The greatest teams... it’s your choice!

1: Springett
1: Springett
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Have your say

It’s one of the most enduring debates among football fans everywhere - what’s your best ever team?

Well, we are calling on the followers of Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday to tell us who would be in their best ever side, since the Second World War. We are looking for your Sheffield United Dream Team and your Sheffield Wednesday Dream Team. Today we start with the goalkeepers and in the following weeks will be inviting you to let us know which players, position by position, you would pick for each of the 11 places in your team. To jog your memory, we will offer up every week four past stars from each club for each position. But it will be your choice from our four nominees- and the player who gets the most votes will fill that position in the Dream Team. Happy voting!

2: Hodge

2: Hodge

TWO men who played for England and two who very nearly did.

These form our shortlist for the goalkeeping spot in our Sheffield Wednesday dream team.

Ron Springett, Martin Hodge, Kevin Pressman and Chris Woods all have their own place in Hilllsborough history.

Chronologically, Springett came first as a member of the side that achieved the Owls’ highest post-war position in the league. Fans of a more tender age will look back on the early 1990s as a halcyon period but in 1961 only an exceptional, double-winning Spurs team stood between the Owls and the old First Division Championship.

3: Pressman

3: Pressman

Springett spent nine years at Hillsborough and won 33 England caps - more than anyone else had achieved while a Wednesday player.

Gordon Banks succeeded him in the international 11 but the Wednesday star was in the squad for the 1996 World Cup campaign, after playing for his club in the FA Cup Final that year, and in the World Cup Finals in Chile in 1962.

Not a big keeper by today’s standards, Springett was brave, agile and quick in thought and action, and his popularity among supporters was well earned.

Eric Taylor was so keen to sign him from QPR, in 1958, that after the keeper had rejected the move the Wednesday boss made the concession of allowing him to train in London and just travel to Sheffield for games.

4: Woods

4: Woods

Springett went on to play 384 games for the club.

His farewell game was at Leeds in the final game of the 1966-67 season.

A week later, with Ron favouring a move back to a London club, Wednesday and QPR swapped keepers, with his brother, Peter, switching to Hillsborough.

Wednesday granted Springett senior a testimonial, which attracted a crowd of 23,000.

1: Hodgkinson

1: Hodgkinson

Peter spent seven years with Wednesday and, though not achieving the same heights as Ron, he made 207 apearances for the club and earned six England Under 23 caps.

Next on our list is Martin Hodge, a keeper from another golden age.

He was No 1 when Howard Wilkinson’s team won promotion to the top flight after an absence of 14 years and then took the old First Division by storm.

Hodge set a new club record of 214 consecutive League appearances and made a total of 249 during a five-year reign.

When Wilkinson signed him on loan from just before the start of the 1983-84 promotion campaign it was intended that he would provide cover for England Under 21 keeper Iain Hesford.

But such was Hodge’s form that he started the season in the side and a £50,000 deal with Everton was soon done. Hesford’s career at Hillsborough never took off.

3: Kenny

3: Kenny

Hodge and Wednesday became established First Division performers and had many adventures in the cups - including a semi-final against Everton in 1986.

That same year, the keeper was on standby for the World Cup in Mexico, because of a doubt over Gary Bailey. Hodge was sent training gear by the FA and was on the verge of flying to join the squad but was then told that Bailey was staying.

Hodge’s time as Wednesday No 1 came to an end with the emergence of the third of our contenders, Kevin Pressman.

Pressman’s remarkable service to the club comprised 19 years and 474 starts plus four appearances as a sub. He rose to England Youth, Under-21 and B honours and was in the full squad to face Switzerland in March 1998..

He also showed tenacity, for his career was not all plain sailing; he had to regain his place, at times, from men such as Chris Turner and Chris Woods.

Pressman also established a rapport with the fans because he was a local lad - brought up in Dronfield, though he was born in Hampshire.

Besides being a top-class keeper, he had a terrific left foot - as occasionally seen in penalty shoot-outs.

Pressman was unlucky in that he did not figure in the biggest games of the 90s; he had been overtaken by Chris Turner at the time of the League Cup Final in 1991.

Then in the summer of that year Chris Woods was signed - meaning a spell largely spent on the sidelines by Pressman as Wednesday challenged at the top of the league and in 1992-93 paid four visits to Wembley.

But Pressman eventually displaced Woods, and Pavel Srnicek after that, and his final appearance was in May, 2004. Turner, another who suffered by the arrival of Woods, was another who served Wednesday well, making 205 appearances over two spells.

Woods gets a place among our contenders by virtue of being an England player, and a member of the Owls team that challenged for top honours.

Trevor Francis made him the Owls’ first £1 million player, in a £1.2m deal with Glasgow Rangers in the summer of 1991.

Woods kept goal as the team finished third in the top flight the following season, beat Sheffield United in the FA Cup semi-final, and were runners-up to Arsenal in both cups. There were some who pointed the finger at Woods when he was beaten by a last-gasp header by Andy Linighan in the FA Cup Final replay. But Francis never faulted him for that heart-breaker and gave credit to the sheer power of the header.

Woods won 19 caps during his five years at Hillsborough and took his total to 43.

After an expected challenge from Wednesday for the Championship failed to materialise early in the 1993-94 season, Woods was displaced by Pressman and ended up with a record of 137 starts for the club plus one appearance from the bench.

Other notable Wednesday keepers include Bob Bolder, who played 224 games and was in Jack Charlton’s promotion side, and Dave McIntosh, who perhaps has been obscured by the mist of time but was first choice for almost 10 years up to 1957, played in the top flight and in title-winning Second Division teams, and made 308 appearances.

But the list has to be whittled down to four: Springett, Hodge, Pressman and Woods.

Take your pick.

THE problem with managing the Azzurri, Marcello Lippi once remarked, is that 60 million people think they can do a better job.

Football, after all, is a game of opinions. Often diametrically opposed.

So any poll of a club’s greatest ever names is guaranteed to be a controversial exercise. Even before a vote is cast.

Sheffield United have been fortunate to be blessed with some wonderful goalkeepers during the post-war years and whittling them down to just four is an almost impossible task.

The reaction to the choices here, even though they have been made with guidance from various different experts at Bramall Lane, are bound to provoke a wide variety of response.

The age of those whose thoughts have been counselled is bound to be a factor.

Likewise the eras within which their respective favourites played.

Can, for example, even the most gifted of individuals truly showcase their talents in a struggling team?

Should loyalty and professionalism rather than simply ability be used as a yardstick?

As countless managers and chairman have discovered, sport is not an exact science.

If only it were so.

Few, though, will dispute the right of the first two picks to appear on this list.

Alan Hodgkinson MBE, still a familiar figure at United, ticks every box required for selection.

An England international with five caps to his name, the keeper, now 74, served with distinction for 15 seasons after arriving from Worksop Town in 1953.

Such a statistic would be almost unthinkable now in the modern era.

Hodgkinson, who continues to work in a coaching capacity at Oxford alongside another United old boy, Chris Wilder, travelled to two World Cups before hanging-up his gloves following a friendly against Chesterfield in 1971.

Alan Kelly, who made over 200 league appearances, also left an indelible mark on United fans with a series of sparkling performances; the most memorable of which arguably came when he excelled during penalty shoot-outs which helped the side reach FA Cup semi-finals in 1993 and 1998.

Now a member of Giovanni Trapattoni’s backroom staff with the Republic of Ireland, Kelly has worked extensively with perhaps the most contentious pick.

Paddy Kenny’s decision to join Queens Park Rangers soon after serving a suspension for doping offences having inadvertently taken a prescribed chest medicine midway through the 2009 play-off campaign damaged his reputation in the eyes of many supporters, directors and colleagues alike.

However, while his judgement can be called into question - United, it must be said, continued to pay him throughout that nine month ban - his prowess between the posts can not be denied.

Signed for less than £50,000 and initially as back-up, he proved to be one of the bargains of the decade and was a member of the squad which, under Neil Warnock’s tutelage, reached the Premier League in 2006.

Simon Tracey, like Kenny, delivered a contribution to United which far out-stripped his meagre transfer fee.

By his own admission, the Londoner was prone to make the odd error during a career which spanned almost two decades and spells on loan at places such as Manchester City and Norwich.

But his down-to-earth manner made him popular with supporters and colleagues alike. Despite seeing the likes of Kenny and Kelly both rob him of a starting role, Tracey proved a great and enduring survivor.

Indeed, he made over 300 league appearances for United before injury forced him into retirement.

Meanwhile, Mel Rees deserves special mention.

Born in Cardiff , he nevertheless will always be remembered as a true son of Shoreham Street after demonstrating the same courage off the field as he did on it throughout a battle with cancer which eventually cost him his life, aged just 26, in 1993.

Seldom can a player have captured so many hearts in such a short space of time and a tournament, bearing Rees’ name, is held annually at Shirecliffe to raise funds for a local hospice.

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 all entries is Sunday, June 5 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.

TO VOTE FOR BLADES

To vote for your favourite player 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 all entries is Sunday, June 5 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.

4: Tracey

4: Tracey

2: Kelly

2: Kelly