Tuesday, 31 December 2013 11:14

RIP Paul Comstive

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Paul Comstive314Wrexham Football Club were saddened to hear of the passing away of former midfielder Paul Comstive on Sunday 29th December following a suspected heart attack. He was only 52.

Paul had joined Wrexham from Wigan Athletic in November 1984 when then manager Bobby Roberts splashed out £3,000 for the midfield-cum-defender. Although born and bred in Southport Paul was snapped up as a schoolboy by Plymouth Argyle, but nothing came of his time at Home Park, and he went for trials nearer home with Blackpool and Blackburn Rovers. 'Rovers' gave him a chance in the professional ranks, as by this time he was too old for an apprenticeship, and in October 1979 he signed a professional contract.

Paul went on to make his Football League debut with the Ewood Park club a year later, at Hillsborough against Sheffield Wednesday. However, he was to make just five more first team appearances for 'Rovers' before joining Rochdale on loan in September 1982. Nine league games and two goals later he returned to Blackburn, as Rochdale could not afford the fee to sign him, but at the end of the 1982/83 season he found himself released by 'Rovers'.

Wigan Athletic quickly stepped in to sign the promising youngster in August, and his stay at Springfield Park was to last just over twelve months, in which he notched up 35 League appearances, scoring twice. He was allowed to join Wrexham in November 1984, and made his debut at left-back at home to Southend in a 2-1 defeat, scoring Wrexham's consolation goal.

Paul became a regular in the team, and helped 'The Robins' to steer clear of the re-election zone that season. Half way through the following season manager Dixie McNeil moved Paul into midfield from where he helped Wrexham to lift the Welsh Cup for the first time since 1978 with a Final win over Kidderminster Harriers.

The 1986/87 season, saw him participate in all four European Cup-Winners' Cup matches for Wrexham against F.C.Zurrieq and Real Zaragoza, and establish himself as a crowd favourite.

Despite Paul's robust style of play and good physical attributes of height and strength endeared him to the Wrexham fans, he turned down a new contract offered to him in the close season by manager, Dixie McNeil, and joined Burnley, along with goalkeeper Chris Pearce. The £8,000 fee for Paul was fixed by a transfer tribunal, which was a big disappointment to Wrexham, who considered him a much more valuable asset.

At Turf Moor Paul went straight into the Burnley first team, missing just two matches all season, as both players went on to contribute to the beginning of the renaissance at Turf Moor. Paul scored in a 3-0 League Cup over the 'Robins' at Turf Moor, and also scored the winning goal against Preston that took the 'Clarets' to Wembley for the Sherpa Van Trophy final in 1988. The following season saw him continue in the Burnley midfield, as they finished in a disappointing 16th place.

The start of the 1989/90 season saw start the season off in the reserves, and in September he was to leave Turf Moor when Bolton Wanderers obtained his services for £37,000 after making 82 league appearances and scoring 17 goals for the 'Clarets'. Paul was to spend just over two years at Burnden Park, during which time he scored twice direct from a corner in a game against Bournemouth on New Year's Day 1991. He made over fifty appearances for Bolton before joining Chester City for £10,000 in November 1991.

In his first season with 'City' Comstive went on to miss just one match as they survived relegation by five points. He scored in the first ever Football League match at the Deva Stadium between Chester and Burnley on 5th September 1992 as he returned that season to playing left-back, but that season ended in disappointment as Chester were relegated. Paul was released by Chester that summer, and joined his hometown team of Southport, who were playing in the GM Conference at the time.

Born on 25th November 1961 in Southport, Paul was to spend two seasons with the 'Sandgrounders' making 52 league appearances for Southport, scoring 11 times before joining another GM Conference side, Morecambe, in the close season of 1995. Paul played for most of the season with 'The Shrimpers', but joined Chorley just before the transfer deadline in March 1996.

In November 1999, he was appointed assistant-manager at Southport to caretaker manager Paul Lodge following Paul Futcher's dismissal as manager, but that position was to last just a month as the former Liverpool player Mark Wright was appointed as the 'Sandgrounders' new manager in December.

Paul was then to take charge and play for local amateur side Fleetwood Hesketh Bank FC, who played in the West Lancashire League, where was assisted by his good friends Alan Francis and Dave Massam. He was still first team coach at the club, as well as helping Dave Massam a lot since June at Southport's Haig Avenue ground with their pitch preparation work.

A proud member of the Wrexham FC Former Players Association, Paul played in the same team as Chairman Nick Hencher, and was also manager by Wrexham FC Club President Dixie McNeil. He resided in Southport, where he was employed for the Royal Mail as a Delivery Officer.

The thoughts of everyone connected with Wrexham FC are with Paul's wife Gill and two daughters Lauren and Eilish and all his family and friends at this sad time.