AFC Fylde manager Dave Challinor has been recalling the time when he possessed one of the most potent weapons in English football – a howitzer of a long throw that caused all manner of torment and earned him a place in the record books.
He earned national prominence with the length and accuracy of his delivery with his mammoth throw-ins.
One of them was officially measured at over 46 metres back in 1998, when Challinor played for Tranmere Rovers. He skippered the Prenton Park club to the 2000 League Cup Final, which they lost 2-1 to Leicester City at Wembley.
It was a skill that Challinor had in his armoury from an early age, but it was only later that he unleashed it with such explosive effect, striking fear into opposition hearts. Challinor not only propelled the ball a long way, but also had the propensity to pick out the intersection of post and crossbar, causing nightmares to defenders even before a ball had even been kicked or – in his case – thrown in anger.
The Coasters boss said: “I had always been able to make the ball go a long way even from being a young player.
“I played schoolboy football for England Under-18s, but I didn’t use the throw-in then.
“I wanted to be judged by my footballing ability rather than on how far I could throw it.”
Challinor was first encouraged to employ his eventually not-so-secret weapon by his then manager at the Wirral club Johnny King, and the skill developed further under John Aldridge, when he became boss.
Challinor said: “It helped get us to the League Cup Final and an FA Cup quarter-final. Our idea was that if you have something like that and it is effective, then you should use it.
“There is no doubt that it unsettled other teams and it gave you a definite advantage.
“Some of the teams we played back then were obsessed with the throw-in tactic. They worried about how to deal with it, not just in a match itself but in the days leading up to the game.”