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History

PAST MASTERS - MIKE GREEN

13 March 2013

Richard Day looks back at the career of the versatile performer

Mike was born on September 8 1946 in Carlisle and, after playing for Cumberland Schoolboys, he became his local league side’s first ever apprentice in September 1962.

Two years later he turned professional and made his debut at left-back in a 1-1 draw against Bristol City in April 1965 and at the end of that season the Cumbrians’ were promoted as champions of Division Three, finishing a point clear of both City and Mansfield Town.

However having made only two league games for Carlisle and with first-team opportunities at Brunton Park limited, he moved south to join Gillingham, under manager Basil Hayward, on a free transfer in July 1968.

Mike quickly found a regular place at Priestfield after making his Gills debut on the opening day of the 1968-69 season at Tranmere Rovers.

His first goal for the club came during the following campaign after replacing Brian Yeo as a substitute in a 3-2 defeat at Torquay. It was after this that the defender moved up the pitch permanently and became a proficient forward.


Green heads home his second goal against Peterborough
United in the FA Cup Fourth Round tie (January 1970)


It was this season (1969-70) that the Gills reached the FA Cup Fifth Round for the first time and Green scored one of the six against Tamworth in Round Two and then a brace in a 5-1 home triumph against Peterborough United in the Fourth Round.


Green (right) celebrates Division Three survival with Brian
Yeo at Brisbane Road (May 1970)

 
Only a last day victory at champions Orient kept the Gills up at the end of the 1969-70 campaign but they were relegated at the end of the following season

After Hayward was sacked, Mike, who had netted 28 goals in 147 appearances in three seasons with the Gills, moved on. There had been interest shown by a number of clubs but it was Bill Dodgin’s Bristol Rovers that he chose in July 1971.

He initially struggled to break into the first-team at Eastville but after playing in a few reserve games at centre-half Mike soon won his first-team place in defence.

At the start of his second season he was in the side as the Third Division club lifted the Watney Cup in 1972 when they beat top flight Sheffield United at home in the final – winning 7-6 on penalties after a goalless draw.

The Rovers side that day was Sheppard, Roberts, Parsons, Green, Taylor, Price (B Jones), Stephens, W Jones, Allan, Bannister, Godfrey. Two names some Gillingham fans may recognise are Lindsay Parsons and Wayne Jones who were both on the coaching staff here at Priestfield during Tony Pulis’ time at the club.


Mike leads out Bristol Rovers

Having been appointed captain of Rovers he was to lead them to promotion from the Third Division at the end of 1973-74, they finished runners-up to Oldham Athletic by just a point.

In the game at Port Vale in February he took over in goal when keeper Jim Eadie got injured.

In July 1974, after scoring twice in 77 games, the club accepted a £19,000 offer from Plymouth Argyle manager Tony Waiters and he joined the Devon side.

The 27-year-old made his debut for the Greens in a 1-0 defeat at Preston North End and, for the second year running, he captained his side to promotion from Division Three at the end of his first season.

This time it was Argyle who missed out by just one point, ending the season in second place behind champions Blackburn Rovers.

Green, who had a fish and chips business in Cornwall, went onto score 10 goals in 122 games for the Pilgrims before accepting the position as player-manager at local rivals Torquay United in March 1977 who paid £5,000 for his services.

At Plainmoor he worked alongside experienced general manager Frank O'Farrell who had spent 18 months managing Manchester United a few years earlier. One of his first signings was the aforementioned Parsons, a left-back from Bristol Rovers, but he was not helped by the lack of funds at his disposal.

Torquay were a nurturing /selling club, in January 1977 Green brought in centre-forward Colin Lee from Bristol City reserves and just ten months later a £60,000 fee saw him join Tottenham Hotspur and the striker later gave good service to Chelsea.

Mike retired from playing, after scoring seven times in 88 league games for United, to concentrate on his managerial duties.

During the 1979-80 season then Second Division Bristol Rovers offered him the opportunity to return as manager but with the Gulls requiring compensation he remained at Plainmoor, signing a new three-year deal instead - only to be sacked in May 1981.

Three months later, in August 1981, he joined local non-league side Newton Abbot and three years later moved to Hele Rovers.

After retiring from the game Mike managed a sub-post office/newsagent in Torquay for 22 years and he still lives in the Chelston area of Torquay.

In September 2007 he was named on the organising committee for ‘Argyle Legends’, along with former Pilgrims John Hore, Steve Davey and John Uzzell, a group set up to make former players a valued part of the Home Park club.



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