Norman 'Bites Yer Legs' Hunter reunited with old football boots
TIMES have changed but the boots have stayed the same for Bristol City fan Steve Smith and football legend Norman Hunter.
More than 33 years ago, baby-faced teenager Mr Smith was given the last pair of boots the defender – known as "Bites Yer Legs" for his tough tackling – ever wore at Ashton Gate.
Since then, the size 8.5 Adidas Beckenbauers have taken pride of place in his memorabilia collection.
And when Mr Hunter came to Ashton Gate for the official opening of Harry's Blackthorn Bar recently, Mr Smith had the chance to have his picture taken with the former England international again.
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Mr Smith, now 49, explained: "It was May 1979 and he had a sports shop called Norman Hunter Sports in Whitchurch.
"My dad Keith had done pencil sketches of all of the City players at the time and he wanted Norman to sign the sketch of him.
"So, we went in and showed him and he was so impressed he asked to look through dad's sketchbook.
"Norman then asked dad if he could do a sketch of the Suspension Bridge for him.
"My dad did the sketch, framed it for him and when we took it in for Norman he asked 'how much do you want for it?'
"Dad never wanted money for any of his sketches – he usually asked for a favour or something like that – so he said 'something you've worn, or an old pair of boots'?
"After Norman's last home game for City against his old club Leeds, he gave me a brown paper bag and there they were – his boots which he'd signed on the bottom.
"He was one of my heroes. When I went into the shop to meet him in the first place I was nervous, so to be given something like that was fantastic. I couldn't believe it."
Mr Smith has built up a vast collection of memorabilia over the years, but the boots are still one of his favourite possessions.
The dad-of-two, who lives in Whitchurch, said: "They're very special because it's not something I've bought – they're something personal given to me.
"I've hardly touched them in all these years – they've still got grains of sand in them from the football pitch.
"I tried the right boot on – I'm size eight so it fit me – but the last person to wear the left boot was Norman Hunter against Leeds all those years ago."
For 13 years, Mr Smith used to write a nostalgia column for the Post's Green 'Un sports supplement.
He met Mr Hunter in 2004 and asked the player to sign his red 1966 World Cup shirt, which Mr Smith had bought. But this year was the first time Mr Hunter had been reunited with his old boots – aptly also after a match between the Robins and Leeds United.
"I only met him briefly but he remembered who I was straight away, which was really nice," Mr Smith said. "He looked at the aluminium studs on the boots and couldn't believe how long they were. I told him the pitch used to be pretty heavy in those days."
Mr Hunter, now 68, played three seasons with Bristol City from 1976 to 1979, making 108 appearances and scoring four goals.