On the day of the 40-year anniversary since our first ever league match back in 1978, former Latics midfielder Tommy Gore reflects on the challenge of Latics going 'full time'.
- On This Day: Tommy Gore helps us to celebrate 40 years of league football.
- Now a co-commentator on Wish FM and iFollow Latics, Tommy tells us what it was like to turn professional in 1978.
- Gore featured in Latics' first ever league match in 1978 away at Hereford United.
Midfield maestro and scorer of Latics’ first goal as a professional club just seven days before the first league match in a League Cup draw against Tranmere Rovers, Tommy Gore was an integral part of Ian McNeill’s midfield and graced Springfield Park and grounds all around the country in the non-league and the league.
Read Tommy's account below or listen to him on the latest episode of our official podcast, Latics Listen.
Recalling that very first league match at Hereford United, Tommy began:
“We’d played big cup ties before that and had tremendous results as a non-league team so we were used to playing one off games where it was a knockout situation, but the league was a totally different kettle of fish because it was going to be 46 games over a nine month period and that was the big difference. The excitement for it was building and building for about four weeks or so.
“There was total excitement and it was just the start of the journey for us because it was a momentous game in our history. With regards to preparation for it we’d only just converted to full-time training and that had only been training for about three or four weeks, so that was a big thing because physically it took a lot out of you. You tend to think training every day will make you stronger, which obviously long term it does, but when you’re not used to that it’s something your body has to acclimatise to, and there was nothing around like the sports science there is today. Our bodies were used to the pattern of training on Tuesday and Thursday nights, but then all of a sudden there was a complete change and we were at it every single day. It took us about a month into the season to be fully ready for the demands of full-time football.
“The team spirit we had was second to none but first and foremost we had a good team and you won’t get anywhere if you haven’t got good players. Put those two things together and you make it very difficult for opposition teams to overcome. The team spirit in that squad was absolutely first class.
“I actually can’t remember that much about the game itself as 40 years is a long time ago! We went out there and performed well, but what I remember the most was just the excitement in the town and within the players and the football club. We’d finally made it to the Football League and nobody could have envisaged that journey, so just to make was such a momentous occasion. I remember arriving at the ground and the supporters already being there so the buzz and the nervous tension in the dressing room beforehand was fantastic. The Chairman Arthur Horrocks and the Directors had fought tooth and nail to get the club into the Football League so you could see how much it meant to them and the supporters, that’s the abiding memory.”