As 2013 comes to a close, Mike Whittaker admits he’s hoping for a change of fortune in the New Year.
Mike is a former chairman and player at South Shore Cricket Club and was also chairman of the Fylde Evening Cricket League for many years.
But he is wondering how many of his soccer team mates at Blackpool Boys Club - with whom he played in his first appearance at Bloomfield Road in the early 1950s against Tyldesley Youth - are still around.
Mike played in goal for the boys club and the game finished in a goalless draw.
The replay was at Hawes Side School and Mike recalls his team won 2-0.
He says: “Unfortunately I lost contact with the majority of my team mates due to my National Service duties, but I have occasionally met up with some of them. I played soccer in the local leagues and recently saw one of my fellow players at the Dunes Hotel, South Shore, and we decided it was 50 years since we last met.”
Mike was well known in the 1980s for organising the football special trains for Blackpool FC cup ties and also the Fleetwood Town train to Wembley where they played against Halesowen Town.
He has suffered from diabetes for many years and is the first to admit he has not had a pleasant 2013.
In June a major operation saw his left leg being amputated below the knee.
He is, however, well on the way to recovery, thanks to the care of his wife Audrey and the staff at the Preston limb centre, together with the “never-ending help and encouragement of Yvonne and her team of physios at Victoria Hospital”.
So much so that he wonders how many other people at the age of 77 will be learning to walk on their “new” leg?
Mike’s wife Audrey, who he met in 1964 on the Bloomfield Road Kop, is former Blackpool schoolgirl swimming champion Audrey Dean, who, in Mike’s own words “has the unenviable task of being my wheelchair pusher as well as keeping me cheerful and out of mischief”.
Due to his diabetes problems, Mike and Audrey have been unable to get to Bloomfield Road to watch their beloved Blackpool FC but are fortunate in being able to follow coverage in The Gazette, as well as listening on Radio Wave for commentaries on all Blackpool matches home and away.
If any reader would like to contact Mike, please ring him on (01253) 722411 or write to him at 3 Rudyard Place, St Annes,FY8 2EQ.