Second in a series of articles profiling the career of England 1966 World Cup winner Roger Hunt and the clubs he represented

AFTER his first appearance for Stockton Heath, Roger Hunt kept his place in the team and it was not long before he was banging in the goals, writes Garry Clarke.

He enjoyed an especially happy Christmas in 1955, registering his first goals for the club on Christmas Eve, scoring four times at home to Wallasey Borough and following up with a hat-trick against Lostock Gralam on Boxing Day.

Hunt became a regular scorer, netting 22 goals (32 behind top scorer Alan Foster – a player reckoned by many good judges of the era to be the club’s best ever player) as Stockton Heath ended the Mid Cheshire League season in third place, also reaching two cup finals.

The former Culcheth High School and Leigh Grammar School student picked up the first winner’s medal of his senior career on April 25, 1956, when he scored for Heath in their 5-3 victory over Middlewich Athletic in the Mid Cheshire League Cup final at Runcorn’s Canal Street ground.

The Warrington Guardian reported ‘Heath played a brand of football that was always fast and entertaining’ in an encounter where ‘both teams played so well it was a pity one of them had to lose.’

Heath started shakily and soon fell two goals behind. They rallied after Les Arnold pulled a goal back before Golborne-born Hunt equalised just before half time.

Heath dominated the second half, scoring three times through Eric Griffin, two, and Bobby Rothwell.

In winning the final, Heath created a little a bit of history becoming the first side to win the Mid Cheshire League Cup three seasons running.

Three days later the two sides met in the Cheshire Amateur Cup final at Northwich Victoria’s Drill Field (a ground which like Canal Street is now covered by housing). However there was to be no happy ending this time with Middlewich Athletic winning 5-1 in front of a crowd of 4,017 (gate receipts £305), Wilf Martin scoring Heath’s solitary goal.

> READ PART ONE: How it all began for England 1966 World Cup winner Roger Hunt

Hunt rounded off his debut season for Stockton Heath by netting another hat-trick in the last home league game of the season, a 10-2 thrashing of Congleton Town.

The 1956/57 season was a disappointing one for Stockton Heath, finishing fifth in the Mid Cheshire League table 14 points behind champions Northern Nomads (Stalybridge).

It was an entertaining season for Heath followers as they watched their favourites score 180 goals in all competitions.

Having bagged two more hat-tricks and several braces, Hunt topped the club’s scoring charts for the only time during his time at the club netting 38 times.

The ‘Heathens’, as they were known by their fans, were far from a one-man band though with a further six players (George Hayes, Roy Tipping, Harry Bennett, Jimmy Green, Alan Foster, Les Arnold) also hitting double figures.

Having exited the FA Amateur Cup in the early rounds, Hunt’s goals were vital as Stockton Heath battled through to the fifth round of the Cheshire Amateur Cup and the fourth round of the Cheshire Senior Cup before reaching their fourth consecutive Mid Cheshire League Cup final.

Hunt’s two goals against Nantwich guided them through a closely fought semi-final.

In the final their luck deserted them, losing 2-1 against Runcorn Athletic at Northwich Victoria’s Drill Field ground. Roy Tipping gave Heath an early lead but Runcorn grabbed a late equaliser before scoring the only goal of extra time to end Heath’s hold on the cup.

Part 3 coming soon