Roy of the Wanderers and tale of courage


May 26, 1977
Sixteen-years-old former Liverpool schoolboy Roy Heaney has signed on for Bolton Wanderers and defied doctors’ “orders” that he should not play again this season. When Roy, of Donhead Mews, Belle Vale, Liverpool broke his leg playing for Liverpool’s “B” team against Tranmere in August – his third match of the season – his hopes of a career as a professional took a nose dive.

Doctors said he had no chance of playing a again this season, and his future with Liverpool looked uncertain. He was in hospital for three weeks and it took him 16 weeks to fight back to fitness.
“But I was determined to play again – and soon,” said Roy, a 5ft. 8in., 11st. 5lb full back, built in the mould of Tommy Smith, his hero.

“As soon as I got out of plaster I went on the weights at Liverpool for eight weeks to build up my leg. After all the hard work I finally got playing again, but the trouble was it was difficult to get back into the Liverpool set-up. I asked for a apprenticeship with the club and it was turned down.”

Undaunted Roy kept working hard – and eventually was spotted by two clubs, Bolton and Wrexham, who both offered him trials.

He played for Bolton’s “B” team – ironically against Tranmere Rovers – and did well in their 3-0 victory. This was followed by a good performance in another 3-0 against Manchester City – and Bolton stepped in to offer him an apprenticeship.

To-day he leaves with his new club for Switzerland to take part in an Under-22 tournament in which big European clubs like Ajax and Bayern Munchen are also competing.
“It’s like a dram come true,” he said. “Ive never enjoyed my football so much in my life before. My ambition now is to become a full-time professional with Bolton in the First Division.”

Roy, who will feel at home with Bolton with fellow Liverpudlian players Peter Reid, John Ritson and Neil Whatmore, added: “I don’t feel bitter about Liverpool. I’m grateful for the experience I’ve had with them, which had made me a better player.”
(Source: Liverpool Echo: May 26, 1977; via http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) © 2018 Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited

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