SKEM WAS HEIGHWAY TO GLORY
SKELMERSDALE’S televised FA Cup trip to Harrogate Town on Friday night will bring back memories of hitchhiking to games for their famous son Steve Heighway.
The jinking winger, who won four league titles and two European Cups with Liverpool, has probably still got the bruises from his time with the non-league side.
He said: “I was 20, 21 getting kicked to death every week. It was tough men’s football alright. I remember playing South Liverpool in a cup tie and getting kicked from pillar to post. I guess the Liverpool people could see I could handle it. It was fantastic grounding for what was to come.”
Studying at Warwick University, Heighway was offered the opportunity to enrol into the school of hard knocks with Skem in the Cheshire League.
He added: “I played for the university football team and the various university representative teams. The manager of the English Universities side was Roy Rees, who was also manager of Skelmersdale. He
GLORY DAYS persuaded me to play for Skem. Being an amateur club they could only really pay my train fare to get to and from the games. But most of the time I would hitchhike up and down the M6.
“My folks lived near Stockport and would try and help by picking me up, then after the game they would drop me off on a motorway junction and I would hitchhike back to Warwick.
“It was hard going and of course I had to combine all this with my university studies as well.
“To say it wasn’t the most glamourous place is being kind. The pitch was a mud bath. The dressing rooms were basic to say the least. But there was a real buzz about the place.”
A place frequented by Liverpool scouts reporting back to the then Anfield boss Bill Shankly.
“I lived in Coventry in a students house while at Warwick University. I got a call from the Skelmersdale people that Bill Shankly and his mates wanted to come and speak to me that night. They offered me a one-year contract. I told them I’d think about it.”
But Heighway soon became an important part of Liverpool’s all-conquering side of the 1970s.