Wednesday, 5 May 2010

3. Eric Snookes

Position : Left back

Played : 1978-9 to 1982-3

Appearances : 183

Goals : 1

You have to feel sorry for Eric ; virtually all his eleven year career in League football was spent fighting relegation or re-election battles. On the other hand he must have been a useful player to overcome the Jonah tag and keep his place.

Eric made his debut for Preston when they were fighting relegation to the Third Division in 1972-3 a feat they achieved the following season under the mis-management of professional legend Bobby Charlton. Charlton released him and he went to Crewe for a season before returning to the Lancashire coast for Southport’s last three seasons in the Football League , all of which ended in re-election application, the final one being unsuccessful. Dale salvaged Eric’s League career paying a couple of grand which turned out to be a good investment as he was an automatic first team choice for five seasons making more appearances for Dale than his other clubs put together. In a recent interview with the Lancashire Evening Post he said that Dale turned down a bid of £60,000 from Carlisle for him which seems a bit implausible given the parlous state of the club at the time.

I recall him as a good raiding full back and one of the better players in my first full season watching Dale although some thought he was a bit soft and shirked hard tackles. He was unfortunate to pick up an injury just after Jimmy Greenhoff took over as manager and consequently was released by a United legend for the second time in his career.

Greenhoff’s judgement was questioned by Bolton Wanderers then in the Third Division in 1983-4 and he got in their first team for six games when their regular left back was injured. I remember the M.E.N. giving him good write-ups at the time though I suspect their fans thought otherwise as his name crops up frequently in their “worst ever” teams. Manager John McGovern did not extend his contract and his League career was over. Short spells with Macclesfield and Barrow followed before he had to retire through Achilles problems. He now works on the railways and regularly appears at PNE legends events playing in a charity game as recently as 2007.

Here is a link to a bizarre video of Eric eating a cream cake at work.

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