Hi, my name is Mike Trusson and I was a professional footballer in England, playing for 5 professional league teams, Plymouth Argyle, Sheffield Utd, Rotherham Utd, Brighton and Hove Albion and Gillingham, from 1976 – 1992. I played over 500 league and cup games scoring over 80 goals.
I am very proud of my football career, because despite having very little pace, which believe me is a fundamental attribute for all professional footballers, I managed to achieve what every young football player dreams about – to be a professional football player.
In the 16 years I spent as a professional player I was very influenced by a number of managers, coaches and players and gained an understanding of “the beautiful game” of football, which has helped me enormously with my subsequent coaching career.
It all started when I was invited to attend a trial for Plymouth Argyle when I was aged 14, back in 1973. It was a horrible, wet and windy winter Sunday, when I turned up in a small Devon village called Ermington. There were perhaps 50 other hopeful, excited and nervous young players there. The club had organised a series of trial matches, which all took place on one very waterlogged and windswept pitch. At the time I was considered a very average player, I was still pretty small and scrawny and there were lots of better players than me in Somerset where I lived. The truth is I was only at the trial because one of my team mates at the local youth club, who had been invited, was injured and I was his very late substitute.
Despite the utter chaos of the day, with players being bought on and off at regular intervals and the weather, I must have done something right, as I was invited back to play for Plymouth’s under 15 schoolboy team.
I don’t know if that day bought me a greater degree of confidence and self belief, but I never really looked back and rapidly improved as a player. Plymouth had some very good coaches, who helped me develop, both as a player and with my self confidence and I progressed rapidly through the ranks, eventually making my debut aged 17 as a replacement for the transferred Paul Mariner – who went on to play for Arsenal and England, as a centre forward in 1976 against Bristol Rovers. My debut, was summed up by my Mums comment after the game “you looked like a little boy out there. But at least you tried hard!”
For the next 3 years I was in and out of Plymouth First Team. A combination of a big growth spurt, a lack of strength, a lack of pace, injuries and a regular change of Managers restricted my progress. But by the time I was 20, I was a regular in the first team and had impressed a number of clubs who were interested in signing me from Plymouth.
So in the summer of 1980, aged 21, I was transferred to Sheffield Utd. It was quite a culture shock both moving from Argyle, to the Blades, who had a very big stadium and a famous history and from moving from the beautiful South West coast of England, to one of the great industrial cities of England. But, over time I grew to love both the club and the city, but it certainly wasn’t love at first sight!!
In my first season, we were relegated, with the last kick in the last game of the season, which was the worst experience of my professional career. In my second season, we were promoted and I won the Sheffield Utd player of the season, which was my proudest moment. I won the player of the year award again in my third season and got promoted and was transferred to Rotherham Utd in my fourth season. This transfer, was and still is a bit of a mystery to me and many people.
Despite Rotherham Utd being Sheffield Utd’s near neighbours and a much smaller club, I had a great time there and for a period probably played the best football of my career. I spent three and a half years at Rotherham, before being transferred to Brighton and Hove Albion on the South Coast of England. Whilst on a professional level, the transfer didn’t really work out for me, I really enjoyed my 2 years there and still hold the club and the people in great affection.
My last professional transfer in England was to Gillingham, then in the old fourth division. This meant a lot of travelling from my home in Sussex, which wasn’t always ideal preparation for either training or playing. But despite this and playing for possible the most eccentric Manager I have ever come across, I enjoyed my time at the club, before age and an ongoing ankle problem forced my retirement from English football in 1992.
I was fortunate that I then had the opportunity to play for 6 months in the newly formed professional league in Hong Kong, which proved to be a fantastic and very different playing, training and cultural experience!!
As you might imagine, there is a lot more to my career than this brief outline and I hope you join me for my regular blogs as I recall and reveal some of the stories behind my career, the truly different and amazing characters I played with and who managed and coached me and to share with you some of the, I hope funny, on and off the pitch stories, adventures and scrapes that I managed to get myself involved in.
Mine is not a glory story of a successful professional footballer, I wish it was! But it is the story of a journey man player, who for a while had the best job in the World. I hope you join me as I recall my 16 year journey from a young, wide eyed, hopeful and very wet trialist at Plymouth Argyle to one of the “gwilos” playing in the Hong Kong League.