Mick Buckley – A Tribute

"It is with great sadness that I find myself trying to do justice to a footballer who many fans of my age looked up to and admired as he played for the club we loved and clearly he loved playing for the club."

With the extremely sad news that a relatively young man is no longer with us, it is with great sadness that I find myself trying to do justice to a footballer who many fans of my age looked up to and admired as he played for the club we loved and clearly he loved playing for the club.

He may not feature in an all-time greats of Goodison or even be chosen in the list of the best midfielders to play for Everton. But if you were to choose the type of player that best represents Everton FC and its fans you would be hard-pressed to find a player with the same qualities that Mick Buckley showed in his Everton career as for a few years he became part of the very fabric of his team. He may not have dazzled or scored stunning goals week in week out, but he was always there plugging away for the Blues’ regardless of his performance you always knew he was trying his best.

I can’t really do justice to the footballer and person that Mick Buckley was so I decided to copy verbatim a profile that was used in a match against Manchester City, shortly before he celebrated his Twenty-First Birthday in November 1974, the game was played at Goodison on Saturday 2nd November, Mick's 21st was the following Monday.

It is strange how some of the most important milestones in one’s life can be squeezed into just a couple of weeks. Consider the case of the talented Mick Buckley, for instance. On Monday October 21st he discovered he had been selected by England Manager Don Revie for his 22 strong squad for the Under-23 International with Czechoslovakia.

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Today he hopes to play against Manchester City – always an important fixture for him as you will discover as you read on – and on Monday he will celebrate his 21st birthday.

Unfortunately Mick, who has already represented his country in schools and youth internationals, was robbed of his chance of an under-23 cap when he had to withdraw from Don Revie’s party because of a knee strain he had suffered at Burnley last Saturday, “I was very pleased to be included in the squad,” he said.

“You can imagine how sick I feel about the injury after coming so close to fulfilling one of my ambitions. While I have used the Under 23 as my target this season I did not count too much on being included because the disappointment would have been terrific if I hadn’t made it. Instead I have concentrated on improving my club game as much as I could and getting satisfaction from the good start the club have made.

“At a club like Everton where there is a very strong first team pool the pressure is always on for a first team place and that is why it has been – and still remains – vital for me to be in my best form in every game. What has helped of course has been the fact that I have been able to command a more regular place in the side.

“A regular place gives me one confidence and this extra-assurance has been reflected in my play. For the season before last I came into a side which was struggling to find its form both as individuals and as a team. It was very difficult for me, a comparative inexperienced player, to come into a side which was suffering as we were.

“In these circumstances – and this is only natural and I accept it – every player is more concerned with his own problems and with trying to straighten them out than worrying about the problems affecting others.

“But since then we have, as a side, made great strides and the improved performances have meant that we have been able to give one another a hand. Last season, for instance, I got a tremendous amount of help and advice from Dave Clements, who had a wonderful season.

“As a very experienced player, with international honours at every level, he gave me a lot of great tips and when you’re alongside a player in such great form then something has to rub off you. I have certainly felt the benefit this season and I have been reasonably pleased with the way I’ve been playing.

“Confidence. That’s the whole key to it all, I no longer regard other midfield men as my superiors, I now say to myself that I’m as good as anyone I come across in midfield and then go out and try to prove myself right. And as I’m a basically shy lad, that’s a change in my outlook on the game.

Shyness, it was one of the key factors behind Mick’s decision to join Everton in the first place. That, and the fact that Everton’s chief Scout Harry Cooke realised he had some hot property when he saw it and wet out of his way to make sure that the player came to Goodison and nowhere else.

It is also one of the reasons why Mick rates today’s game with Manchester City so highly for as a Salford lad his first allegiance as a supporter was to Manchester United – and the Mancunian ties remain just as strong today.

“As a schoolboy I knew that I was watched by quite a few clubs, including both of the Manchester sides, “ explains Mick, “But I took the advice of my father and didn’t sign schoolboy forms for any of them. The reasoning behind this was that had I done so I would have been tied to them until I left school and that I wouldn’t have the opportunities of visiting other clubs to see the facilities that they had to offer.

“Another piece of advice my father gave me was to concentrate on northern clubs because he knew, because of my shyness, that I would not relish the idea of living in digs, but he knew I would miss the freedom I am given at home.

“I went to both Manchester clubs and to Burnley and even Liverpool but the place that impressed me most was Everton – and a lot of that was due to the fact that Harry Cooke showed such a great interest in my development and well-being.

“I still live in Manchester and travel back and forth every day. When I was an apprentice id did it on the train and now I use my car. It meant a round trip of some 60 to 70 miles every day but that doesn’t worry me one little bit.

“I always look forward to playing against the Manchester clubs because there are so many Mancunians who know me and my family and these are the games in which it is absolutely vital for me to do well.

“So with the league position as it is, it is essential that I have a good one against City today – both from my own personal point of view and for the team.”


Full Name: Michael John Buckley
Birthplace: Salford
Date of Birth: November 4th 1953
Previous Clubs: None
International Record: England Schools and Youth
Schoolboy Hero: Denis Law
Best Player in your position: Gerry Francis
Player you most admire: Mike Lyons for his dedication and all-out effort. No matter where he plays he always gives 100 per cent and he doesn’t know the meaning of defeat.
Favourite Ground: Old Trafford or Maine Road, as a Mancunian I love going there.
Favourite male singer: Elton John
Favourite Female Singer: Maggie Bell

I hope this article from the programme for Everton v Manchester City played at Goodison on November 2nd 1974 gives a flavour of the type of character that Mick Buckley was. All the qualities that Mick himself felt about Mike Lyons would I’m sure be proffered at about Mick Buckley from those who played alongside him or those of us fortunate to have watched him playing for Everton FC all those years ago. Plenty of the people plying their trade in the Premier League today could learn a lot from Mick Buckley and his values.

The result of the game of course is secondary, but Mick played his part in a two-nil victory for the Merseyside Blues’ which took them into the top three level on points with Manchester City, so Mick could return to his Manchester home with his head held high. Mick may have been a Manchester lad but he’ll always be remembered fondly by those of us in Liverpool who had the privilege to watch him play.

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Reader Comments (9)

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Peter May
1 Posted 09/10/2013 at 01:28:33
A decent way to remember Mick. He was only 4 years older than me and I used to dream like most of us, that that could be me out there. He only looked a small lad (like me) and he made it as a pro following my all time hero Alan Ball, in our midfield. Goodnight and God bless Mick, you are with some of our greats who have passed recently.
Paul Ferry
2 Posted 09/10/2013 at 18:34:59
Very nice stuff Patrick and not a single word that does not fittingly honour Mick's memory. Nice one.
Tony Pemberton
3 Posted 09/10/2013 at 23:21:38
The fans had a song for him too as he was a popular player amongst us. I cannot for the life of me remember it though. Can anyone recollect it?

Rest in peace Mick

Mike Owen
4 Posted 10/10/2013 at 02:27:19
I was saddened to hear of Mick passing away. He was a favourite of mine. As a youth, he was one of those saddled with being labelled an exciting prospect, but he handled that. Skilful and tenacious.
I also recall an impish grin and a typical 70s haircut.
I enjoyed watching him play. Regards to his family.
Andrew James
5 Posted 10/10/2013 at 23:18:50
I was born in 78 (in fact in the same month we sold Mick) so the mid-70's team is not something I was particularly educated about other than Latch and McKenzie.

Yet I pass on my regards to his family and his memory as he was obviously a good Evertonian.

I ask all Toffees who saw him play, who in our team of the last decade would you compare him to? Just so I can understand his role in the side.

Andrew James
6 Posted 10/10/2013 at 23:26:27
Sorry, also meant to add he was no real age either so that adds to the sense of loss for his loved ones.
Peter Mills
7 Posted 11/10/2013 at 08:19:44
Andrew, I would probably liken Mick to Leon Osman, a neat and tidy player, skilful, not afraid of getting stuck in, but short of pace and prone to being outmuscled. And a similarly good Evertonian who played for the team, not himself.
Mike Owen
8 Posted 11/10/2013 at 22:16:58
Yes, Leon Osman. I would also put forward Tony Grant.
Martin Mason
9 Posted 12/10/2013 at 12:29:25
I watched Mick Buckley coming through the Everton youth system and we all thought he was a younger Colin Harvey in looks and ability. He never reached his massive potential though. RIP, Mick.

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