Time to select your most lethal leftie

Alan Finney former Sheffield Wednesday footballer
Alan Finney former Sheffield Wednesday footballer
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ALAN Finney holds a Hillsborough post-war record that may never be beaten.

ALAN Finney holds a Hillsborough post-war record that may never be beaten.

Geoff Salmons

Geoff Salmons

Chris Brunt made the transition from Wednesday youngster to quality player.

Colin Dobson made a name for himself in the 60s; Dennis Woodhead flourished in the decade before that.

It is a mixed bag but each can stake a genuine claim to be on the shortlist for the left-wing spot in our Owls Dream Team.

Finney was perhaps better known as a right winger but could play on either flank.

Gil Reece, Sheffield United.

Gil Reece, Sheffield United.

His record of 504 league and cup games for the club is remarkble.

After making his debut at the age of 17, having joined them two years earlier, he served them as a senior player for 15 years.

His skill made many goals for others, and he netted 88 himself.

Finney, who was also known for consistency, helped the Owls to win the old Second Division title three times in the 50s, reach the FA Cup semi-finals in 1954 and 1960, the European Fairs Cup quarter-final, and take second place behind double-winning Spurs in 1960-61, when he played in every league game. He played once for England B and three times for the Under 23s.

Ian Bryson.

Ian Bryson.

It was quite a career for the forward who used to live in Armthorpe and watch his local team, Doncaster Rovers, where he ended up after leaving Hillsborough in 1966.

His legacy was a place in the Hillsborough Hall of Fame - along with another all-time great, inside forward Albert Quixall. They emerged at the same time and were key players for the Owls for seven seasons until Quixall was sold to Manchester United for £45,000 in 1958.

Dennis Woodhead was a quick left winger who was also known for his shooting. He scored 75 goals in 226 league and cup games for Wednesday between 1947 and 1955.

A Sheffielder who played for Hillsborough Boys Club, he joined the Owls as an amateur in 1942.

Dennis Woodhead.

Dennis Woodhead.

After a promising start in the first team, and 14 goals in the 1948-49 season, he had to overcome the setback of breaking a leg the following autumn.

He came back and played a part in the Owls’ sealing promotion to the old First Division. That success, in 1950, was followed by relegation but another promotion feat in which the winger played his part followed in 1952.

Woodhead was also in the squad that reached the FA Cup semi-finals in 1954.

His clubs after he left Hillsborough included Derby, for whom he scored 24 goals in 94 league games. He returned to Wednesday in 1971 as commercial manager and retired in 1987.

Colin Dobson made a debut against Arsenal in 1961 but it was a year later when he launched on a run that was to make him a first-team regular for four years, playing mostly on the left flank.

He had the skill and versatility to play as an inside forward, sometimes replacing Bobby Craig.

Colin Dobson.

Colin Dobson.

Dobson played 195 games for the club and scored 52 goals. He was born in the Middlesbrough area and was playing in amateur football there before being signed by the Owls.

His Hillsborough progress brought him two England U-23 caps in 1963. Like Finney, he helped Wednesday reach the Fairs Cup last eight, and played his part in the club finishing sixth in the old First Division for three consecutive seasons.

As the English game began to dispense with traditional wingers - influenced not least by Alf Ramsey’s tactics with the World-Cup-winning national team - Dobson lost his club place under Alan Brown early in 1966 and did not figure in the FA Cup Final against Everton that year. He was sold to Huddersfield for £20,000 a few months later.

Of our four left-wing contenders, Chris Brunt will of course be freshest in the memory.

He was an unknown from Middlesbrough when Chris Turner signed him on a short-term deal early in 2004 - effectively a trial.

The youngster’s promise was rewarded with a longer contract later in the year and away he went, to become a Hillsborough star and a £3 million player when he was sold to West Brom in 2007.

His biggest asset was - and still is - a tremendous left foot, capable of scoring spectacular goals and creating others with superb crosses.

His record is 123 starts for Wednesday, 30 appearances as a sub and 25 goals - including one in the play-off semi-finals against Brentford which helped to take the Owls to the Millennium Stadium and promotion.

Although sometimes lacking consistency, he was a real find, and during his time at Hillsborough he progressed from Northern Ireland U-21s and U-23s to become a full international.

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, July 31 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.

ANOTHER week, another excruciating choice.

Dane Whitehouse, Gil Reece, Geoff Salmons and Ian Bryson are all deserving of a place in any Sheffield United Hall of Fame.

But only one can make the cut as The Star’s bid to select Bramall Lane’s greatest post-war 11 this week focuses on the left hand side of midfield.

Whitehouse’s career could have been torn straight from the pages of a Boy’s Own annual. Real Roy of the Rovers stuff.

Supporters marvelled at his accomplished displays along the flank.

But they were seduced by Whitehouse’s loyalty.

A lifelong United follower, he actively discouraged Premier League clubs from courting his signature when the South Yorkshire outfit slipped out of the top-flight following a gut-wrenching 3-2 defeat at Chelsea.

Whitehouse agreed professional terms with United in 1987 and made his debut a year later in 1988.

But it was not until the 1991-92 campaign, having helped United secure two promotions, that he began to establish himself in the first team.

Laying the foundations for a 3-1 victory over arch-rivals Sheffield Wednesday cemented Whitehouse’s cult-hero status on the terraces.

It was richly deserved.

Only injury prevented Whitehouse from thrusting himself into England contention despite representing one of the country’s less fashionable clubs.

In 1997, his career ended in cruel fashion following a tackle by Gareth Ainsworth.

Like Whitehouse, Reece was also living the dream when he joined United in 1965.

Just two years earlier, the youngster had been working as a plumber and reflecting on what might have been after a disappointing spell at Cardiff City culminated in switches to Ton Pentre and Pembroke Borough.

But having been offered as route back into the professional game by Newport County chief Billy Lucas, he grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

United, who had watched him score nine times in 32 appearances for the Somerton Park side, paid £10,000 to acquire his services and Reece proved to be worth every penny.

He slotted effortlessly into an attack which also contained Alan Birchenall and Mick Jones.

The first of his 29 Wales caps quickly followed.

Unfortunately for Reece, so did a broken leg.

But he demonstrated the same courage and tenancity which had helped him overcome that earlier disappointment in his career by producing the form of his life during the 1967/68 campaign.

Indeed, Reece finished that season as United’s leading scorer with an impressive 13 league goals.

Having tasted the disappointment of relegation, he helped the South Yorkshire club regain their place among the game’s elite alongside the likes of Tony Currie, Alan Woodward and Billy Dearden.

He was described as “fast, clever and tough”, and one obituary following his death in 2003 also marvelled at “how difficult he was to knock off the ball”.

“Reece packed a venomous shot and was magnificent in the air for a relatively small man,” it read.

He netted 58 times in 210 league appearances for United.

Reece is also remembered fondly by fans in both the Welsh capital and Swansea.

Salmons, born in Mexborough, took a more tradition route into the game having progressed through the ranks at United before making his debut against West Bromwich Albion in 1967. Despite initially struggling to hold down a regular place in the side, he also helped United reach the First Division in 1971.

With nearly 200 appearances to his name, Salmons waved goodbye to South Yorkshire in 1974 after completing a £200,000 transfer to Stoke City in 1974 before returning briefly, on loan, in 1977.

Spells at Leicester and Chesterfield, where he played 120 times in league competition, followed before retirement.

Bryson also pulled on the famous red and white stripes more tham 150 times.

Born in Kilmarnock, Scotland, he moved to United in 1988 after impressing for his home-town club.

Thirty-eight league goals followed and, in 1993, he joined neighbours Barnsley.

Bryson hung up his boots after a hugely successful spell with Preston North End and later Rochdale.

Indeed at Deepdale, he briefly played alongside a very young David Beckham.

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, July 31 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 Wednesday.....Chris Brunt

Sheffield Wednesday.....Chris Brunt

Dane Whitehouse

Dane Whitehouse