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Billy Garton. An extract from We're The Famous Man United. Part 6.

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  • Billy Garton. An extract from We're The Famous Man United. Part 6.

    In 2001, his life took another twist, thanks to Jeff Illingworth, Garton’s former P.E teacher from Ordsall High School. Illingworth had lived in San Diego for 20 years, coaching football. Garton had stayed close to him and had been out to California on holiday a few times to help out coaching.
    “The last time I went out, he told me that he was thinking of starting a soccer club and asked if I was interested in moving out there and being a part of a new club called ‘Carmel Valley Manchester Soccer,’ explains Garton, who uses the word ‘soccer’ throughout the interview - and apologises each time for not saying ‘football’.
    “We moved in 2001 and it has gone well ever since. We have two kids, Billy and Bobbie Leigh, and my daughter Lauren comes to visit. I have a programme with 600 kids and 27 teams. My wife has a dance studio with 700 kids. Things are going really well financially, and the way of life here is great for a family. The weather is fantastic and we live by the ocean on a golf course. We had worked hard to get where we are – I’m a believer that you get out of this life what you put in. We are never complacent and we are honourable with the staff that we employ and we get on alright with them. The values I was taught as a kid are still the values I have now.
    “I’d love to get to the stage when I can semi-retire and enjoy life without worrying about the financial implications. Too many people I know have got to retirement age and have never had the chance to enjoy it because they’ve died a year later. I want to enjoy my kids and do a bit of travelling.
    He still keeps in touch with friends in Manchester too. “I still see the likes of Robbo, Big Norman and Arthur when I am back in Manchester. Kevin Moran’s son came out here last year and stayed with us. Most footballers tend to move on, it’s the nature of the beast that you are nomadic and are always moving on and building new relationships with people. You are friends, but at the back of your mind you know that you are colleagues too.
    And life by the ocean gives him time to reflect on his time at United. “I still look back at every moment in my time at United. I have some good memories and some not so good ones. Because I was a Salford lad, it was so much more for me to play for United. It was a worldly experience where I went from playing on the streets to travelling the world. It brought me fame in my own little world where I signed autographs and posed for photos on the streets. It was a great life and the most significant thing for was that without my time at Man United, my reputation here would just be the same as everybody else’s. The knock-on effect of being a former United player is always there. I want my kids to know that their dad played for the biggest club in the world as they get older. I’ve tried to get my eldest son into football and I’ve bought him some factual books on football hoping that he’ll get the same pleasure out of it that I did. My books are still at my dad’s in Ordsall. My room is almost untouched from when I left the house when I was 15. It’s like a little shrine to Manchester United.”
    And when Billy Garton used to sit in his shrine, reading his books, how could he have possibly foreseen what lay ahead? It was never easy for Billy, but then nobody said it would be.

    To see the author's books on Amazon click here.