Mike Balson

One of Our Own | Exhibition Images

There are many distinct honours professional footballers look to achieve over their careers. Whether that be player of the season awards, league titles or cup wins, players strive to accomplish as many as possible. They don’t usually aim for winning awards for producing quality American sausages but then, Mike Balson didn’t have the most usual of careers. Born in Bridport, Mike signed professional terms at City in 1965, making his debut as a centre-forward two years later in a 2-2 draw at Bradford Park Avenue. His strong, towering frame was utilised at both striker and centre-back and Mike played regularly in both positions in over 300 appearances for City. Aged 27, Mike was surprisingly released in 1974 as he had the opportunity to move South Africa, joining Johannesburg side Highlands Park FC. He remained there for a number of years before making another international move, this time to American side Atlanta Chiefs. It was in the USA that Mike settled down and after finishing his playing career at Indoor Soccer League side Tampa Bay Rowdies, Mike qualified as a referee, taking charge of high-level College matches across the States. While doing that, Mike also began producing English sausages for wholesale, after the Butcher’s son was upset about the quality of available in the US. Along with his sons, Mike built up a business empire producing hundreds of thousands of kilograms of sausages each year. The former City centurion was honoured by various food authorities before he sadly passed away in 2019, aged 71.