Billy back to add to the old boy network

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SHEFFIELD United have further stiffened their old boys’ connection after confirming that Billy Dearden has returned to Bramall Lane.

The one-time Blades’ striker is to become the club’s chief scout having held the same role at Blackpool.

Dearden wasn’t under contract at Blackpool, where he had worked for three years, and was free to leave.

“Billy has done an exceptional job at Blackpool,” said Blades boss Danny Wilson.

“He has helped to bring in some exceptional players for them. He is a top quality individual and I’m glad to have got him.”

Dearden follows another United old boy in Frank Barlow through the door and the pair were players together at the club during the success period of the early 70s.

It was United’s scouting which unearthed Dearden, once described as “the best £10,000 United ever spent” - the fee paid to Chester to bring him over in August 1970.

Playing up front, as a fearless, hard running player, excellent in the air and with an eye for goal, he led the line as United soared into the top flight at the end of that memorable 1970/71 season.

He was to average more than a goal per game, 61 goals in 170 appearances, before leaving in 1975 and returning to Chester. He was later to play for Chesterfield.

Barlow, Wilson’s recently appointed assistant, originally arrived at United via a famous schoolboy route that proved quite fruitful for United.

Barlow, from Mexborough, came via the Don and Dearne (school) Boys team which proved a handy production line of Under 15 age group youngsters some decades ago and also saw, among others, Geoff Salmons go to United after being ‘spotted’ with D&D.