Sad News Of Early 70s Prospect
Mick Kent, who made two appearances in Wolves’ first team 50 years ago, has died at the age of 70.
The Yorkshireman was one of the last of the Wath Wanderers products, signing at Molineux in 1968 and spending five years with the club.
But he was restricted to going on in the first 15 minutes for Dave Wagstaffe in a 2-1 defeat at Sunderland towards the end of Bill McGarry’s first full season as manager and more briefly for Bernard Shaw in a win at Southampton by the same score in March, 1972.
The fact the two outings came two years apart and he was kept on for more than 12 months after he was last seen at senior level underlined the belief that he was blessed with considerable ability and every chance was given for him to consistently produce it.
It is a view endorsed today by his contemporaries. “He could play,” said fellow Wath boy Paul Walker. “He had something about him and never caused any trouble.
“I got on great with him and, while we were still at Wolves and getting over injuries, we went out to play in South Africa together for a Johannesburg club called Highland Power, who had Gary Player’s manager as chairman.
“I met up with Mick, Mike O’Grady, Gerry Farrell and Norman Bell for a bite to eat at a golf club in Leeds a year or so ago and am very much saddened by this news. I had hoped to go and see him again very soon.
“I’m 72 next week, so Mick came after me at Wath and played there, I think, with a forward called Steve Downes, who was with several clubs up here in Yorkshire.”
The positive memories of Kent, who was born in Greasbrough and played nearby for Rotherham Boys as well as skippering Yorkshire Boys and having age-group trials for England, were echoed by John Richards, who said: “He was tall and skilful on the right side of midfield.
“But having Kenny Hibbitt as a rival for that sort of position was tough and he wasn’t given many chances in the first team. I played a lot with him in the reserves, though, and he was a great lad.
“We got on so well that we shared a house in Chartwell Drive, Bushbury for a season with another of our age group, Mike Spellman, paying rent to a guy who had had a break-up and moved back in with his parents.
“One night, we had a few drinks and started playing a horse racing game called Escalado. The mat that came with it wouldn’t fit on the table, so Mick got the screwdriver out and took the door off. We played until 6am on the floor, had breakfast and a freshen-up, then went off to training!”
Wolves Heroes’ co-owner lost touch with both of his house mates after Kent had followed up his appearance at the Richardses’ wedding in the summer of 1973 by joining Sheffield Wednesday.
He totalled only 15 League appearances despite also serving Gillingham (on a loan from Molineux in the spring of 1971) and had a three-month trial with John Bond’s Norwich at a time when his younger brother Paul was there.
“I only played a few League games as well but we played together in the reserves in several matches,” Paul said. “He had plenty of bad luck – he had a bad pelvic injury after suffering a head-on car crash on Cannock Chase while playing for Wolves and also broke his leg after scoring on his debut in South Africa.”
He and Leeds-based Walker have kindly filled in some of the post-football gaps for us in Mick’s life.
“I know he ran the bar at Leeds & Bradford Airport for a year or so and was landlord for about three years at the Emmott Arms in Rawdon, Leeds,” Walker added.
“He lived in a flat in the Chapeltown area of the city and hadn’t got a lot to be honest. Some of us got on to the PFA about helping him out and the Wolves Former Players Association kindly sorted him out with a nice new telly. His main pleasure was walking to and from his local pub for a pint or two.”
Paul informs us that Mick was also married for several years to Beverley, the daughter of comedian Charlie Williams, who became one of the first black professionals in English football when embarking on a lengthy post-war career with Doncaster.
With Williams Snr’s contacts in showbiz, the couple were able to attract acts like Bernard Manning, Frank Carson and Ken Goodwin to the nightclub they ran near Barnsley, Mick’s other jobs including driving minibuses of businessmen to London and the nearby airports and running a pub in Blackburn and hotel in Wakefield.
We at Wolves Heroes wish to send our condolences to Mick’s family and friends and were pleased to be reminded that his father, who died at 91 a couple of years ago, was a distant relative of former Arsenal forward John Radford.