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Bolton Wanderers vs Huddersfield Town: Played for Both Clubs - Frank Worthington

Eddie takes a look at the career of former Huddersfield and Bolton player, Frank Worthington.

Credit: Getty Images
Credit: Getty Images
Getty Images/Allsport

Ahead of Bolton Wanderers' first game of 2016, we take a look at the career of Huddersfield and Wanderers legend, Frank Worthington.

Frank Worthington was born 23rd November 1948 in Halifax. Worthington began his career in Yorkshire with this weekends opponents, Huddersfield Town, in 1966.

At a young age, Worthington shone in training. Huddersfield manager at the time, Ian Greaves, said he was forced to reprimand Worthington after he had tried to dictate the content of training sessions.

"We stood there, looking at each other, eye to eye. He was talking to me and his eyes never left mine, but he must have flicked the ball up 47 times. He flicked it up and caught it behind him on his neck, down the back of his neck, hoofed it over his back and caught it on his foot, something I could never do if I played forever. I thought, 'How do you give him a telling-off when he's doing that?' That's Frank."

Initially playing in midfield for Huddersfield, Worthington moved up front and his 18 goals in the 1969/1970 season was key to Huddersfield's promotion to the First Division. After two years in the top flight, Huddersfield were eventually relegated, so Worthington handed in a transfer request.

Durng his time at Huddersfield, Frank Worthington caught the eye of Sir Alf Ramsey, and was called up to the England U23 team. He made a poor impression from the off: he arrived at Heathrow airport in high-heeled cowboy boots, a red silk shirt and a lime velvet jacket, prompting a shocked Ramsey to let fly an expletive. "I suppose I've always been a bit of a peacock," Worthington later explained.

Due to his performances, Worthington was sounded out by legendary manager Bill Shankly to partner Kevin Keegan at Liverpool. Bidding a then British transfer record of £150,000, it was clear Liverpool were desperate to sign Worthington. However, things didn't pan out.

Worthington failed a medical due to 'high blood pressure', brought on by excessive sexual activity. Thinking a holiday would relax Worthington, he went to Majorca, with George Best.

Worthington was dating Miss Great Britain at the time, but chatted up another woman on the plane to the Balearic Islands before having a threesome with a Swedish mother and daughter, and then another romp with a Belgian lady (he later titled his autobiography One Hump or Two?). He returned to Anfield for a second medical, and failed again, leading Liverpool to call the move off.

Worthington instead went to Leicester City, for a fee of around £80,000, nearly half what Liverpool were willing to pay.

In total for Huddersfield, Worthington 41 league goals in 171 games.

Worthington spent five years with Leicester, scoring on average a goal every three games. A month after his arrival, Leicester were leading Don Revie's Leeds United 1-0 at Elland Road when he produced a moment of magic.

"I was down by the corner flag, hemmed in by Johnny Giles," he said. "I flipped the ball over my shoulder and over his head. He just turned to me and said, in a cold, calculating, matter-of-fact sort of way, 'If you ever take the piss out of me or Leeds United again, I'll break your legs'."

It was during his time at Leicester when Worthington made his England debut in 1974. In 8 games for England, Worthington scored 2 goals, including one against Argentina in a 2-2 draw.

After the appointment of Don Revie as England manager, Worthington failed to represent England again, with Worthington stating:

"He wanted the yes-men, He didn't like the individuals, the characters, the rebels."

After being fined and dropped for comments Worthington made to the media in 1976, Worthington was on the transfer list, and after having a summer move to South Africa blocked, Worthington subsequently reunited with former manager Ian Greaves at Second Division side Bolton Wanderers.

In total for Leicester City, Worthington scored 71 league goals in 210 games.

Worthington's debut season for Bolton was successful. He formed a formidable partnership with another Wanderers legend, Neil Whatmore, and due to their goalscoring prowess, Bolton won the Second Division in 1978, meaning promotion to the top flight.

Worthington's best season in a white shirt came in the 1978/1979 season. Bolton finished 17th, straying away from the relegation places (Chelsea finished rock bottom that season). On a personal level, Worthington scored 24 goals, which was enough for Worthington to win the Golden Boot. Worthington is the last Wanderers player to top the goal scoring charts in the Top Flight.

Among those 24 goals was one that came in a 3-2 defeat against Ipswich Town at Burnden Park in April 1979. Arguably one of the greatest ever goals scored by a Bolton player, Worthington flicked the ball over his head, before volleying the ball into the corner of the goal. Just beautiful.

Behind the goal that day doing his job as a ball boy was future Wanderers legend, Julian Darby.

Despite his success, he made a loan switch to Philadelphia Fury in the NASL that summer, having been persuaded to make the move when the negotiators spoke to Elvis' people "to get me one of those necklaces Elvis used to give to his friends".

Worthington was a big Elvis fan, and on a pre-season tour in Germany, Ian Greaves threw Worthington's Elvis cassette out of the coach window, deciding nine straight hours of the king was enough.

Frank Worthington failed the recapture the form of the previous season, and after 7 games without a goal in the 1979/1980 season, Worthington moved to Birmingham City, for a fee of £150,000 in November 1979.

A true Bolton legend, Worthington scored 38 in 92 Bolton games. He also owned a clothes boutique in the town, and in 2005, was named 5th in a list of the 50 best Bolton Wanderers players.

Worthington spent three years with Birmingham City, helping them gain promotion in 1980. Worthington also had loan spells in Sweden and the USA during his time at Birmingham.

He then had spells with Leeds United, Sunderland, Southampton and Brighton & Hove Albion. In 1985, Worthington became player-manager of 4th Division side Tranmere Rovers. After two years with Tranmere, Worthington played for a a range of sides, such as Chorley, Radcliffe Borough, Galway United and Cape Town Spurs.

Worthington finished his career at Halifax Town, following in the footsteps of his older brothers and Dad, who had all played for hometown team Halifax.

In 757 league appearances throughout his career, Worthington scored 234 goals.

SIDENOTE: One of Frank Worthington's brothers, Dave Worthington, was a scout for Bolton during the Big Sam era, and was responsible for the signings of Abdoulaye Faye and Nicolas Anelka. He also scouted Hugo Lloris and Samir Nasri, but the transfer fees were too much. Imagine those two playing for Bolton.

What a legend the 'working man's George Best' was.