Hail Henry the first - Blackpool's one-hit wonder

Mowbray - scored in famous FA Cup win
Mowbray - scored in famous FA Cup win
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Time was some 50 years ago when Blackpool’s scouting system north of the Border was second-to-none and the envy of many.

The fact that the Seasiders snared such gems as Tony Green, Tommy Hutchison and Henry Mowbray is testimony to that.

Seasiders’ manager Stan Mortensen agreed a deal to sign Mowbray from Cowdenbeath and when he embarked on another scouting mission Tony Green, of Albion Rovers caught his eye - after this master-stroke Green went on to grace Bloomfield Road with his skill and ball-control.

Mowbray too went on to have a fine career and all these years later he is still hugely grateful for the opportunity that Blackpool gave him.

He was a fans’ favourite chalking up more than a century of appearances for the Seasiders - his one and only goal for them was on a hugely significant and well-remembered occasion when he scored in a 4-0 win over West Ham.

That scoreline alone was a shocker for the Londoners - it got even worse later when a number of Hammers’ players, among them captain Bobby Moore, were suspended for breaking a curfew and visiting Brian London’s Blackpool night-club in the early hours of the morning of the match.

The Hammers’ players thought erroneously that the match would be called off because of a frozen pitch.

Green got a couple that day, John Craven one and then it was rounded off by Mowbray’s strike.

Mowbray recalled: “Tony had one of those games and just exposed Bobby Moore.

“But he was that kind of player - he would have been even better had he been playing nowadays because he would get better protection from referees. He had to put up with all kinds of tackles.”

As for Mowbray, he loved playing for his new club - and for Morty, the manager.

He said: “I idolised him really - he was the man who gave me my chance.

“As a manager, one day he would be wearing a suit and the next time a track-suit.

“He was always very optimistic about the game when he talked tactics with us.”

By the time that Blackpool pulled off their remarkable 4-0 win over the Hammers - Blackpool had had two managers Les Shannon and, on this occasion Bob Stokoe who was at the helm.

It was one of those afternoons - and there were many in Green’s career - when the midfield maestro was just about unplayable.

Phil McEntee, reporting the match for The Gazette, said: “Green was fantastic and his two goals were as fine as any that have graced the ground over the years.”

The BBC Match Of The Day tv cameras were there that cold January day to back up such an assertion.

For the first goal Green got the ball 15 yards or so into the West Ham and dribbled the ball forward towards the area - the Hammers defence were in retreat as he worked his way into the area unchallenged and stabbed it into the net.

It was Green who claimed the second.

Micky Burns crossed from the right, but a defensive header clear went straight to Green who controlled the ball inches outside the area with his right foot and lashed it past Bobby Ferguson in the West Ham goal.

That man Green was instrumental in Blackpool’s third - he robbed a dithering Bobby Howe on the edge of the area - he rounded the ‘keeper and before he could shoot, Craven nipped in from behind to smash it home.

Then it was Mowbray’s turn to score his landmark Blackpool goal, receiving the ball in the inside-left channel from Tony Coleman to fire it past Ferguson.

Mowbray said: “When I scored the game was over by then.

“We were thrilled to get a win like - in fact, it really should have been more we were so much on top.

“Blackpool had a real camaraderie in those days - we all stuck together and there were no Big Time Charlies. People like Jimmy Armfield, a great gentleman, with all that he has achieved in the game, was just one of the lads.

“I don’t think you get that kind of thing in a dressing-room in football nowadays with so many foreign players.

“I fail to see where the team spirit comes from.”

Mowbray harbours fond memories of the Blackpool squad in the four years he was at Bloomfield Road.

Some, sadly, are no longer around like one of the scorers that afternoon, Craven, who died at the age of only 49 in 1996.

Mowbray said: “Big John was such a strong player and it was shock when I found out he had died. He was the last person you would think it would happen to.

“Alan Taylor was in the squad then and he was one of the most unorthodox goalkeepers I have ever seen.

“Fred Pickering and Harry Thomson were a couple of real characters - I occasionally come back to Blackpool to watch a game or for a reunion and see some of the old lads - Tommy Thompson looks no different from when he was playing!”

By April of that year, Mowbray was no longer a Blackpool player, having signed for Bolton Wanderers.

It was to be Armfield’s swansong season at Bloomfield Road - Armfield moved into management with Bolton and for a time Mowbray played under his old, much-respected team-mate.

A knee injury restricted Mowbray’s appearances and he returned to Scotland to have a brief spell with St Mirren.

Then it was off to Australia for a stint with Sydney City, where he enjoyed title success as a player and coach.

Mowbray, 69, said: “We originally went over for two or three years and ended up staying there for 10 years - I loved it there.”

On return to this country, Mowbray worked in the catering and hospitality trade before retiring this year.

He lives in Dunfermline, sad at the way Blackpool’s fortunes have sagged.

Mowbray still follows football and life has come full circle. He is season ticket holder at Cowdenbeath.

He said: “They are struggling at the bottom of Scottish League Two - it’s 50 years since I left them to sign for Blackpool, who I owe so much.”