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

ON one of his trips home from National Service to play for Stockton Heath, Roger Hunt was spotted by Liverpool scout Bill Jones, writes Garry Clarke.

The talent spotter was there to watch another player at the time, but offered Hunt a trial.

Playing for Liverpool A against Manchester City A at Urmston – a ground now better known as Shawe View, home of Trafford FC – Hunt scored in a 5-1 win for the Reds.

Both Liverpool and Swindon were keen to sign the former Culcheth High and Leigh Grammar School student.

Liverpool offered him £14 a week during the season and £12 a week during the summer, while Swindon offered £17 a week all year round and a house.

Before accepting either of the offers, Hunt spoke to Stockton Heath manager Freddie Worrall who told him: “He had been away from home with Portsmouth and he advised me to go to Liverpool.

“He said it was worth a few pounds less just to be close to home and your family.”

Then managed by Phil Taylor, Liverpool signed Hunt on amateur forms on July 29, 1958, which allowed him to continue playing for Stockton Heath and Devizes Town for a further season until his National Service was completed.

Scoring just five goals in his farewell season, Hunt played very few games for Stockton Heath during 1958/59 as his playing commitments elsewhere severely restricted his availability.

Apart from playing for Devizes Town, who completed the Wiltshire treble of Senior League, League Cup and County Senior Cup, Hunt was a regular for the Wiltshire county side in the Southern Counties Competition and also played for The Army.

He also represented an England Amateur team in an international trial at Aston Villa. Playing so much football it is a wonder he managed to find time to carry out his National Service duties as a sergeant’s mess waiter.

One of the few games he played for Stockton Heath during the 1958/59 season was their FA Cup First Qualifying Round tie at Cheshire County League side Witton Albion.

A crowd of 1,550 (paying gate receipts of £107) saw Heath win for the first time in the game’s oldest cup competition.

Although Stan Berrington scored a hat-trick in the 4-2 win (George Hayes scored the fouth goal) Hunt was the star with the Warrington Guardian reporting: “Hunt’s brilliant foraging was the highlight of the visitors’ success.”

On his next return home he was unable to repeat the trick as Heath crashed out of the cup in the second qualifying round losing 3-0 at home to Ellesmere Port Town.

After a good start to the season, Heath, without their star player, fell away in the second half of the campaign and finished a disappointing sixth in the Mid Cheshire League table.

Having scored in the 6-2 Cheshire Amateur Cup quarter final victory at home against Linotype, Hunt scored his last of 83 goals in Heath colours at the same stage of their Mid Cheshire League Cup campaign, netting in their 4-1 home win against Knutsford.

Watched by a crowd of 1,162 (gate receipts £90) at Witton Albion’s Central Ground (no longer with us as the site is now covered by a supermarket), Hunt was unable to inspire Heath to victory in the Cheshire Amateur Cup final against Altrincham Reserves.

A 1-1 draw gave Heath a second bite of the cherry, but without Hunt, who could not arrange leave from The Army, they lost 3-1 in the replay at Northwich Victoria’s Drill Field on May 6, 1959.

The following night the Drill Field was also the venue for the Mid Cheshire League Cup final, again without Hunt, and Heath lost 2-1 to ICI Alkali.

n Part 5 next week