By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Non-League football legend Mark ‘Willy’ Wilson, who recently celebrated his 900th career appearance, has enjoyed a colourful career. Here he looks back some of his most daftest moments and his relationship with his managers and clubs:
On his relationship with Ronnie Glavin, the manager who signed him for Frickley Athletic, Emley, Worksop Town and Wakefield FC:
“When I left Bradford Park Avenue, I signed back with Ronnie Glavin (at Emley), who first gave me my chance in non-league football after getting released from Huddersfield.
“Things didn’t work out for me at Frickley, but at every club that Ronnie Glavin has been at, he has taken me with him.
“I owe him a lot and I’ve probably never said that to him. All my knowledge and what he taught me, I seem to be remembering and teaching the younger lads.
“We had our differences, me and Mr Glavin. He sacked me on three occasions, but that was down to my stupidity.”
On Bradford (Park Avenue) where he enjoyed three spells in 1993-1995, 1999-2000 and 2006-2007 and manager Trevor Storton reaction to his arrival on the team bus in 1999:
“Bradford Park Avenue are a club close to my heart. I went there on three occasions. The first time after leaving Frickley and I helped them get promotion from the North West Counties. I didn’t happen to play in the last game as I had signed for Emley by then. But I decided that I would make my own way to Bradford and travel on the bus with the fans. So I think they still appreciate how committed I was to that club and I still have good friends and good memories from there now.
“When I got sacked from Harrogate Town, Trevor Storton signed for Avenue. I used to have a bag of wigs and props. I got on the bus when we were going to a game and I put all these wigs and masks on and started running up and down the bus. Trevor Storton’s face was like ‘who the hell is this?’”
On his time at Worksop Town:
“Worksop were horrible fans to play against, they got me sent off all the time. Every-time I played Worksop, they got me sent off. When they found out that I was signing for them they used to call me ‘gypo, gypo.’ Now they said: ‘he’s our gypo’.”
On his sacking from Harrogate Town in 1999:
“The most memorable sacking is when I was with Harrogate Town. We had just played Belper away and won. Belper had just got a new clubhouse and had Scrumpy Jack on draft. I had four pints of that and I went outside and it hit me. I was very giddy. I got on the bus and it was when you could smoke on the bus. I wasn’t smoking, but because we had passed our junction on the M1 where I got picked up, I got an aerosol can and someone’s lighter and set a flame going down the bus. Everyone was laughing and joking, all the directors were turning around and laughing. Then I decided to set myself on fire. At the time everyone was laughing, but two days later, I got a summons from the club saying I was suspended pending an inquiry. I happened to go to the FA to see if I had a case. Obviously I didn’t so I got sacked. But that was when I was younger and I’m not as stupid now.”
On his relationship with former Guiseley midfielder Vince Brockie:
“At Guiseley once, I took him out in the first minute from kick off. Me and Vinny, I should say, were good friends, but when we got on the pitch, we were enemies we hated one another. It was at Guiseley and they had just kicked off and they passed it back to Vinny and it bobbled up to his chest so I just wiped him out. I got booked.”
On his time with Ossett Albion and scoring in the Ossett derby:
“I think I was at Emley and I went on loan to Ossett Albion for a month. My first game was Gretna away and we got a few good runs together and there was another player who is now the Rotherham assistant manager, Paul Rayner, who signed at the same time and we established a good bond. We happened to start winning a few games and it was a time when Ossett Town were at the top of the league and Albion were at the bottom of the league. So it was a local derby at Ossett Albion’s ground and we had the goalkeeper sent off in the first half. But we ended up beating Ossett Town 2-0 and I scored a goal. I picked the ball up on the halfway line, dribbled a bit and just smacked it with my left foot and it went in the top corner. So I decided to do a celebration by running all the way up the hoardings and then sat on the boards – everyone was just cheering me. I got booked for it.
On his relationship with referees:
“Referees always talk to me and say ‘don’t be doing anything daft’. But, I never got done for dissent, it always the physical aspect, the tackles. I say over-enthusiasm.”