Third in a series of articles profiling the career of England 1966 World Cup winner Roger Hunt and the clubs he represented

HAVING started the 1957/58 season on trial at Bury, Roger Hunt returned to Stockton Heath in September although his availability was further restricted when he was called up for his National Service, writes Garry Clarke.

He still managed to score a creditable 18 goals as Stockton Heath mounted their strongest assault to that date on the Mid Cheshire League title, finishing second six points behind champions Runcorn Athletic in a competition which at the time was only two steps below the Football League.

“Bury had decided they were going to give me a trial for a month, so I played as an amateur in their reserve team but I only played two games,” said Hunt, who was born in Golborne and grew up in Culcheth.

“Bert Head said they hadn’t seen enough of me and wanted more time to make their minds up as they were not fully convinced I would make it.

“They offered me a further month’s trial on the same basis. I was not happy with that arrangement and thought I might as well go back to Warrington and play for my local club as I didn’t want to sit on the bench.”

Posted to Tidworth in Wiltshire for his two years National Service in the Royal Artillery, former Culcheth High and Leigh Grammar School student Hunt signed for nearby Devizes Town in the Wiltshire Senior League but returned to play for Heath every three or four weeks when he would get leave.

> PART TWO: England World Cup winner's first medal success

> PART ONE: Where it all began for England World Cup winner

When he did return to Stockton Heath it wasn’t to his old stomping ground of Stockton Lane on the south side of the Manchester Ship Canal in the village of Grappenhall but to Heath’s new ground in Loushers Lane, where Warrington Town still play today on the northern side of the canal in the Latchford area of Warrington.

Stockton Heath had moved to their new abode in August, 1957, christening their ground with a 3-0 victory over Winsford United Reserves.

After winning their opening five league games of the season, Heath’s form deserted them for a spell in which they lost three games – a setback from which they never recovered despite losing just one league game in the second half of the season.

Their bid to reach their fifth consecutive Mid Cheshire League Cup Final ended at the semi-final stage, losing 3-0 at home to Linotype.

Heath were left wondering what might have been if Hunt had been available for the full season especially as he scored six times in his last two league games of the campaign, twice against Middlewich Athletic and four times against Congleton Town.

Hunt made his debut for Devizes in a 10-1 hammering of Frome, his contribution being a mere eight goals which prompted the local newspaper to run the headline ‘Best Signing Ever’.

With Hunt in their ranks Devizes won the Wiltshire County Senior Cup, defeating Melksham Town in the final. While playing for Devizes he caught the attention of Swindon Town.

Bert Head had joined Swindon’s coaching staff and offered Hunt the chance to stay at Swindon after completing his National Service.

* Part 4 coming soon