Martin Smith column: Good strikers will always find their way to goal

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Star writer Chris Holt wrote yesterday of Sheffield Wednesday’s need for a ‘bustling and aggressive striker willing to wreak havoc and find a pocket of space’. Some things never change.

It was almost exactly 65 years ago in that other, post-war world that such an individual first announced himself.

The footballing life-force that was Derek Dooley had arrived. The 6ft 3ins, red-haired bundle of pace and power in size 12 boots made his League debut for Sheffield Wednesday in March 1950, at home to Preston.

Dooley was before my time but those that saw him say bustling and aggressive - with a pinch of roughhouse devilment - were exactly him.

Dooley went on to score 61 goals in 62 appearances for the Owls before tragedy struck and doctors had to amputate his leg when gangrene set in after a double fracture at Preston in February 1953.

A turn of events so cruel and vivid that Dooley’s name and tragic story are still known around the world today.

But Dooley was not an instant hit. His National Service with the RAF - a two-year compulsory spell in the armed forces for all young men in those days - and his rawness as a player, limited his appearances.

Wednesday had to be patient with him.

Would they be so patient today?

Back then there was no talk of nationality quotas or people like FA Chairman Greg Dyke worrying that English players were being held back by overseas imports.

There weren’t any.

But they weren’t England’s ‘good old days’ either.

Later in that year 1950 England lost 1-0 to the USA’s part-timers in the World Cup and a 6-3 Wembley humbling by Hungary was only three years away.

Today the Owls are hoping Romanian Sergio Bus can bring the goals they need to sustain a promotion challenge next season and it would be grossly unfair to compare him to a Sheffield legend like Dooley, the likes of whom will never be seen again.

But it is also unfair to assume that every import is costing a young British player his future.

When did competition for places become a bad thing?

At the very top there is an issue with world stars being attracted to the glory and cash of the Premier League but football is always short of bustling and aggressive strikers at every level.

Whether they come from Burngreave or Bucharest is largely immaterial.