It’s time for a bit of forward thinking

Billy Dearden
Billy Dearden
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HOW many goals would Derek Dooley have scored for Wednesday if his career had not ended so tragically and prematurely?

STANDING only five feet eight inches tall and just 12 stone in weight, he can hardly be described as an old fashioned English centre-forward.

David Layne, former Sheffield Wednesday footballer

David Layne, former Sheffield Wednesday footballer

In fact, the first footballer in the latest poll to decide Sheffield United’s greatest post-war 11 enjoyed a reputation as being a ‘fox in the box’ rather than a battering ram with which to crack apart defences.

But Derek Pace, or Doc as he is affectionately remembered by folk on the red and white half of the Steel City divide, certainly possessed a ruthless side to his character.

So, purely because of the bumps and bruises he inflicted upon opponents, the former Army Medical Corp conscript - which accounts for his nickname - features in this penultimate golden quartet of players.

United manager Joe Mercer landed Pace at the second time of asking.

Mark Bright, Sheffield Wednesday

Mark Bright, Sheffield Wednesday

Impressed by the little inside forward, he spent £12,000 persuading Aston Villa to part company with the former Walsall schoolboy star in 1957.

And, having asked him to plough a furrow through the middle, he was rewarded with a gush of goals including a debut effort against Blackburn.

Pace helped United regain First Division status in 1961 and also reach the FA Cup semi-final.

At the fourth-round stage of the competition in 1958, he also found the back of the net as Spurs were brushed aside 3-0 in front of more than 51,000 spectators at Bramall Lane.

Bob Hatton - Sheffield United Player.

Bob Hatton - Sheffield United Player.

His final match for United came against Burnley in 1964 and when Pace left for Notts County he did so having scored 175 times in 302 league and cup appearances.

But what is a targetman?

And are those who claim to be one simply crude bullies who, because they boast rudimentary skills, are handed the opportunity to bludgeon centre-halves into submission?

The answer, of course, is ‘no’.

Derek Pace.

Derek Pace.

Which accounts for some controversial omissions and inclusions in this list and at least one surprising pick in next week’s too.

Certainly Brian Deane, despite his strapping frame, does not regard himself as a one-dimensional forward.

Indeed, one of the former Doncaster Rovers, Leeds and Benfica striker’s teammates jokes how the 43-year-old still describes himself as a “subtle, tricky winger” because of his tendency to find space on the flanks.

That might be stretching the truth somewhat.

But Deane did never did go out of his way to seek confrontation.

Indeed, those who witnessed his three spells with United will testify that, more often than not, he adopted a more cerebral approach to the art of goal-poaching.

DEREK DOOLEY 2

DEREK DOOLEY 2

It’s a theory which is also supported by the fact he won three England caps, the last of which came during a meeting with Spain in Santander nearly two decades ago.

Deane, a £40,000 signing from neighbours Doncaster Rovers in 1988, wasted little time rising to prominence.

Together with Tony Agana, he netted a hat-trick during a thrashing of Chester City and later, in 1992, was responsible for the first ever goal in the Premier League too, a fifth-minute opener against United’s namesakes from Manchester.

A move to Elland Road followed but he re-joined United in 1997 before completing a shock move to Benfica.

Having also represented clubs such as Leicester, West Ham and Sunderland, he hung up his boots after making three more appearances for United with a career record which reads 654 league appearances/195 goals.

Neil Shipperley, who helped United reach the top-flight in 2006, can count himself desperately unfortunate to miss out.

Regarded as a busted flush when he arrived in South Yorkshire following spells at Barnsley and Crystal Palace, he bore little resemblance to the lean, mean scoring machine who first burst on to the scene as a teenager with Chelsea.

But a combination of tenacity and nous enabled ‘HMS Shipp’ to emerge as one of the pivotal figures in a team which, together with Reading, proved too hot for the rest of the Championship to handle.

Instead, Shipperley’s place goes to Billy Dearden who recently returned to United as part of new manager Danny Wilson’s backroom staff.

He has been handed the role of chief scout and if he demonstrates the same success when it comes to identifying talent as he did in the penalty box during a seven-year stint at Bramall Lane then supporters should be bracing themselves for an exciting, profitable campaign.

Certainly a forward capable of netting 61 times in 175 league appearances would be most welcome at present.

The final nominee is Bob Hatton.

A fitting pick given the relish with which he set about destroying visitors to Bramall Lane.

Having started his career with Wath, his potential was quickly spotted by a more famous group of Wanderers - Wolverhampton - in 1963.

Transfers to Bolton, Northampton, Carlisle, Birmingham and Blackpool followed before he pitched up at United in 1980.

Hatton departed for Cardiff two years later having hit the target 34 times in league competition - a fine return from only 95 games.

But, given the fact that he scored at a rate better than once every three outings throughout his time as a professional, it’s hardly surprising.

TO VOTE FOR BLADES ...

To vote for your favourite player simply simply email us at promotions@sheffieldnewspapers.co.uk with the subject as Best Team Ever Blades, stating your name, address, telephone number and the number of the player you are voting for. Alternatively you can text us your vote by texting STA (space) BLADES (space) followed by the number of the player you are voting for and sending to 61500.

Deadline for entries is Sunday, August 7 2011 at 10am.

Usual SNL rules apply, full terms and conditions available on request by contacting Star promotions, York Street, Sheffield, S1 1PU or alternatively go online at www.johnstonpress.co.uk/jpplc/competition

Texts cost 50p plus your usual network rate. The Editor’s decision is final. By supplying your telephone number you’re happy to receive SMS messages from Johnston Press and its approved business partners. Johnston Press (or via its agents) and its business partners may contact you about new promotions, products and services. Please add the word EXIT at the end of your message if you do not wish to receive these. Please note if you should enter after the stated closing date your entry will not be valid but you still may be charged. For quality and training purposes we may monitor communications. SMS service is provided by Velti DR Ltd SE1 8ND - 020 7633 5000.

HOW many goals would Derek Dooley have scored for Wednesday if his career had not ended so tragically and prematurely?

Sixty-three goals in 63 matches is some record.

Forty-seven of those came in only 31 games during the 1951-52 season after he broke into the side.

Never can a player have played so few games for the club yet have been remembered as an all-time great or regarded with such unviversal fondnees.

Dooley’s is an extraordinary story: The local boy who became a Hillsborough idol, lost a leg after breaking it in a match at Preston and went on to command affection among all Sheffield football fans and hold positions of authority at Wednesday and United.

He was tall, quick, strong, brave, a lethal finisher and the scourge of defences in the old Second Division.

What is perhaps less generally known is that after Wednesday won promotion as champions in 1952 he was dropped early in the following season as it was felt he had made less of an impact in the First Division.

But he was back after missing only one match and hit 16 goals in 25 league games as the Owls settled into the top flight.

His injury was caused in a 50-50 clash with the Preston goalkeeper at Deepdale in February 1953.

His achievements up to that point are still enough to have earned him a place on our short list of centre-forwards for the Owls dream team.

Strip away emotion and David ‘Bronco’ Layne has a record that arguably equals or comes close to equalling Dooley’s.

Layne, a terrific talent of the early 60s, scored 58 goals in 81 games. That ratio alone is impressive. More remarkable is that in league goals only he netted 52 in 74 outings - and all of them were in the old top flight when he was being tipped as a future England player.

Like Dooley, Layne looked poised for a wonderful career but saw it ended in extraordinary circumstances; Bronco’s downfall was the bribes scandal, when he and two other superb players, Peter Swan and Tony Kay, were implicated in betting on a match at Ipswich.

Layne was rated by some afficionados as a more complete player than Dooley.

Although Layne was born in Sheffield, he started his league career at Rotherham, moved to Swindon and was a Bradford player when the Owls signed him in 1962 for £22,500 - a bargain, for a striker who had already been a prolific scorer before his move to Hillsborough.

His final game is his golden period with Wednesday came in the spring of 1964.

After being banned and jailed over the bribes affair, he rejoined the Owls in 1972 - but he was 33, past his peak, and played only a handful of further games for the club.

David Hirst is one of those who will always be remembered with affection by Wednesday fans.

Another member of our shortlist, he was one of the most exciting players of the last 25 years, with his pace, finishing, strength and terrific left foot.

The fact that he was a local lad and a bubbly personality helped to further endear him to supporters.

He made 309 starts for the club and 49 appearances as a sub and netted 128 goals.

Had it not been for injuries, his record would have been even more impressive and there is every chance that he would have overtaken John Fantham as the Owls’ record post-war scorer.

Hirsty, as he was and still is known by all and sundry, hit 32 goals in the 1990-91 season when the club did the promotion and League Cup double, and earned a breakthrough into the England side - the first of three caps.

In 1992 he and Alan Shearer were virtually on a par. They started together against France; Hirst was taken off at half-time, and it was Shearer who gained the international ascendancy.

Three months later Manchester United made a £3.5 million bid for Hirst, and the Owls pleased their fans by refusing to sell a prized asset.

A bad ankle injury caused by a notorious tackle by Arsenal centre-half Steve Bould set back the striker’s career.

But Hirst, who also played for England B and the Under-21s, remained a key man for Wednesday. One of his comebacks from injury attracted a crowd of almost 10,000 to a reserve game.

He rated his equaliser against Arsenal in the 1993 FA Cup final as one of the highlights of his career - a career that took him to Southampton in a £2m move in 1997.

Candidates for a place on our centre-forward shortlist included Roy Shiner and John Ritchie, prolific scorers in the 50s and 60s, and Keith Ellis, who made a goal mark in the 50s and early 60s.

There is also Lee Chapman, who scored 78 goals in four seasons in the 80s.

But we’ve gone for Mark Bright, who in his time was a strike partner for Hirst and the briefly mecurial Paul Warhurst.

Bright bagged 70 goals in 148 starts plus 22 appearances as a sub. He was top scorer for four successive seasons, and a key member of the side that challenged for top honours in the early 90s. He was the archetypal, traditional centre-forward, strong in the air and good on the deck.

His most memorable goal was probably the extra-time winner against United in the 1993 FA Cup semi-final at Wembley: headed in at the near post from a left-wing corner by John Harkes.

Bright was one of Trevor Francis’s excellent signings: Wednesday signed him from Crystal Palace in September, 1992, in exchange for £375,000 plus Paul Williams, and during David Pleat’s reign he left for Swiss club Sion in 1997.

Even in his Wednesday days, Bright had his eye on a media career. He would write occasional pieces for The Star and visit our offices to see how things were done. After he retired from football he rose in the BBC ranks.

But he had added his own little chapter in Wednesday history, which came after being Ian Wright’s partner in a free-scoring double act at Palace.

TO VOTE FOR OWLS ...

To vote for your favourite player simply email us at promotions@sheffieldnewspapers.co.uk with the subject as Best Team Ever Owls, stating your name, address, telephone number and the number of the player you are voting for. Alternatively you can text us your vote by texting STA (space) OWLS (space) followed by the number of the player you are voting for and sending to 61500.

Deadline for entries is Sunday, August 7 2011 at 10am.

Usual SNL rules apply, full terms and conditions available on request by contacting Star promotions, York Street, Sheffield, S1 1PU or alternatively go online at www.johnstonpress.co.uk/jpplc/competition

Texts cost 50p plus your usual network rate. The Editor’s decision is final. By supplying your telephone number you’re happy to receive SMS messages from Johnston Press and its approved business partners. Johnston Press (or via its agents) and its business partners may contact you about new promotions, products and services. Please add the word EXIT at the end of your message if you do not wish to receive these. Please note if you should enter after the stated closing date your entry will not be valid but you still may be charged. For quality and training purposes we may monitor communications. SMS service is provided by Velti DR Ltd SE1 8ND - 020 7633 5000.

SHEFFIELD UNITED V MANCHESTER City Brian Deane scoring against Manchester City 8th Febrauary 1992

SHEFFIELD UNITED V MANCHESTER City Brian Deane scoring against Manchester City 8th Febrauary 1992

David Hirst.....Sheffield Wednesday

David Hirst.....Sheffield Wednesday