ONE of East Lancashire’s football heroes now works behind the tills at Tesco!

And former Blackburn Rovers’ player Jim Branagan said he is earning more per week working for the supermarket than he did with the club in the Eighties.

The 57-year-old retired from the game in 1989 and he now works at Tesco in Pendleton, Manchester.

He said: “Our wages were different back then and you didn’t leave football with enough cash to retire. For me, there is no bitterness towards today’s players who are being paid £200,000 per week. If someone is willing to pay them that amount then good luck to them.”

Jim started playing professional football when he was 18 and his salary at Ewood Park was under £20,000 in 1980.

Before the era of mega-wages, most East Lancashire footballers went on to join a working-class trade once their playing days were over.

Willie Irvine, who played for Burnley in the early Sixties, said he also went on to earn more money than the £60-a-week that he was paid at Turf Moor. When the 69-year-old’s career ended he opened a DIY store in Burnley.

He said: “The wages in my day weren’t brilliant. You came out of the game without any savings. Today players don’t have to worry one little bit. But I don’t be-grudge them one bit - I would say take it! They deserve every penny.”

Former Burnley and England legend John Connelly went on to open a chippy in Brierfield after the game. He was there for 31 years.

Describing his years at Blackburn Rovers as the ‘best of his life,’ Jim knew football was a short career and later went on to work selling life insurance.

With help from the Professional Football Association the grandad-of-one was able to get the qualifications that he needed for a new career.

He worked in insurance for 23 years and was made redundant 18 months ago. He joined Tesco earlier this month.

He said: “Without a doubt the PFA have been great, they helped me with the qualifications and I paid into a pension, they are there to help.”

Jim works three days a week, giving him plenty of time to spend with his grandson Isaac.

More former stars and their new careers

  • Jimmy McIlroy: sports journalist
  • John Angus: Prison warder
  • Peter Noble: Sportswear stall holder
  • Colin Waldron: Bookmaker
  • Derek Scott: Traffic policeman
  • Leighton James: Car salesman, lollipop man
  • Jim Thompson: Brewery rep
  • Marshall Burke: Brewery rep
  • Michael Finn: Brewery rep
  • Joe Gallagher: Pub landlord, factory worker
  • Willie Morgan: Marketing and promotions
  • John Connelly (left): Fish and chip shop owner
  • Freddie Smith: Milkman
  • Doug Collins: McDonald’s franchise in Australia
  • Lenny Johnrose: Teacher