Paul Moulden once battered defences with a world record 289 goals in 40 games for Bolton Lads Club, before bursting on to the scene at Manchester City. Now he has devoted his life to cod as the long-time owner of a fish and chip shop...
"My shop is called Paul's Chippy and it's in Tonge Fold in Bolton. I used to have a shop in Great Lever before I moved here. I've been doing this since I retired about 15 years ago.
I played with one or two people who put me off the game a little bit so I wanted a clean break when I packed in. I decided to get out of football and stand on my own two feet for a little while, and I’m still standing on them.
I’ve taken the determination I had as a footballer into the chippy. I was talking about it to my eldest lad the other day; I said that once you’ve played football and mastered that game, everything else is quite easy in life. I found that, anyway. You're used to a bit of pressure and you're used to doing things quickly, and they're all good tools for later in life.
I got in the Guinness Book of Records because I scored a few goals when I played at Bolton Lads Club and a great-uncle of mine, who was good with the letters, decided it must be some kind of record. He wrote off to the Guinness Book of Records and they passed it as a record.
It was 289 goals in 40 games for the under-15s, I think. Of course I was proud but it was just one of those things that happened because we had two lads who played for England Schoolboys in the same team – Julian Darby, who played for Bolton, and Ian Scott, who played for City.
It was a good team – I think Julian scored over 120 as well! The team scored a lot of goals every year, but it was just an exceptional year and it did give me a lot of confidence. We had a lot of clubs down looking at everybody, not just me.
I was already at City then and it was brilliant to go on to play for them. From walking in to being shown the door playing for City was a great experience. I loved working with Tony Book, Glyn Pardoe and Ken Barnes.
Every year as I progressed with the club we won something – the Lancashire League, the FA Youth Cup, the Central League – and then, with the first team, going to Bradford on the last day of the season and getting promotion to the First Division.
I'd had a good start to my time in the first team, I got injured in the second season but I did well in the third season [with 17 goals, Moulden was City's top scorer in that promotion campaign]. So it was very sad from my point of view that I didn’t stay longer.
The manager at the time, Mel Machin, just didn’t fancy me. I was offered a contract but it was a contract you’d have been a fool to sign, so I didn’t sign it and I became for sale. All the backroom staff and everyone else concerned was upset that I was going but to have tied yourself down for three years on the contract they were offering, you would have been a fool. That was the lever to get me out.
I went to Bournemouth and played for Harry Redknapp: they had some good players, like Luther Blissett, Paul Miller and goalkeeper Gerry Peyton. The thing that struck me was how many old players they had – I was 22 at the time – but Harry was just starting out and I suppose for his first job he wanted security around himself. It was a small club and I'd imagine he had to get success quickly. Harry was a nice guy, a decent manager.
After Bournemouth I came back to Oldham when they were having a good run and were FA Cup semi-finalists. I had two-and-a-half seasons there but I didn’t play much because they had some good players and the artificial pitch was probably a bit too quick a surface for me to play on. I had a spell at Brighton on loan before I went to Birmingham City. I did well there but then I had a bad injury which was the start of the end for me.
Now I do a bit of coaching with kids, with the young teams in Darcy Lever in Bolton. There’s three teams I work with at under 11s and under 12s, and I really enjoy it.
I did three years of coaching at Manchester City's Academy until my boys started playing. I enjoyed it immensely at City but a lot of the work was at weekends so I had to draw a line under it because you have to look after your own boys.
My boys are called Joseph, Ted and Louis. One is 16, one's 12 and the youngest is 10-and-a-half. All three are promising, the older lad needs a club but he’s training with Liverpool at the moment, and my little one is at Liverpool. They're not all strikers though, my youngest is a goalkeeper, the middle one can score goals but the eldest’s best position is probably as a holding midfield player or centre half. It’s a varied mix.
As far as I know I don't think my record has been beaten. Times have changed and there are not many kids playing to the age of 15 in local leagues now, they’re all with an Academy. It’s a different culture now.
But I don't wish I'd had the training at a modern Academy because for me there's a lot wrong with the Academy system. The game doesn’t mean anything. It used to be that when you found a club you really liked, like I did with Man City, you pulled your tripe out to perform and get on at that club. When you played it wasn't just another game on a Sunday. Now they play like they train and there’s no more determination in the game than there is training. I think that’s wrong.
If it’s right for my boys it would be nice to see them go on to become footballers, but there’s no pressure on them. If it’s not right then I will be happy with whatever path they follow."
Paul's Chippy is on Bury Road in Tonge Fold, Bolton, and FourFourTwo.com editor Gary Parkinson will happily confirm that the food is delicious.