Monday, 5 July 2010

79 Ronnie Hildersley

Ronnie is third from the left on the front row

Position : Midfield

Played : 1985-6

Appearances : 16

Goals : 0

This is a strange story. Ronnie began his career at Manchester City but only made one appearance before being loaned out to Chester where he was the recipient of Ian McMahon's infamous headbutt. He signed for Chester permanently but only made 9 appearances in 1984-5.

He appeared briefly as a sub away at Burnley in September where he appeared to be at risk of drowning as the pitch got waterlogged. He then disappeared and we assumed he was just another of Halom's fly-by-night signings. Around March though he suddenly reappeared in the side and was tremendous ; the only bright spot as the rest of the team sulked. Although only 5'4 Ron was very combative, passed the ball accurately and could run surprisingly fast for a barrel-shaped man. I remember one guy in the Wilbutts telling him to get a move on and being told "F**k off you fat git" which was amusing coming from him.

The way he left the club stank. Halom had had to take some time off during the season after being stricken with Bells palsy and former Halifax boss John McGrath was brought in to hold the fort for him. McGrath seems to have had a free pass around the club and according to an interview Ronnie gave to the Lancashire Evening Post in 2003 :

He turned up to watch me on the last day of the season for Rochdale against Leyton Orient. I had no idea about Preston or their potential then, but it didn't take me long to find out.

"I'd got man of the match and the chairman collared me, saying he wanted me to sign a new deal at Spotland.

"I was just about to put pen to paper, when John, who had overhead the conversation, was waving his hands at the other side of the room. He edged over and whispered: 'Don't sign little Ronnie, we're going places. I'm taking over at Preston tomorrow and I want you at Deepdale because I'm going to give the great old club the kiss of life.'

Cheers John you c**t ! The club gave out a lame story about an administrative cock up with Ronnie's League registration forms but we knew something murkier had taken place.

Ronnie was at Preston for two seasons falling out of favour and going on loan to Cambridge in the latter. He then moved up a division and signed for Blackburn leaving just before the Walker millions started taking effect. He signed for Wigan but that didn't work out and he only made 4 appearances before moving to American indoor football with Montreal Spirit. McGrath signed him again for Halifax in the early 90s but he left for East Fife when McGrath was sacked. He played there for three years before moving to Montrose then returned to East Fife as manager. He now lives back in Lancashire.

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