This heartwarming domestic snippet is from the Manchester City v Newcastle programme of November 23, 1985. The game finished 1-0 to City in front of 25,179 and Lillis scored the goal.
Didsbury-born Lillis played for City as a schoolboy but failed to be offered apprentice terms, instead starting his professional career at Huddersfield. There he scored 56 times in 206 appearances before City bought him for £130,000 in August 1985. This was his only season at Maine Road, in which he finished top scorer (on 12) for a distinctly average City side.
And so to the kitchen. Mark, seen here posing comfortably in a pinny and a borrowed chef’s hat while stirring an empty pot in front of his New World Sierra De Luxe, liked to cook. At school the options were Home Economics, metalwork or woodwork, and he was ‘hopeless’ at metalwork and woodwork. His teacher, Mrs Brown, wanted him to take his talent further, but football intervened.
His preference was for cooking curry – so much so, he tells us, that at Huddersfield he was known as ‘Bhuna’. Sunday night was curry night chez Lillis; his favourite curry was ‘chicken’, and his wife Jean was in charge of buying the ingredients as “she knows what I need”.
Jean it was who cooked a ‘special’ curry for their friend Kevin Stonehouse, the Blackpool striker (misrepresented here as Keith); Kevin liked it hot, and found Mark’s curries a tad weedy. So Mrs Lillis chucked in the chillies, Kevin professed it excellent, spent Monday morning locked in the toilet and “still thinks it was down to me.” Probably a mistake putting that anecdote in print, then….