WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

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The Independent Online
Among the memories that will fade a little with the passing of Ayresome Park, the goalscoring feats of John Hickton are prominent. A tally of 185 in 482 League appearances between 1967 and 1976 earned him a status on Teesside to compare with Malcolm MacDonald's just up the coast.

He returned to Ayresome on Sunday, to join Middlesbrough's emotional farewell. "The fans always treated me right," he said. "That was the thing I loved most about the place, and the atmosphere when there were 40,000 in. A lot of people are sentimental about leaving but it is just progress, isn't it?"

Hickton was Middlesbrough's leading scorer for six consecutive seasons, a sequence broken, ironically, the last time they entered the top flight as champions, managed by Jack Charlton, in 1974. But Hickton was first on the sheet the next season, scoring after just five minutes of their opening First Division game at Birmingham. Later he played alongside George Best with Fort Lauderdale Strikers in America but suffered a broken leg in only his second match.

Today, aged 50, Hickton lives in Chesterfield, where he grew up, with his wife Dorothy, their 26-year-old son, Jonathan and daughter Joanne, 18. He draws an income from property investments and a job in insurance, having briefly been a newsagent in Redcar. "When I came back from America I had an offer to be reserve-team trainer at Middlesbrough but I've never been interested in coaching. If I hadn't played football I would probably have become an accountant."

Jon Culley

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