Big Interview: Former Preston North End ace Mick Rathbone who has authored a new book

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Dave Seddon talks to former Preston North End and Everton physio Mick Rathbone who has just published his second book The Smell of Football 2

It is said that everyone has a book in them, something which Mick Rathbone has taken a step further with the release of a second book written by his own fair hand.

Being a successful author is another string Rathbone has added to his bow and he’s proud as punch of this latest release.

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It was back in 2011 that the former Preston North End full-back turned physio, published ‘The Smell of Football’.

Mick RathboneMick Rathbone
Mick Rathbone

The book chronicled his playing career which saw him play for Birmingham, Blackburn, North End and Halifax – where he also had a stint as manager – and his move into being a football physio.

It was at PNE where he forged his reputation as a physio, leading to him becoming head of the medical department at Everton for eight years.

His first book was written after he left Everton and it is events since then which are covered in the excellent follow-up ‘The Smell of Football 2’.

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If anyone thought Rathbone would be lost to the game after his exit from the Toffees, then they were very much wrong.

He’s taken those physio skills and an ability to run as hard as any top player, to a variety of locations.

Rathbone returned to PNE briefly, he worked at Manchester United, Coventry, Nottingham Forest, Wigan, Blackpool and Crawley Town.

He was on the staff of the England Under-17s and then ended up at the other extreme of international football with Montserrat. Rathbone was to find himself back at Everton, this time with

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their Under-23s, and to bring his story up to the present day, he’s working at Salford City until the end of January.

“It’s great to be an author and when people said the first book was really good, that was superb to hear,” said Rathbone.

“Neither book was difficult to write because it is fact, you are not having to develop characters like in a novel. I wanted to write the second one because there was a good thread.

“I thought it was really interesting because all the clubs and places I’ve worked at since 2010 had something intriguing about them.

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“It was a thread of me getting older and feeling like an endangered species.

“But I knew that while I was able to run outside with players, it didn’t matter that I couldn’t operate a machine or switch a laptop on. I was really lucky in a way that something happened at every club I went to.

“I wanted to make the second book a very good one, a strong one. I wanted to make it a quality one in terms of the hardback print and the word count.

“I had that fear of people saying it was just a rubbish version of the first one but it’s had some great reviews and there have been a couple of eminent journalists who say it is even better than the first! When I heard that I was absolutely buzzing.

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“It’s nice to be accepted as a reasonably good author, to be the writer of two books. I’m proud of that.

“The first chapter of the second book is all about my last hour with David Moyes at Everton in 2010, the parting of the ways.

“I hadn’t really touched on that in the first book but it is all about 30 minutes of interaction between myself and essentially my best friend in football.”

I chat with Rathbone, known as ‘Baz’ on the football circuit, over a coffee just a short distance from Deepdale.

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He forged a successful partnership with David Moyes while at PNE, so much so that Moyes lured him to Everton in 2002.

Rathbone was to return to North End in 2011 when Phil Brown was manager.

“I wished I hadn’t gone back in a way although I did enjoy it,” said Rathbone.

“It was David Unsworth who got me to go back, it was Unsy who later got me back at Everton too.

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“I went in to help out with the longer-term injured lads so that Matt Jackson could look after the day-to-day stuff and the shorter-term injuries.

“When I’d worked under David Moyes at Preston, we had started off training on Moor Park or up at Myerscough College.

“Then we got our own training ground at Springfields and on the first day when we pushed the gates open, David and myself started to pull some weeds up off the driveway for a bit of a laugh.

“It became a feeling we had that if there were no weeds on the path, we were doing well and being successful.

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“When I went back nine years later, there were weeds growing at the training ground – that was a sign of where the club was at then.

“Phil Brown was great with me, he did everything he could to try and turn things around. There were problems off the pitch and Preston went down.

“I always think fondly of Preston, especially when I see Deepdale and in particular Moor Park across the road.

“On my first day as physio in June 1995 under Gary Peters, I took two young lads running on Moor Park, Kevin Kilbane and Gareth Ainsworth.”

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Rathbone is in the last few weeks of a spell as physio at Salford City in League Two.

At 63, he still thinks he has plenty left to give to the game, although perhaps in a different capacity to his present role.

Rathbone said: “I still go out and run every day with the players. I’m not in the top running group anymore but I’m in the middle group.

“I can still put over a cross with either foot as good as anyone at the club.

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“Maybe this will be my last job as a physio. What I’d like to do next is the kind of job I did at Manchester United. There I worked with the younger lads and was the loans manager.

“When lads went out on loan, I’d keep in touch and go and watch their games.”

The Smell of Football 2 is self-published by Rathbone and costs £14.99. More information is available at

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