As a tribute to Dickie Danson here is his interview in Derek Quinn’s book “Sunset Over Christie Park''.
I first came to Morecambe at 15 in 1956. I was at PNE but a chap called Ronnie Meadows asked me to come down here to play. He was an ex Burnley goalkeeper who worked at Storeys in Morecambe and was starting to build a youth system up for first team manager Ken Horton.
He persuaded me because he said at Preston there were 40 or 50 kids and I would have more chance of developing at Morecambe and I went straight into the reserves. I also had a first team game at 15 believe it or not, close to 16. I don’t think I was the youngest to ever play for Morecambe though because Ray Hilton was even younger I think. I only had the one game in 1957 at Ashton Utd away.
Ronnie Meadows made a good job of the youth team and we had a youth cup game against Leeds Utd during that time which was obviously a big day for us although it was a one off and we lost about 6-0. They were good times and we played behind Christie Park which was an exceptional pitch at one time. We got changed in the back of the main stand which was the old wooden stand. One of the big characters was Geoff Slack and there was Alex Smith, Ken Udall and Ronnie Mitchell. I remember I was playing for the Reserves and we were playing at Belle Vue against Northern Nomads and we took Ronnie Mitchell, who had just signed for Leeds then, to Burnden Park in Bolton because nobody had their own transport in those days and we picked him up on the way back. Could you imagine that now?
The training has changed immensely from when I was a player. We had about three balls between about 15 of us and things have changed enormously and for the better. Jack Gorst was the trainer but Clarrie Hoillins was around then and I remember him playing as a winger for the Reserves. Mark Lawrenson’s dad was here and I played with him many a time in the Reserves.
He was ex North End and we had a lot of former Preston players in those days because of Ken Horton. When I was coming up to 18 I was told I was going to get a contract and everyone was telling me that but they asked me to go trial games and there was loads of ex Preston lads there and no mention of a contract and I just spat my dummy out and walked out and went to Galgate in the North Lancs League and was basically running the club by the time I was 20 and we won everything.
I obviously later went to Lancaster and I was there for 18 years before I came back to the club. It was Trevor Webb, who I played at Preston with as a kid, who got me back down to the club to work with the Reserves. He had been working with them but was going to have to pack in and asked me if I fancied it and I jumped at it.
Working with the youngsters has always been my main role but I did have an interesting game as first team manager when Bryan Griffiths got the sack and I was in charge for a match against Barrow where all the fans were shouting to sack the board. Leighton James came in for a short time but then Jimmy Harvey took over and asked me if I would be his assistant and I did that and have had a few roles since.
I get real satisfaction in seeing players improve between the ages of 16 and 18 and there are very few who go away not having improved and that is job satisfaction.
One of the best days I remember is when we beat Boston away in the Northern Premier League promotion season, it was a fantastic performance and I sort of knew then that the club was going forward.