Mick Leonard was plucked out of the Isthmian League as a teenager by Halifax Town, and had only just turned twenty when Notts County paid £30,00 for his signature in September 1979. In ten seasons at Meadow Lane, Mick made 204 appearances for The Magpies, his last being against Chesterfield in 1988-9.
County lost that 3-0 and manager Neil Warnock grew more incandescent with rage as the match wore on. Some thought that, to spite Chesterfield, he signed Plymouth’s Steve Cherry, who was on loan to The Spireites at the time. Whatever Neil’s motives, his transfer activity meant that Mick was surplus to requirements at Meadow Lane, and Chesterfield stepped in.
Mick was a brave and agile 'keeper, although critics might point to his effectiveness being reduced by an unwillingness to leave his line to deal confidently with crosses. He joined the Spireites as morale was turning for the better following the disastrous start to '88-9, and was a more than adequate replacement for the County-bound Steve Cherry. A notable shot-stopper, he was someone whose play seemed to improve under opposition pressure, and he put in a number of fine displays as the Spireites made it to the play-offs in '89-90. Indeed, Mick's penalty save against Exeter that left the Spireites 2-1 winners in March, 1990, is often remembered as a turning-point.
The following season, form deserted him somewhat, and Mike Allison came in to perform reasonably well as Mick was loaned out to Halifax, following an alleged fall-out with Paul Hart. Allison did okay, but he was preferred for far too long over Mick who, incredibly, made one of his three appearances for the Shaymen against Chesterfield! Paul Hart's dismissal paved the way for Mick’s return to Saltergate, and he continued as the club's first-choice 'keeper until struck down by injury at York in December 1992. Upon returning to fitness he and Chris Marples contested the number 1 jersey until Mick left the club in the summer of 1994, upon the expiry of his contract.
Mick subsequently went to Hong Kong to play and coach. He has since coached in New Zealand and Dubai, as well as at Nottingham Forest, ironically under the management of Paul Hart. Mick currently serves as head of youth at Notts County.
For Chesterfield: 175+1 Football League appearances
(55 clean sheets / 224 goals conceded.)
Milestone corner: Mick was the first Chesterfield keeper to come on as a substitute, replacing Chris Marples against Shrewsbury on New Year’s Day, 1994.)