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Reader Comments (21)

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Mike Gaynes
1 Posted 11/04/2020 at 18:58:12
You are a magnificent historian, Rob, and it's a gift to this site and this congregation every time you sit down to craft one of these stories. Thank you.
Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
2 Posted 11/04/2020 at 22:51:39
That is indeed a fantastic piece of work, Rob. It fills a big hole for me as I left the UK for the USA in 1986 and missed a lot of that precious era. You portray his personality brilliantly through your words and the abundant quotes from those who knew him. Brilliant stuff, but it leaves you sad as that was a horrible way to go.
Peter Mills
3 Posted 12/04/2020 at 08:52:18
A great article. Thank you, Rob.
Eddie Dunn
4 Posted 12/04/2020 at 08:54:21
I very much enjoyed this piece, Rob, during an era I had the pleasure to watch a lot of first-hand.

In today's game (current circumstances apart), it would be unbelievable for a coach to be so successful for a good period, and then need to do odd jobs to pay the bills.

Paul Birmingham
5 Posted 12/04/2020 at 09:35:40
Thanks, Rob, for a superb article.

Where do the years go, it's like five minutes ago.

All stay safe and well.

Christy Ring
6 Posted 12/04/2020 at 10:48:36
A very enjoyable read, Rob. Reading between the lines, Mick's role with the players back then is like a modern-day Psychologist.
Michael Coffey
7 Posted 12/04/2020 at 12:00:58
Rob, thanks so much for a very touching article.

I saw Mick Heaton play in Great Harwood's midfield a number of times in 1977-78, their last season before they sadly folded. He was a thoughtful reader of the game and was obviously respected by the rest of the team. I was very pleased, for sentimental reasons, when he came to Goodison 3 years later.

As your article suggests, football can be cruel, but it needn't be cynical. Happy Easter one and all.

Jay Wood

8 Posted 12/04/2020 at 12:51:38
This is a smashing read, Rob.

I wasn't aware Mick had died so tragically and prematurely. He was evidently much loved everywhere he went and quite clearly a key man in those heady days of the mid-1980s.

Alasdair Jones
9 Posted 12/04/2020 at 14:29:54

A wonderful article so carefully researched. An excellent all-round read and with some valuable insights into the trophy-winning Howard Kendall teams.

Gavin Johnson
10 Posted 12/04/2020 at 15:54:27
Thanks for the article. It was an enjoyable read. I didn't actually know Mick was dead.

As a youngster, I always remember him as the curly topped coach sitting on the bench or being on the annual team poster. It's sad that he never got his chance to manage a professional club when he left Goodison in 1987. It sounds like he was a valued member of the coaching team and Howard, in particular, held him in very high regard.

Jay Harris
11 Posted 12/04/2020 at 16:46:33
Rob, a great read and thanks for brightening up what must be the most depressing Easter on record.
Derek Knox
12 Posted 13/04/2020 at 08:21:22
What a good and interesting read, Rob, especially in these times we are living in with no football to argue over. I remember the Kendall (Mk1) era vividly and with fond affection and memories.

I must confess my ignorance in that I didn't even know that Mick had died, and 25 years ago at that, shame on me!

Thanks for your great contribution and giving us all an insight into the man, and for your research and time!

Danny ONeill
13 Posted 13/04/2020 at 14:53:37
Fantastic insight Rob, thank you. I remember Mick Heaton's Everton day well, although never knew much about him beyond he was in the dugout and celebrated like a mad-man at the 1985 Villa Park semi-final!! Amongst the many interesting parts to come out of this read, I found the reference to Howard's leadership style intriguing. Stepping away from football for a moment, he clearly was a leader in the true sense. Empowered his middle-management and let them get on with organising and delivering. Be prepared to step in where necessary to guide or direct but then step away and maintain that oversight position. Seems this was Kendall's way. Those who try to do everything themselves (micro-managers) often won't succeed as they get sucked into the day to day business rather than being strategic (Moyes dare I say?).

Also, another interesting insight was the building of a management team of different characters. They all shared the same philosophy, however were different; Kendall the leader, Harvey the Sergeant Major and Heaton the link man. We all know them from our own world of employment. The middle manager who sits you all down and says: "look lads (lasses), this is what the boss wants to achieve. That lunatic is going to push you hard to do it. We all want to achieve the same thing, so put up with it, listen, learn and if you have any problems, you come to me and I'll take it to them"!!

Again, if I compare to the Moyes approach (not Moyes bashing or straying from thread by the way), if I recall, he seemed best having Irvine in the supporting role, who could challenge decisions and make him think again rather than often just being surrounded by yes men or people of the same ilk who just agree with you right or wrong.

Once again, a great and very well researched piece.

Frank Sheppard
14 Posted 13/04/2020 at 16:01:10
Great article.
Tony Abrahams
15 Posted 14/04/2020 at 17:26:09
Very thorough article this, Rob, an excellent read, and I can't believe it's got so few comments, especially because it was the last time our club was truly successful!
David Currie
16 Posted 16/04/2020 at 18:26:00

One of the best articles I have read on here, thanks. I really enjoyed it and it brought back wonderful memories. Mick certainly played his part in our success.

Rick Tarleton
17 Posted 18/04/2020 at 07:57:33
Well Done, Rob, Mick Heaton was a name I remembered from the early eighties, but this article brings him alive as a personality and for his role in that hugely successful era.

Was Andy Burgin the son of Ted Burgin, the Sheffield United keeper before the diminutive but brilliant Alan Hodgkinson?

Rob Sawyer
18 Posted 18/04/2020 at 14:20:28
Thanks for the comments and nice feedback, everyone.

What a great coaching team Howard Kendall, Colin Harvey and Mick Heaton made (supported by John Clinkard as physio etc). Although Colin became the main coach in late 1983 in terms of training routines etc., Mick's 'holistic' role should not be over-looked (in terms of morale and looking after the players). It is only right that we remember him.

Rick (17) Andy Burgin is not Ted's son - he might be a distant relative as they hail from the same neck of the woods.

Rick Tarleton
19 Posted 18/04/2020 at 16:30:05
I have just been checking on the two keepers I mentioned in my comment.

Alan Hodgkinson was, I think the shortest ever England keeper at 1.75 m. Ted Burgin was 5 cm shorter at 1.70 m. Burgin was an England B international, so was one of the top keepers around at approximately 5'-6" tall, a good half a foot shorter than Pickford who is regarded as being rather too short for a modern keeper.

Burgin and Hodgkinson had the very skilful Joe Shaw as their centre-half and he too was no more than 1.74 m. One wonders how Sheffield United coped against Lofthouse, Hickson and the like. Though, of course, they too, while great headers of the ball, were not particularly tall.

Vince Walsh
20 Posted 19/04/2020 at 08:34:41
Great article many thanks Rob.
Jack Convery
21 Posted 26/04/2020 at 01:54:31
Only 20 comments – this well-researched article deserves more than that. A really interesting piece about a forgotten hero of the 80s management team.

A great shame he never truly got the recognition he deserved for what he did as a player, Captain and Assistant Manager / Coach, though those who knew him had a lot of time for him and that says an awful lot about the man.

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