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Where are they now: Paul Moulden

4 April 2013

One of the most unlikely people you would expect to see behind a counter handing you a portion of fish and chips is an ex-professional footballer.

After all, they would have been encouraged to avoid any fast food completely when they were strutting their stuff on the pitch on a weekly basis during their playing days.

In Bolton though, former Manchester City, Birmingham City and Oldham Athletic striker Paul Moulden is now making a living from tasty takeaways.

The one-time Football League hitman hung up his boots in 1999 and launched his own fish and chip shop, where he continues to work and regale tales of a career that embraced seven clubs and plenty of goals.

"I get people who come in [to the shop] and like to chat about the football days, so there's plenty of banter," Moulden explained.

"I'm known around here [Bolton] because I've played for a few local clubs, particularly Oldham, who were on fire when I was there.

"Some people who come in as a one-off might recognise me by accident and there are others who know I'm here. Those who know me better also know I have three lads now playing, so they might ask me how they're getting on, too."

It's not just his footballing exploits of yesteryear that stand him in good stead when chatting to his customers, however.

As well as his own 15 years in the business, his parents also ran a fish and chip shop, and Moulden has built as strong a reputation behind the counter as he had on the pitch.

"We keep it simple and because we've been doing it for so long you'd like to think we've perfected the art of it by now.

"Funnily enough, I had someone in recently saying how nice our food was. Another customer, who I know well, replied, 'I should think so too,' but only because she knows how long we've been here.

"Business is up and down, though. I'd say we've probably been hit a little bit by the recession, like everyone has, but this is life outside football and you just have to get on with it."

And get on with it he does. Although one thing is for sure, serving tasty food is no replacement for the highs and lows of playing competitive football for the now 45-year-old.

Like many footballers contemplating retirement, he admits adapting to life without daily training and matches at the weekend was a shock to the system.

"The back-end of my career didn't go as well as the first half and so at the time I was looking forward to taking on new challenges outside of football.

"But keeping in shape is what I miss most, although I will say that's not a result of eating my own fish and chips. I've had a couple of new hips as a result of football and they've taken their toll on my ability to stay active.

"When I packed in playing football I panicked a little bit about knowing what to do next. Life is very comfortable as a footballer. I had chances to go and play in Australia but at the time my wife and I found out she was pregnant, so I had to turn that down.

"It's amazing how quickly the game moves on and leaves you behind. You bump into people now and again but it's not the same, which is a real shame.

"I think there seems to be more support for footballers when they finish now but there was nothing when I stopped. I remember the first couple of pre-seasons after I stopped playing, I was numb. You're in the big bad world for the first time and not entirely sure what to do with yourself or how to deal with it.

"I also remember the first two years after football and in particular how I'd feel at 3pm on a Saturday. I was no fun to be around because I missed it so much. Now I go and watch my kids on a Saturday and Sunday, which I really enjoy.

"I think footballers need support when their careers come to an end, but some people simply won't understand that concept. I think depression is a big thing for former footballers."

Since departing The Football League in 1996 when he called time on a spell with Rochdale, Moulden's chip shop has certainly kept him busy.

And, despite his struggles, he often finds himself reflecting fondly on his career - one that took him from Manchester City to Bournemouth, back up north to Oldham, onto a short spell with Brighton and Hove Albion, then a couple of years with Birmingham City, before brief stints with Huddersfield Town and the Dale.

"I look back on it with fond memories from start to finish. I wouldn't change anything about it.

"As a junior I had a superb goalscoring record for Bolton Lads' club, I scored 289 goals in one season. The thing with that team was that we had England Schoolboys like Julian Derby and Ian Scott, both who played for Bolton at the same time. We had a tremendous side.

"That form continued though Manchester City schoolboys until Oldham really, albeit not at the same rate. At Oldham I was in and out of the side and it's harder to maintain consistency. I played with some good players at City, including Darren Beckford.

"Moving to Bournemouth was a huge move for me. At the time I was single and it was exciting, but the novelty soon wore off and I found it hard to settle. It was a lovely club but I was delighted to return home and back to Oldham.

"I loved all the clubs I played for, but mostly I enjoyed my time with both Birmingham City and Manchester City. They were very big clubs with good people behind the scenes. I loved working with and for those people at those clubs."

Retired footballers often struggle to find their way once their careers have come to an end, but Moulden has built up a respectable business, earning himself a comfortable living.

And he now gets his football fix from watching his children on the pitch - potentially a new generation of Moulden players to further enhance the name in the local area.

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