Friday, 18 June 2010

45 Paul Heaton

Position: Midfield (also played at right back)

Played : 1983-4 to 1985-6 (initially on loan from Olham Athletic)

Appearances : 89

Goals : 4

If you read the M.E.N. Pink Final (remember that ?) in the late 70s/early 80s you’ll recall the wildly exaggerated claims made for every player that put on a shirt for Oldham Athletic (Palmer for England etc). When Paul broke into the side as a teenager in 1978 you’d have thought he was the new Johann Cruyff from their ravings though to be fair he did make the England Under-21 side. Unfortunately two broken legs halted his progress and Oldham had effectively written him off by the time Les Chapman took him on loan in March 1984.

He looked completely disinterested in the 5 games he played that season so there was some consternation when Vic Halom gave him a permanent contract and made him his personal rehabilitation project. This only increased when he was selected ahead of the likes of Peter Farrell and Ian Griffiths who subsequently left the club. Perhaps understandably, Paul’s avoidance of hard tackles made Adam Rundle look like Stuart Pearce but it made him a very limited player. He played mainly on the left side of midfield showing the odd moment of skill like his shuffle and cross for a classic Steve Talylor goal against Chesterfield in December 1984 but these were few and far between. In the 1985-6 season he was mainly used to fill the perennially problematic position of right back despite being left footed. His last contribution was scoring the goal away at Peterborough that kept us out of the re-election zone for the second year running , a feather in Halom’s cap so he got a modest payback for his faith in the player.

However even he now conceded that Paul wasn’t a League standard player anymore and released him. He moved to Finland signing for Kuusysi Lahti . He married a Finnish girl and enjoyed an extraordinarily long twilight career in Finnish football still playing in 2002 at the age of 41. He was last heard of as a coach at FC Tarmo.

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