Can you remember when Sean Connery graced the turf at Sheffield's Owlerton Stadium?

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The recent death of Sean Connery brought to mind of when he appeared in Sheffield, not as a film star but as a footballer.

Prior to his rise to fame, portraying James Bond, he was struggling to make a living in his native Edinburgh, but one thing he did excel at, was playing football in the local leagues.

Scouts for professional clubs latched on to him, and it is said that Matt Busby offered him a contract to play for Manchester United.

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To everyone's surprise, he turned it down, having decided he would like a career as an actor.

Sean Connery died on October 31, aged 90Sean Connery died on October 31, aged 90
Sean Connery died on October 31, aged 90

After gaining acting parts, first as an extra, then in minor roles, he was chosen for a leading role in ''Blood Money'', a BBC production, in 1957.

It may well have been his appearance in this, that led to him being invited to fund raising football team, for charity, the ''Showbiz xI, that was formed that year.

Their fund raising matches proved popular, but none perhaps more so, than one I attended at Owlerton Stadium, which was on Sunday, October 23, in 1958, I believe.

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It was billed as a ''Grand Charity Match'', in aid of the Sheffield Telegraph and Star old folks fund, and Sheffield University Rag Charities, their opponents being Sheffield Ex-Soccer Stars, although they did have former Barnsley keeper, Harry Hough, in goals for them.

The programme for the matchThe programme for the match
The programme for the match

The best known showbiz stars were probably entertainer Dave King, and singer, Ronnie Carroll, whilst their captain, Billy Wright had made his name as a footballer, gaining what was then a world record number of appearances for his country, 105, 90 of those as captain. (His wife was Joy Beverly, of the well known Beverly Sisters, singing group, so that was a connection with showbiz).

Sean Connery, and Des O'Connor were future big names and another player was Chas McDevitt, who had been in the pop charts in 1957 with the song, ''Freight Train'', featuring female singer, Nancy Whiskey.

Former United star Jimmy Hagan, was probably the big draw of the ex-soccer stars team, with two well known officials, Referee George McCabe, and as a linesman, Derek Dooley.

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The organisers clearly underestimated the appeal of the match, for thousands turned up, spilling over on to the Greyhound, and Speedway tracks, and some alongside the pitch.

Scottish actor Sean Connery, best known for his role in seven of the James Bond films. (Getty Images)Scottish actor Sean Connery, best known for his role in seven of the James Bond films. (Getty Images)
Scottish actor Sean Connery, best known for his role in seven of the James Bond films. (Getty Images)

I have a copy of the front page of the programme, but not the programme itself.

Maybe The Star, as one of the beneficiaries, for the old folks fund, might have it in its archives, or possibly a reader may have kept one?

It would be good to see the full line-up. It was to be a further four years before Sean Connery became well known, but the breakthrough lead to International stardom.

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I was by that time, an avid reader of books, and had enjoyed reading Dr. No, by Ian Fleming. When the film came to Sheffield, I had a job to convince friends Alan Theaker, and Maurice Downing, to go and see it, because they didn't like the title. Coming out of the cinema, I think we all wanted to be like James Bond, (especially if it meant getting close to Ursula Andress.)

As we know, Sean Connery went on to star in more James Bond films, and many others, but I sometimes wondered if he recalled gracing the turf at Sheffield's Owlerton Stadium, with the Showbiz xI.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.