This tale begins back in ’98 in the cool Saint Etienne breeze. A young lad from Cheshire way had something special up his short Umbro sleeve. The lad had 23 goals in the big leagues, 23 times he had got his name up in lights. There was talk he could be the next big thing, Englands new hope, the man that could bring the titles back to Liverpool.
So he went on a bit of a jog did little Mickey Owen in France. Floppy haired Becks lofted it up. A deftness of touch and a burst of raw pace. A jink right, a jink left, and a sublime finish. Good God it was good. But that was it. That was best, his zenith, his peak. The mountains rolled away in front of him, he would never tread so high again, than he did that night in St Etienne. I doubt if he knew it, but ahead of little Mickey, lay the foothills and plains. Some high points yes, but at the end of it all was a city by the sea, all altitude lost, the Gallowgate called.
And so it went. Make no mistake, little Mickey still tucked them away; another eighteen then eleven more, before one glorious season that promised so much. Mickey won the cup by himself he did, one afternoon in Cardiff, then again in Dortmund. Three titles for Mickey and the Reds. This was it, they could challenge for the league, the Champions League. Gerrard knew how to do it, Mickey knew how to find the net. He got three on that night in Munchen, the first man do that since some bloke in red. Liverpool were ready, and so was Mickey. How could it fail? Yet fail it did, it all unravelled somehow, it didn’t happen. It was time for a change.
So Mickey went Galactico, when he could get a game. The boy did good, he outscored Raul and everyone else in Spain. It was going so well. Except it wasn’t somehow. Goals per minute is great n’ all, but if you still ain’t getting the minutes so what can you do? You could go to Newcastle I suppose.
Hoho, Mickey was to good for that, he could never be convinced tha Tyneside is where his future lay. But he did it, he wanted to play, hats off to the lad. Alas, injurys took their toll, he scored when he could but is wasn’t what it was supposed to be. As he looked over his shoulder little Mickey could see European glories over on the Mersey. Should have gone back lad, should never have left. Turns out fortune dosen’t allways favour the brave. You can be a man, and stride out from home, away from the worship of the Kop, and how does fate repay you, by exploding your knees that’s how.
When Mickey was playing, he could still put them in, but that second night in Germany, something broke. The knee poping, the spiralling fall. Seemed like the nation recoiled, seemed like Mickey could be done, but he wasn’t. The lad picked things up, and after a years out he was back on form. Keegan and Owen, how could that fail? But through in a fat man with delusions of power and fail it would. Mickey despaired with the rest of us. He got caught up in the great shitstorm of the Tyne. He lost face, he lost his England place, he got relegated for Christs sake.
But Mickey had one last trick up his sleeve. The boy couldn’t jink no more. He is a poacher now, but if you are poaching for Manchester United, you are going to catch some pheasants, and so Mickey proved. Last gasp winners, European hattricks, the boys getting them. Not bad for a lad with knees held togethor with naught but bailor twine. But these days in the sun grew rarer and rarer, a cloudy horizon awaited.
If your poaching the 2nd choice fells and moors, your pheasants won’t taste so good. Mickey can’t get amongst the prime game. These last days spent on a lesser stage. An odd way for it to end. The boy promised so much, delivered so much lest we forget. A career that dawned in bright sunlight, ends with the sun setting behind Atlantic clouds blown across the Cheshire plain. But this is a man who deserves a final parting of the fog, one last day in the sun, one last hurragh for Little Mickey O.