570 Micky Horswill

Biography

Hard working midfielder Micky Horswill joined the Tigers in July 1978 for a £30,000 fee as manager Ken Houghton built a squad capable of competing for promotion back to Division Two following the previous season’s relegation. Horswill was immediately introduced into the City engine room and looked the part with tough tackling, willing running and chipping in with regular goals. Micky scored City’s first League goal of the season in a 1-1 draw against Carlisle United (future Tiger Mick Tait scoring for the opposition that day) and before Christmas he had added further goals against Rotherham United and Tranmere Rovers. After missing three games in early January 1979 Horswill returned to the first eleven and scored three further goals against Swansea City, Plymouth Argyle and Lincoln City. By the end of the season he had missed only six of the 51 senior matches played and established himself as an important cog in Houghton’s midfield.

Things went less well in the 1979/80 season, Horswill started the first five games before an ankle injury kept him out of the side for five months. When Mick returned in February 1980 Houghton was sacked and replaced by new manager Mike Smith, who had started his own squad rebuild. Horswill filled in at left back and midfield for the rest of the season but the achilles injuries that dogged the rest of his career had started to take hold and he was unable to hold down a regular starting place. Mick was deployed at left back for the 1980/81 season before injuries again intervened and it wasn’t until April 1981 that he was back to full fitness and again able to play in his preferred midfield role. By now made first team captain, further injuries hampered Horswill’s game time in the 1981/82 season and when the club entered administration in February 1982 and Smith was removed from the manager’s role, Horswill was one of several players who decided to leave the club.

Michael Frederick Horswill was born in Annfield Plain in the heart of the North Durham coalfield. He was spotted by Sunderland at a young age and entered their youth system, becoming an apprentice professional in July 1968 and was elevated to the Reserves during the 1970/71 season after signing his first contract at Roker Park in March 1970. Horswill was chosen as first team substitute a few times during the second half of the 1971/72 season and eventually made his first team debut in a February 1972 Division Two match against Preston North End. He impressed and retained his first team place for the rest of the season and started the 1972/73 season as Sunderland’s first choice defensive midfielder.

After starting the season in poor form Sunderland improved from December 1972 onwards, a recovery that coincided with the club’s entry into the FA Cup. Horswill was a key part of the first eleven, scoring his first League goal against Middlesbrough in February 1973 during a run of just one defeat in fourteen league matches. The Rokerites also progressed in the Cup, beating Division One side Manchester City in a Fifth Round replay then reaching the Final via wins against Division Two side Luton Town and Division One giants Arsenal. Late season defeats ended Sunderland’s chances of an unlikely promotion from Division Two, finishing the season in sixth place. But Sunderland did achieve an unlikely Cup Final win in May 1973 against Leeds United, often considered the best English side of the time, thanks to goalkeeping heroics from Jim Montgomery and a fine winning goal from Ian Porterfield. Horswill started all nine FA Cup ties including the Final, scoring in the Fifth Round against Manchester City and featured heavily in the post-victory photography that persisted in the public consciousness for many years afterwards.

Horswill remained a first team regular in the 1973/74 season as Sunderland tried to gain promotion out of Division Two while also competing in the European Cup Winners’ Cup – Horswill started all four European ties as Sunderland beat Vasas Budapest 3-0 on aggregate, then narrowly lost 2-3 on aggregate to Sporting Lisbon with Micky scoring in the first leg at Roker Park. When Horswill left the club in March 1974 he had scored five goals for Sunderland in 92 senior appearances.

In March 1974 Division One side Manchester City made a double transfer swoop with Dennis Tueart and Micky Horswill both switching to the Maine Road side and Tony Towers moving the other way – Horswill valuation in the transfer was £100,000. He made his Division One debut in the March 1974 derby against Manchester United but during the 1974/75 season he was selected sparingly for the first team. By the 1975 close season Micky had made just 15 senior appearances for Manchester City.

In June 1975 Horswill decided to drop out of the top flight to find more game time, joining Division Two side Plymouth Argyle. His three seasons in the South West saw him re-established as a first team regular, showing his versatility by combining duties in midfield and at left back. The Pilgrims were relegated to Division Three at the end of the 1976/77 season and by the time Horswill transferred to Hull City in July 1978 he had scored three goals in 118 senior appearances for Plymouth Argyle.

Horswill left Hull City in March 1982 and moved to Hong Kong, playing for Happy Valley FC alongside another ex-Tiger Nick Deacy. After a successful season that saw him selected for a Hong Kong representative XI against Monaco, Horswill left Happy Valley in July 1983. He made a brief return to the Football League when he joined Division Two side Carlisle United in August 1983 for a one month trial, reuniting with his FA Cup Final manager Bob Stokoe from ten years earlier. But after just one first team start against Blackburn Rovers in August 1983 he left Ewood Park and a subsequent trial at Division Four side Hartlepool United came to nothing. In October 1983 he joined Northern Premier League side Barrow, managed by another ex-Sunderland teammate Vic Halom, but after a handful of starts Micky accepted that injuries meant he had to retire from playing – Horswill’s 12 season career in English senior football featured 14 goals in 326 senior appearances.

Horswill then entered to licensed trade, running pubs in Boldon and Durham during the 1980s. He recovered from a potentially life-threatening car accident in February 1988 and spent the summer of 1989 coaching for Tampa Bay Rowdies, his only return to club football following his retirement as a player. From the 1990s onwards he sold kitchens and was a regular contributor to nightly North East local radio football phone-ins alongside other footballing legends Malcolm MacDonald and Bernie Slaven, a job that came to an abrupt end in 2013.

Details

Nationality: England
Date/Place of Birth: 6 March 1953, Annfield Plain
Hull City First Game: 12 August 1978, Peterborough United H (League Cup First Round First Leg), 25 years, 159 days old
Hull City Final Game: 9 March 1982, Scunthorpe United H (Division Four), 29 years, 3 days old

Clubs

Sunderland (1969-1974), Manchester City (1974-1975), Plymouth Argyle (1975-1978), Hull City (1978-1982), Happy Valley (1982-1983), Carisle United (1983), Barrow (1983)

Hull City Record

Career: 100 apps, 6 goals

Micky Horswill
SeasonLGE
App
LGE
Gls
FAC
App
FAC
Gls
FLC
App
FLC
Gls
EUR
App
EUR
Gls
OTH
App
OTH
Gls
1978/7940 (0)62 (0)03 (0)0
1979/8012 (1)02 (0)0
1980/8113 (0)01 (0)01 (0)02 (0)0
1981/8217 (1)02 (0)03 (0)0

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