One of Manx football’s most outspoken characters has released a book about his time in the island game. 

Rick Holden has penned the 204-page ‘Worms and Spaceships’ chronicling his 28 years in the Isle of Man. 

The former Oldham and Man City man, who clocked up more than 70 Premier League appearances during his playing career, first moved to Peel in the mid-1990s after retiring from the professional game with Blackpool. 

Having helped the westerners win Division Two in 1997, Holden took over the managerial reigns at the Sunset City side two years later, culminating in three top-flight titles and Railway Cup success. 

Holden’s two spells at Peel, plus stints coaching at St John’s, Ayre United and the Isle of Man FA’s men’s representative side are all covered in the book, including the latter’s Island Games gold medal success in 2017. 

The 59 year old explained that the unique title came from one of his early training sessions with the Sunset City side. He said: ‘When I first came to Peel in 1996 I introduced some stuff I'd done in pro football.  

‘Now they like to call it rondo now, which is similar to piggy in the middle. I introduced this and the lads were freaking out like the lads at Halifax Town did when I tried it there in 1985.  

‘They were bamboozled and worried about their first touch and they were not showing enough composure.  

‘I said “Look, lads, what's wrong with you? You know everything that's going to happen on a football pitch, you've seen before - you can anticipate it.  

“There isn’t going to be a giant worm that comes out of the ground and gets you, or a spaceship that’s going to land on top of you and zap you up!” 

‘They all fell about laughing and after that they all called the drill “worms and spaceships”.’  

Holden revealed why he decided to pen the book: ‘Manx football has been a massive part of my life, and I thought now is the time to let everyone know what went on in the past.  

‘It is not so much setting the record straight, but a lot of people outside football don't know what went on. It covers the successes, the ups, the downs, and the personalities.  

‘I’ve revisited games and anecdotes and thought “why did I do that?”, while most of the time thinking “why didn't I do that?”’ 

Rick says the Manx game has changed during his time in the Isle of Man. 

‘It's started to mirror what's going on in the Premier Division in England, with teams throwing it out at the back. And this is at all levels.  

 ‘It's dangerous to do that. It's bad enough a team closing you down but if you're going to contribute to that by not being skilful enough to do it, you're asking for trouble.  

‘But I will say that the best players now would be every bit as good as the players in the past that I was involved with, the difference being the game's changed where you can’t touch anyone, meaning it’s not as blood and thunder. 

Rick Holden with former St John’s youngster Isaac Allen who has since signed for Lincoln City’s academy

‘The league itself is watered down obviously because of FC Isle of Man taking largely the best out of the league. 

‘Society has also changed and players don’t have the commitment to training etc that they once did. They’ve got loads more going on and perhaps football isn’t the priority it once was.’ 

The chapter detailing his recent time with Nick Hurt at Ayre United is titled the ‘Last Dance’, but Holden hasn’t ruled out a return to the Manx touchlines in the future. 

Rick, who runs a a sports science and injury rehabilitation clinic in Peel, has been conducting individual coaching sessions with various players, including former St John’s youngster Isaac Allen, who in 2022 signed professional terms with Lincoln City. 

Rick added: ‘The individual coaching is important to me because, but I have coached a lot of teams just as one-offs.  

‘I’ve worked with Malew, Michael, Foxdale, Colby and St Mary's and it has all been, you know, well received. 

‘I hope to be involved with Peel in the future in some sort of consultancy role, helping whoever is there if they need me. 

‘I can also help on the medical side of things, because clubs are still way behind on that. 

‘The passion will always be there for football.’ 

Aside from football, Holden dedicates chapters to island life in general, his adopted home of Peel and local politics. 

Holden, who has degrees in Human Movement, Physiotherapy and a Masters degree in Football Science and Rehabilitation, has now written and published 10 books with his Wibble Publishing firm and he admits he’s now nearly as passionate about writing as he is about football.

’The first book I did was my autobiography. That came out in 2010, but myself and the other guy that helped with it weren’t overly impressed with the machination of it so we decided to start publishing our own stuff.

‘We’ve done lots of books for local authors and I’ve written several books from football, to cricket to medicine. I find writing cathartic.’ ‘Worms and Spaceships - My Time in Manx Football’ is priced at £12, is available from Mitchell’s and Gales Fayre newsagents in Peel and Rick himself by emailing [email protected]

It is also now available in the shops of the Manx Museum in Douglas and House of Manannan in Peel.