Where Are They Now - Mick Heathcote
The 'Where Are They Now' series continues with Peverell Green taking a look at the career of Argyle stalwart Mick Heathcote.
MICK HEATHCOTE - Born 10th September 1965 Kelloe, County Durham.
Mick started playing football in a local league for Bowburn Crowtrees before joining Spennymoor United in 1986, he only played with them for one season before he was spotted by Sunderland, and signed for them in August 1987, they were playing at the time in the Third Division, now League 1.
After four months to give him first team experience he was loaned out to Halifax for a month, while there he made eight appearances and scored one goal, he returned to Sunderland but first team appearances were few and far between and in January 1990 he was loaned out for another month this time to York where he made four appearances.
He again returned to Sunderland and stayed for another five months, with only ten first team appearances in three seasons it was obvious his future lay elsewhere.
In July 1990 Shrewsbury manager Asa Hartford paid £55,000 to secure his signature. He only spent one season with them but was an almost ever present, playing 44 times in the league and fifteen in various cup competitions, and impressively for a central defender scored six goals and also won the club's Player of the Year award.
In September 1991 Mick's performances led Cambridge manager John Beck, to pay £150,000 to sign him on.
He spent four seasons with them making a total of 149 appearances scoring 18 goals and added another Player of the Year award to his collection. His defensive abilities were noted by the Huddersfield manager when his team played Cambridge, a certain Neil Warnock.
Neil took over as Argyle manager on 22nd June 1995 with Mick joining the club a month later on 27th July for a bargain price of £75,000. He made his debut on the opening day of the 1995-96 season in a 2-1 defeat at Colchester and scored his first goal on October 15th in a 1-1 draw at Mansfield.
His first season was a success both for Mick and the club; he captained the team to promotion after winning the play-off final at Wembley and was awarded the Player of the Year trophy.
The following season started well when he scored his only goal of the season on the opening day in a 2-1 home win over York with Carlo Corazzin getting the other, Mick made 42 league and 8 cup appearances with Argyle finishing 19th in their first season back in Division 2 (League 1).
The following season started exactly the same as the previous one with Mick again scoring in the opening game, this time in a 1-1 draw away to Bristol Rovers, unfortunately Argyle finished 22nd with a last game 2-1 defeat at Burnley confirming relegation.
1998-99 saw Argyle back in Division 3 and a good start, a 2-1 home win over Rochdale with Ronnie Mauge and Earl Jean getting the goals. All of Mick's three goals were scored by mid-September, he scored against Barnet, Scunthorpe and Peterborough and strangely enough all ended up as 2-0 wins and in each game Mick scored the first goal. Argyle finished in thirteenth position with Mick winning a second Player of the Year trophy.
The next season 1999-2000 saw the start of a back problem that would restrict his appearances, he made 29 in the league and 8 in the cup after being an almost ever present in the heart of the defence for the previous four seasons, he still managed two goals, one in the league at home to Rotherham in a 1-1 draw, and, what proved to be his final goal for the club against Reading at Home Park in a third round FA Cup replay, it was the only goal of the game after a 1-1 draw at Reading ten days earlier with Chris Hargreaves getting the Argyle goal.
The 2000-01 season was to be a short one for Mick, at least in a green shirt, his back injury meant he only made five league and one cup appearances.
As a reward for his outstanding service a testimonial was arranged for him against his first league club, Sunderland, at Home Park in July 2001, with Argyle losing 3-0, 4,923 watched the game, a decent turn out for a friendly which showed his popularity with the Argyle fans.
After proving his fitness in pre-season training, the now Argyle manager Paul Sturrock offered Mick a one year contract, while he was making his mind up whether to accept one of his former clubs, Shrewsbury, offered him a two year deal and he signed for them on 6th August 2001 on a free transfer.
In total he played 235 times for Argyle and for a centre half, scored an impressive 17 goals.
Argyle soon saw what they had let go when on the opening day of the new season 10 man Shrewsbury won 1-0 at Home Park. Although he initially signed for two years he was released after eighteen months of his contract, in that time he made 43 appearances for the Shrews scoring two goals.
Considering the later years of his league career were plagued by injuries he still managed 509 games for his six clubs scoring 44 goals.
After his league career finished he continued to play football in the Unibond League with Colwyn Bay, Leek Town and finally hung up his boots with Hucknall Town.