‘From Mine to Milan’ – The Gerry Hitchens Story written by Simon Goodyear and published by The Breedon Publishing Company 2010.
I found this book in a charity shop in Bridgnorth in the heart of the area where Gerry grew up and made his first steps in senior football with Kidderminster Harriers in 1953 after initially playing for the local village team.
The book is sympathetically written by Simon Goodyear who along with his Dad were lifelong Aston Villa fans. The book is a tribute to Gerry and his character shines through. He was a hard working, likeable, committed, unassuming, team player who was talented too and often found the back of the net.
His progress in football would be unusual today in that there was no academy development but an initial mining career and a progression through local to English League, Italian and International teams. Like John Charles he was a trailblazer for British players to go overseas to further their career which have not been a success for many, it is all too common for players from overseas to come to England and develop and delight our game.
Gerry played for Kidderminster Harriers, Cardiff City, Aston Villa, Inter Milan, Torino, Atlanta (Bergamo), Cagliari, Worcester City and Merthyr Tydfil before retiring in 1972.
His most successful time was at Villa where he scored 96 goals in four seasons, 42 in his last season. Of his 7 games for England he scored five goals.
The book shows the depth of good feeling to Gerry through quotes by fans and fellow professionals, Jimmy Greaves, Jimmy Armfield, Bobby Charlton and many more.
The book is very well written in that it gives you a real sense of how Gerry coped with moving to new clubs and cultures as well as being able to keep and enjoy a family life.
His death in 1983 on a football pitch cut short a magnificent life.