Left-Back On Time In TangerineHaving originally started his career in Blackpool’s academy, John Hills joined Blackpool on loan from Everton in 1998 before making the move permanent. Here he reflects on his time in tangerine.
What can you remember about your debut?
My first-team debut came against Bournemouth under Nigel Worthington when I was on loan from Everton. I was playing reserve team football at the time and I just wanted a bit of first-team experience and to play in front of crowds. To get the opportunity to come back to Blackpool was great for me because I’m obviously a Blackpool fan and I came through as a schoolboy and YTS so it was special for me to play for the club. I had three good months and loved every minute of it.
What would you say your favourite goal for the club was?
I always say that I’ve got two. One was against Preston at Deepdale when we drew 3-3 because I loved the derby games. I’ve still got a picture of that up on my wall at home. My other favourite goal was against Charlton in the FA Cup.
If you could re-live one game from your career in tangerine, which one would you choose?
Probably the LDV at the Millennium when we won 4-1 against Cambridge. I scored and was named Man of the Match in that game. We absolutely destroyed Cambridge because we had a good team at the time. There was a good night afterwards as well.
In terms of dressing room banter, what was the best prank you witnessed?
Of all the clubs I’ve been at in my career, Blackpool was the one I enjoyed my time at the most. A lot of the lads we had at the time were pranksters, like Phil Barnes, Tommy Jaszczun, Jamie Milligan, Brian Reid, Martin Bullock, John Murphy and Brett Ormerod. We were all really tight knit.
One of the best pranks I remember was when spaghetti was delivered down to the training ground and Phil Barnes put it on his head and made a wig out of it. It sounds a bit stupid – I suppose you have to be there – but it was really funny at the time. I could do with some of that spaghetti for my barnet now.
On reflection, what achievement are you most proud of?
Promotion, winning the LDV and being made captain as well on a number of occasions. Being a Blackpool lad raised in South Shore I was really proud of those moments.
Best player you played with…
It’s a tough one that. I used to have a good link down the left side with Tommy Jaszczun and Murphs and Brett were special for us when they played together. Paul Simpson was good to play with when he was here and so was Martin Bullock. Overall I’d have to say Richie Wellens because we had a good understanding and he’d always put the ball where I wanted it.
From my younger days I’d possibly say Dave Linighan when he was here and John O’Kane because he was quite laid back and took that into his training.
I’d say Ian Hughes because he was solid for us and used to throw his body in front of everything. He was so committed and he would have done anything for you - he’d have run through a brick wall for the club. He was an unsung hero for me.
I’d say Tommy Jaszczun and Phil Barnes, they were terrible together.
Most likely to become a successful manager in future…
I’d like to see John Murphy go on to management at some stage. I know he came back to the club a few years ago and I still speak to him now and then. He had a bit of an involvement with the first-team under Ian Holloway and is now with Richie Kyle in the youth team so his coaching has come on a load. I think he could make a good manager and I hope he goes for it at some point.