Historian Terry Ainsworth is a regular contributor to our nostalgia section, reporter Gemma Sherlock speaks to the man who uses his footballing passion to tell a story.
Football is in Terry Ainsworth’s blood.
Since he was a toddler Terry was never far from a ball.
Over the years his passion grew and pretty soon Terry was on the top of all of the scout’s lists.
But at the highlight of his career Terry suffered a knee injury which left him with no option but to hang his football boots up.
Despite the devastating blow his passion for football never really disappeared.
Terry Ainsworth is a name you might recognise.
His extensive knowledge of football partnered with detailed research is featured in monthly stories in our nostalgia sections.
Over the 17 years Terry has contributed 250 stories, each one bringing back precious memories for many readers.
But who is the man behind the byline?
How did his passion for football begin and just how does he produce his articles?
Born in 1942 in Brookhouse, near Lancaster, Terry lived most of his early years either at his parents’ house in Caton or at his grandparents farm in Brookhouse.
“As I grew older everyday was football or exploring the fields and woods around the farm,” said Terry, who lives in Lancaster. “Fishing, climbing trees, pinching apples and generally getting into mischief.
“I don’t remember a lot of football at St Paul’s Primary School possibly because a lot of the kids were sons of farmers and had little or no interest in any sort of sport.
“I had a wonderful childhood with my Caton friends just playing football together and finding entertainment without television or mobile phones or organised games, we simply “played out” and then at 15 years of age I was introduced to organised football at the Lancaster Lads’ Club.”
Terry went on to represent Lancashire Boys’ Clubs in the final of the Gillette Cup at Craven Cottage, London, against Hampshire Boys’ Clubs in 1959 and soon after received a letter from Blackburn Rovers inviting him for a trial at Darwen. He signed for Blackburn Rovers in the presence of manager, Dally Duncan, and club captain, Ronnie Clayton.
After starting in the “B” team Terry managed to get good reports and score a few goals, which promoted him to the “A” team.
But he had to miss games due to his work at Storeys Moor Lane Mill.
“Blackburn Rovers wrote to my parents outlining their plans for me and of course it was a great opportunity but alas one that would be spurned,” said Terry. “It proved impossible for me to get to Blackburn after work in time for training, very few people had a car in those days and my father never possessed a licence.
“Two weeks later after missing more games at Blackburn because of work and not being able to get to Blackburn to train during the week it was mutually agreed that they would cancel my contract.”
After a successful season with the Lads Club in 1959-60, winning the League Championship and the Memorial Cup, Terry decided to leave and return to Caton.
Two major things happened in the season of 1965-66.
He said: “First I got to play in the best team of the 1960s and second I suffered a cruciate knee injury on the Giant Axe in April 1966 which all but finished me on the football field.
“My cartilage was shattered and I had cruciate ligament damage which meant I would need an operation.
“Finally the doctors operated in September 1968 when I had a left medial menisectomy nearly two and a half years after I sustained the original injury.
“Ironically the knee was weaker than ever after the operation but in those days it was difficult if not impossible to get doctors to look at sporting injuries with any sort of interest.”
Terry would often go for physio treatment off a blind physiotherapist at Preston North End.
“Although I had treatment at Preston North End, my days on the football field were numbered and in 1969 I put my football boots in the dustbin and moved on.”
Several business ventures with wife Margaret followed, including a guest house, a public house and a hotel in Morecambe.
Despite his upsetting end to his footballing career, Terry’s passion stayed with him through the years.
In the 1980s he turned his attention to football research and writing.
“The libraries at Lancaster and Morecambe were fantastic resources for delving into the history of the North Lancashire League and 12 books followed at a rate of one every year,” said Terry.
“From about 2001, at the request of former sports editor, Steven Hewitt at the Lancaster Guardian, I began providing photographs from 1900 to 1970 and then began writing articles to accompany the images.”
Terry spent hours in the libraries looking through the Lancaster Guardian files from 1880-1970.
And at 10p (now 20p) a copy to print paper clippings he also spent quite a lot of money on his research too.
Now at his home he has 20 bound volume books full of football clippings from the Lancaster Guardian files.
“Some of the research would take a couple of days, other times it can take a few weeks,” said Terry.
“I get engrossed in the research and you don’t tend to look at the time.”
His stories are still going in the paper today and provide sporting fans an important memoir to the past.
Many of our readers have got in touch to request Terry’s photographs or provide him with even more.
Presently Terry also writes articles for the Morecambe Football Club match-day programmes and has contributed pieces for the Football League Paper and occasionally the Lancashire Post.
We can’t thank Terry enough for his contributions – here’s to many more to come.