'He apologised for not wearing a suit!' - England manager Gareth Southgate meets Sheffield's heroes of grassroots football

England manager Gareth Southgate with Sheffield grassroots heroes Sheila Allsebrook, Anne Holland, Robin Benyon and Brian Gould. Photo: Chris Etchells
England manager Gareth Southgate with Sheffield grassroots heroes Sheila Allsebrook, Anne Holland, Robin Benyon and Brian Gould. Photo: Chris Etchells
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England football manager Gareth Southgate was in Sheffield to meet some of the city’s most dedicated heroes of our grassroots game.

Mr Southgate met the four finalists of who have spent decades developing the game in Sheffield.

The England chief takes time out to chat to the four finalists. Photo: Chris Etchells

The England chief takes time out to chat to the four finalists. Photo: Chris Etchells

The FA has worked with Sheffield footballing experts to draw up a shortlist of the city’s grassroots heroes, who have been giving back to the development of the game for a number of years.

One of these selfless volunteers is Anne Holland.

The 68 -year-old is the U21s club secretary at Hallam FC. She has taken on everything at the club from cooking, cleaning kits to arranging raffles. She started out helping to tidy up after the matches aged eight when her grandad and dad took her to games.

Anne, who was born just yards up the road from the Sandygate ground has dedicated over 60 years to Hallam FC.

England manager Gareth Southgate with Sheffield grassroots heroes Sheila Allsebrook, Anne Holland, Robin Benyon and Brian Gould. Photo: Chris Etchells

England manager Gareth Southgate with Sheffield grassroots heroes Sheila Allsebrook, Anne Holland, Robin Benyon and Brian Gould. Photo: Chris Etchells

On meeting the England chief, she said: “He was so down to earth, he took time out to chat to us and he was amazed at our stories of what the four of us have done.

“He turned up in his England tracksuit which we didn't think anything of but he apologised for not wearing a suit!”

On her nomination, Anne said: “It’s a weird feeling, I just do a job and I enjoy it.

“The club is a massive part of my life and I love what I do. Saturday is football day and it’s all about Hallam FC.”

Southgate was at the new St George's FA hub in Norton. Photo: Chris Etchells

Southgate was at the new St George's FA hub in Norton. Photo: Chris Etchells

The other finalists are Robin Beynon, director of Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA and the founder, Meadowhall Sheffield & District Sunday League.

Robin has seen football in Sheffield develop from its simple roots to one of the biggest organised structures in Europe.

He has also led the way in innovating and expanding the Sheffield's footballing system, with all of this taking place over the course of the last 60 plus years.

Remarkably, he has also found time to serve as a Sheffield & Hallamshire CCC umpire for more than 40 years as well.

Southgate was at the new St George's FA hub in Norton. Photo: Chris Etchells

Southgate was at the new St George's FA hub in Norton. Photo: Chris Etchells

Brian Gould, vice president of the Sheffield & District Sunday League. For over 60 years, Brian has been facilitating the growth and development of grassroots football in and around Sheffield. Be it starting clubs, managing teams or even acting as chairman for the whole league, Gould has seen it all, from all angles.

His commitments now stretch beyond the youth game with him serving as secretary for the Sheffield A & Hallamshire Senior League as well. His long and distinguished career comes to and end with the close of the 2016/17 season.

Sheila Allsebrook is the registrar, Sheffield & District Junior Sunday League.

Her entry in to football was humble, after taking up a role within the Abbey Lane Juniors that her son was playing for, she helped out around the club and, eventually becoming team secretary for his age group.

After rising up through the age groups with the same team, Sheila eventually took up a role for the wider league as registrar and then league secretary.

After initially standing down from her position, the footballing community and camaraderie of her peers was too much to step away from and Sheila is now back at the Sheffield & District Junior Sunday League as Registrar to over 1000 teams.