Biography...Full name: Michael Alan Wilding
Few people will remember that young Mike Wilding was actually Colin Pratt's first signing for Cradley, when he took over the team manager's job during the winter of 1983/84. Though relatively inexperienced, Mike was thrown in at the number two berth due to a long Cradley tail after the dismantling of the 1983 'dream team'.
Even fewer will remember that it was part of a loan/exchange deal that brought Mike to the Wood with Jan O.Pedersen moving in the other direction. Of course, JanO never turned out for the Brummies as they were forced to pull out of the league on the eve of the season, but Wilding's position was secure with the Heathens. It was an incredibly tough baptism though, and it was made even worse by an injury in April which kept him out for three weeks. This sparked much swapping and changing at the weak bottom end of the team with appearances by Wilding, Steve Collins, Simon Cross and Bill Barrett. Mike regained his team place after the injury though and dropped to reserve in place of Collins.
In August of that season, the change was reversed and the new averages saw Collins recalled from his loan spell at Arena Essex, with Wilding this time giving way. By September, the inevitable happened and Mike's photo was replaced on the programme front cover, by that of deputising number eight, Bill Barratt! It was a premature end to his Cradley career after one of the most difficult debut seasons an upcoming teenager could have imagined.