Sheffield football team to reunite 40 years after being crowned national champions

One of Sheffield's most successful junior football teams is reuniting to celebrate 40 years since they were crowned national champions.

Friday, 20th May 2022, 5:04 pm

In May 1982 Sheffield Boys U15s beat Coventry over two legs to lift the English Schools Trophy for the first time in 57 years.

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The team featured several players who went on to enjoy successful professional careers, including John Beresford MBE and Fraser Digby.

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A newspaper cutting of Paul and the team.

Paul Dolby coached Sheffield Boys U15s alongside his job as head of PE at the now-closed Colley School. He said: "I’m really, really excited about meeting them again and looking forward to meeting their wives as well. We have got 40 years to catch up on.

“Hopefully everyone will be able to come. Even though we were a squad – and we’re still a squad – if we miss one it’s going to feel like we haven’t got a full team.”

Defender Beresford had spells with Portsmouth, Newcastle and Southampton after starting out with Manchester City.

Meanwhile, goalkpeeper Digby progressed from Sheffield Boys to Manchester United before making more than 400 appearances for Swindon Town.

The Sheffield Boys U15s team pictured in 1982.

“I think virtually every one of them got signed up with a professional club,” Ecclesfield-based Paul added.

"They did really, really well.”

Paul, now 71, remembers the team being decades ahead of their time tactically when they beat Coventry 1-0 at Bramall Lane and 4-1 in the return fixture at Highfield Road.

He said: “We played to our strengths, which was keeping the ball. We played out from the back 30 years before it was normal.

"People were saying ‘Get the ball and kick it out’. It frightened quite a lot of spectators, but it paid off in the end.”

Before coaching Sheffield Boys, Paul played professionally for Sheffield Wednesday between 1969 and 1971.

He joined the Owls from their arch rivals Sheffield United, where he had spent the previous three years.

The attacking full-back initially turned down a professional contract at Bramall Lane before a change of heart. But by then the club had switched manager and Arthur Rowley rejected him.

Was there any hesitation crossing the city’s dividing line?

"No, not really.”

A back injury scuppered Paul’s professional career but he later worked at Sheffield Wednesday’s academy from 2000 to 2003 before leaving to run a regional talent centre for Liverpool in Huddersfield.