Sunday Mirror

SKEM WAS HEIGHWAY TO GLORY

- BY JOHN RICHARD­SON Sports · Glory · The Football Association · Harrogate Town F.C. · Mansfield Town F.C. · Liverpool · Liverpool Football Club · Warwick · Skelmersdale · Anfield · Bill Shankly

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.

 ??  ?? Heighway with the FA Cup
Heighway with the FA Cup

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