3rd July – Lee Bradbury

Lee Bradbury found his way into professional football after being an army recruit so understands about the other side of life.

Many footballers these days get criticised for not having worked a day in their life and getting too much money. But Bradbury is someone that will surely make the players of whatever clubs he manages to appreciate what they have. He currently manages Havant & Waterlooville and has just led them to promotion to the National League.

Bradbury started his playing career at Portsmouth but he first made an impact on loan at Exeter City, where he scored five league goals in 14 games in 1995. On his return to his parent club he did start getting more opportunities and really showed his potential during the 1996-97 season which led to him being linked with big money moves away. In July 1997, after 54 games for Portsmouth, Bradbury joined Manchester City for £3 million.

Bradbury Portsmouth

However, it was a tough time for the club as they suffered relegation at the end of the 1997-98 season but the striker did manage to score six times. Just three months into the following campaign he was on the move again, this time to Crystal Palace for £1.5 million. He only lasted 32 league games and was on the move once more, returning to first club Portsmouth.

His career started to recover and he played over 100 times in his second spell but as the team pushed for the First Division title in the 2002-03 season he was finding game time harder to come by and was sent out on loan to Sheffield Wednesday. During this spell he scored three times in 11 games showing that he can still have an impact. But he couldn’t force his way back in to the Portsmouth side and another loan spell to Derby County followed. He didn’t manage to score for Derby.

In 2004, Bradbury joined Walsall and scored just one goal for them, coming against the team he failed to score for Derby. He never really settled at Walsall and was on the move again. Oxford United was his next destination, where he scored nine times in 63 league games. He stayed until January 2006 and moved onto Southend United.

Bradbury OU

He only stayed for one full season before making the final move of his career, joining Bournemouth. As he was now coming towards the end of his career he started having different roles, not only off the pitch but on it too, and switched position from striker to right back to cover for injuries. His performances were that good that he became first choice in that position until the club signed Stephen Purches. After playing over 100 times for the club he decided to retire in 2011 after being named caretaker manager of Bournemouth after the departure of Eddie Howe.

Bradbury Bournemouth

Bournemouth reached the playoffs in his first season but they were unfortunately beaten by Huddersfield and after a poor run of form in the following campaign, Bradbury was sacked. He has since been manager of Havant & Waterlooville since October 2012.

The final word can go to Bournemouth chairman Eddie Mitchell. “For me it was a no brainer. Lee has progressed well, signed good players and brought in an experienced assistant. It helps bring stability to the club and that’s what we want to do.”

Advertisements

18th February – Bobby Robson

Bobby Robson has gone down as one of the greatest managers ever after an excellent career but more importantly to him he went down as one of the few genuine nice people in the world of football.

There isn’t anyone that says a bad word about Bobby Robson and he is loved all over Europe after managing in Portugal, Holland, Spain and England with most clubs he was at holding him in a very high regard. It is very rare for someone to be loved as much as him by all football fans and everyone will remember him for a long time to come.

Robson started his career with Fulham in 1950 as an inside forward and spent six years at the club playing 152 games and scoring 68 goals before moving to West Brom for a club record fee of £25,000. He finished as the club’s top scorer during the 57-58 season was also given the captain’s armband but in 1962 he returned to Fulham. His second spell lasted five years and in 1967 he joined Vancouver Royals as player-manager.

Robson Fulham

He only spent a year in Canada before returning to Fulham for a third spell, this time as manager. He could not save them from relegation and was sacked in the following campaign. But he was given a chance by Ipswich Town in 1969 and he would build one of the best teams ever seen at the club. After four average years he led the club to fourth place in the First Division and won the Texaco Cup during the 1972-73 season which was the start of something special. For the next nine seasons they only finished below sixth once but in that same season they won the FA Cup so that made up for it.

His reign at Ipswich lasted 13 years and he even won the UEFA Cup in 1981 but even more remarkably during his time at the club he only signed 14 players and made up the rest of the squad with players that came through the youth team. These achievements landed him the England job and it is fair to say that he has been one of the most popular England managers ever. But it could have been so different after he offered his resignation after England failed to qualify for Euro 84. He didn’t have much success in the Euros but his record in World Cups was very good as he led England to the quarter finals in 86 and were only beaten by Diego Maradona’s Hand of God goal and a bit of magic from the Argentinean. But in 1990 after being hated by many sections of the media he went closer than any other England manager to winning the trophy and reached the semi finals before being beaten on penalties by West Germany. On arrival back home the team and manager were cheered and nobody wanted Robson to leave the job.

Robson England

Robson had already accepted a job offer from PSV after the FA told him they weren’t renewing his contract before the World Cup. While in Holland he won the league title twice before moving to Sporting Lisbon in 1992, where he hired a young Jose Mourinho to be his interpreter. After a decent first season in which the club finished third, he had took them to the top of table but was surprisingly sacked. Rivals Porto were quick to appoint Robson and they went on to beat Sporting in the Portuguese Cup final and would go on to win the title in the next two seasons.

After his success in Portugal he made the move to Spain and joined Barcelona and he led them to the Spanish Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup but was moved upstairs into a general manager position after just one season. He only spent one more year in Spain and returned to PSV for a short spell before he finally came home.

Newcastle appointed Robson in September 1999 and he turned the whole club around right from his very first home match. They went on to beat Sheffield Wednesday 8-0 with Alan Shearer scoring five goals. In just over one season he took Newcastle from bottom of the table to qualifying for the Champions League, finishing fourth and then third in the next campaign. Such was the turnaround that a fifth place finish was disappointing in his final full season in charge.

Robson NUFC

Robson was sacked after a slow start and every Newcastle fan will agree that the club haven’t been the same since and the fans still love him today. Unfortunately aged 76 on the 31st July 2009 he passed away and the news was very hard for most to take that followed football including players, coaches and fans.

The final words are difficult to choose because of how many good things were said about Bobby but Alex Ferguson summed up everything by saying. “I was never too big or proud to ask him for advice which he gave freely and unconditionally. And I’m sure I’m speaking for a lot of people when I say that. There is not a person I would put an inch above Bobby Robson. Always a smile, always a friendly word with never a mention of his own problems. The world, not just the football world, will miss him.”

3rd November – Stevie May

Sheffield Wednesday have made a good start to the season but they have struggled to put the ball in net and they will be hoping that Stevie May can find his feet in the Championship soon.

They have the joint best defensive record in the division and if only they could have scored more goals then they would have been closer to the top of the league than they currently are. May will need time to adapt to the English game but if the chances fall his way then he will surely hit the back of the net on a regular basis.

The 22 year old started his career at St Johnstone and made his debut as a 16 year old on the 11th May 2009 against Airdrie United and even managed to score. This convinced the club to give him a new contract but did not make an appearance in the following season as he needed extra time to develop. He had to wait until a game against Hearts on the 13th November 2010 to make his next appearance and would then start his first game against Motherwell on the 26th January 2011. In total he played 22 games over the course of the season and scored twice in a 2-0 win over Hamilton.
May SJ
At the start of the 2011-12 season he could not break into the first team and joined Alloa Athletic on loan and was instrumental in the club winning the Scottish Third Division. He scored a hatrick against East Stirlingshire in January 2012 and was in fantastic form for the rest of the season. Later in the season he would score four times against Elgin City to secure the title for Alloa and was then named the SFL Third Division Player of the Season after 19 goals in 22 games. This also led to him being given an extended contract at his parent club.

But it did not secure him a first team place at St Johnstone and he once again went out on loan. This time to First Division side Hamilton. After a slightly slow start he found his feet in the higher division and began to score goals for fun, including hatricks in consecutive games in April 2013 against Airdrieonians and Livingston. At the end of the season he won more personal awards after scoring 26 goals in just 35 games. This form finally convinced his parent club to give him a chance in their first team.
May Hamilton
May started the season well with four goals in the first nine league games and a winner over Rosenborg in the Europa League. The following month, May won the October SPL Player of the Month after scoring five times in four games. His goalscoring did not slow as he hit two hatricks in the space of three weeks against Dundee United and then Hearts. May’s 19th and 20th goals of the season were arguably his most important as they were in the Scottish Cup final against Aberdeen which secured the club’s place in their first ever final. They would go on to lift the trophy with May providing the assist for former Sheffield Wednesday favourite Steven MacLean. May finished the season with 27 goals in all competitions and he was linked with moves away from the club all summer, however he played in the early rounds of the Europa League, scoring against Luzern and Spartak Trnava.

On the 9th August 2014, the striker signed for Sheffield Wednesday and scored his first goal for the club against Middlesbrough on the 23rd August. He would go on to also score against Birmingham City and Reading in the following weeks but now he has to push on and grab more goals for the side.
May SW
The final word can go to Sheffield Wednesday manager Stuart Gray. “We’ve got to create chances for him. He’s got a calmness in the 18 yard box where he can pick out the corners. I’ve got every confidence he will convert them. He’s very keen to get into the full Scotland squad.”

27th October – Rhys Weston

Rhys Weston may not be the most recognisable name but he has had a very interesting career and if it wasn’t for injuries he may have played at a higher level for a prolonged period of time.

The defender will be fondly remembered by Cardiff City fans as he helped them climb from the bottom division of the Football League to the Championship and even took a pay cut in 2005 to help the club. The 34 year old can also say that he played at the highest level as he featured seven times for Wales between the years of 2000 and 2005.

Now 34 he doesn’t have a club but has played in a few different countries and experienced some different cultures so he can at least take that from his career. Weston started his career at Arsenal and made his debut on the 30th November 1999 in a League Cup game against Middlesbrough after coming on as a substitute. Later in the season he would go on to make his only top flight appearance as he started the final game against Newcastle United on the 14th May 2000.

In total he played three times for Arsenal before joining Cardiff in November 2000 for £300,000. He made his debut in a 3-2 win over Lincoln City and would go on to play another 31 times as the club gained promotion to Division Two after finishing 2nd. In the following season Weston was a more important member of the team and showed his quality in the 43 games he played, unfortunately the club missed out on back to back promotions after being beaten in the playoffs by Stoke City. The 2002-03 season was successful for the player and the club as they managed to gain promotion after beating QPR 1-0 in the playoff final. During the season Weston also scored his first professional goal after scoring in a 4-0 win over Tranmere Rovers on the 26th October.
Weston CC
Despite adapting well to the First Division, Weston struggled with injuries and would only play 24 times after suffering a knee injury and then damaging cartilage in his other knee in March 2004. In the following campaign he returned to his consistent self but again his season was ended by injury. At the end of the season he accepted a substantial reduction in his wages and was placed on the transfer list by new manager Dave Jones but still managed to play 30 times during the 2005-06 season. However, he was left out of the club’s pre-season tour and was released.

Weston then joined Norwegian side Viking but his only match for the club lasted 12 minutes as he dislocated his shoulder. Four days later the manager was sacked and the incoming manager could not speak English so Weston returned to the UK. In February 2007 Weston signed for Port Vale. He would go onto play 15 games for the club before being released. On the 16th July 2007 Weston signed for Walsall and went on to play 50 games for the club during the 2007-08 season earning himself a new deal. He would continue to be a consistent player but at the end of the 2009-10 manager Chris Hutchings decided not to give him a contract and after 111 games he joined Dundee.
Weston Walsall
He spent two seasons at the Scottish side and in both seasons they finished 2nd in Division One but at the end of his contract he decided to join Icelandic side KR Reykjavik. Due to financial problems he left the club after just 16 appearances and made the move to Malaysia to sign for Sabah FA. He only played six times and joined AFC Wimbledon on the 7th August 2013. Once again he did not get much game time and after a loan spell at Sutton United he was not offered a new contract.
Weston Dundee
The final word can go to Richard Money. “Rhys has become an important member of the team. His performances have become more and more consistent as the season has progressed and we hope that he will continue to be an important player for Walsall.”

26th October – Steve Howey

Being born in Sunderland but going on to play for Newcastle United is what birthday boy Steve Howey did in his career and he will have been delighted that his former side got a win away to Tottenham Hotspur.

The central defender is 43 today and he went through a number of emotions during his time at Newcastle and will know exactly what the fans are going through at the moment as he endured some good times and bad times during his career. He will also be remembered as one of the defenders in Newcastle’s very attacking team under Kevin Keegan that reached the very top of the Premier League and should have won a title, however this didn’t quite happen but Howey still managed to earn himself four England caps because of his performances.

Howey started his career at Newcastle and signed his first professional contract on the 11th December 1989 and would go on to be one of the most popular players amongst the fans over the next 11 years. He was originally a striker when playing for the youth teams and reserves before the manager of the time Ossie Ardiles decided to use him as a defender. He did not become a first team regular until Kevin Keegan took charge and became an important member of the side during the club’s First Division title win in the 1992-93 season. Unfortunately Howey didn’t quite get to live up to his potential as injuries disrupted his time at the club but he still helped the club finish runners up in the Premier League during the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons and was involved in some dramatic games. He also helped the club reach the final of the FA Cup in 1998.
Howey NUFC
His time at Newcastle finally came to an end in August 2000 as newly promoted Manchester City paid £2 million for his services. It would be a very tough start to his career in Manchester and on his debut the team went on to lose 4-0 against Charlton Athletic. Things would not get better and the club were relegated from the top flight at the end of the season. However, Howey decided to stay at the club and helped them secure an immediate return to the Premier League as they won the First Division. Howey would stay at the club for one more season and this time it was a much better effort as they finished in the top half of the table. While at City, he had a decent goalscoring record and found the back of the net 11 times in 94 games, including a late equaliser against rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford, unfortunately for Howey though the game is more remembered more for the clash between Roy Keane and Alf-Inge Haaland.
Howey MCFC
In 2003 the defender moved to Leicester City for £200,000 however he only stayed at the club for six months and after just 13 games he joined Bolton Wanderers. After just three appearances for the club he was released and had a short spell in the MLS with New England Revolution before returning to England to play one game for Hartlepool United.
Howey LC
The final word can go to Micky Adams who signed him at Leicester City. “I’ve been looking for players with Premier League experience and Steve fits the bill. He can still do a very good job. It’s pleasing to get the first signing out the way and at such a good price. He is a former international and will be a good addition.”

8th September – Gary Speed

Gary Speed would have been 45 today and is someone that the footballing world has missed because of how likeable he was and how much effort he put in every time he was on the pitch.

The midfielder was a fan favourite at every club he played for and his death shocked everyone as it was so unexpected and he had begun to change Wales’ fortune on the international stage and there were many people that believed he would be the man that took them to a major tournament. The 27th November will be a tough day for all his friends and family but today is one to celebrate his life and his career achievements.

Speed began his career at Leeds United and signed his first professional contract on the 13th June 1988 and was quickly recognised as a player with huge potential by the manager at the time Howard Wilkinson. He made his debut as a 19 year old in the Second Division against Oldham Athletic, this was his only appearance that season but in the following campaign he played 25 times and scored three goals, helping Leeds gain promotion.

He was quickly becoming the first name on the team sheet and played a key role in the 1991-92 season as Leeds won the First Division title. He played alongside Gordon Strachan, Gary McAllister and David Batty in the midfield and they are considered one of the greatest line-ups in the modern game. In the first two years of the newly formed Premier League, Speed hit double figures and was also named in the PFA Team of the Year at the end of the 1992-93 season.
Speed LU
He stayed at Leeds for eight seasons and because of his consistency and the fact he rarely picked up any injuries, he played 312 games before moving to Everton before the 1996-97 season for £3.5 million. He made his debut on the 17th August 1996 and scored against Newcastle United. He finished as the club’s joint top scorer with 11 goals, including a hatrick against Southampton in a 7-1 win. Despite being named the new club captain by Howard Kendall, their relationship turned sour and the midfielder was sold for £5.5 million to Newcastle on the 6th February 1998.
Speed NU
While at Newcastle, he helped them to two FA Cup finals in 1998 and 1999 but unfortunately they lost both. His performances at the club were exceptional and were a main reason why they rose up the table and started being considered as Premier League contenders and regulars in Europe. He stayed at Newcastle until July 2004 and many were surprised that the club were willing to let him go but after 285 appearances and 40 goals he joined Bolton Wanderers.

In December 2006 he became the first player in history to play 500 games in the Premier League after featuring in a 4-0 win over West Ham. He once again barely missed a game for the club and in his first three seasons he played 40 times or more and in the 2006-07 season he even managed to score eight Premier League goals.
Speed BW
Speed ended his playing career at Sheffield United but injuries stopped him being as influential for them as he had been for his previous clubs. So he ended his career having played 841 times and hitting the back of the net 136 times.

The final word can go to his former teammate and friend Craig Bellamy. “Gary Speed was a leader. He was the person I admired most. I looked up to him and I always took it as a great compliment he, in turn, looked out for me and valued me as a player. He was a mentor to me, someone whose advice I sought, someone I listened to. I was a little in awe of him. I adored him and looked up to him.”

16th June – Mark Crossley

Mark Crossley is 45 today and is currently the goalkeeping coach at Barnsley but he had a long playing career that included playing over 300 times for Nottingham Forest in the league and scoring a goal for Sheffield Wednesday.

The goalkeeper had a very long career and was very well respected by his teammates and opponents and is someone that will forever go down in history and be the answer to a football quiz for many years to come as he was the only goalkeeper to save a penalty from Southampton’s Matt Le Tissier.
Crossley started his career at Nottingham Forest under Brian Clough and although in the 1988-89 season he started it as fourth choice, he quickly became involved in the first team. He played three times in the season and Forest beat Liverpool and Newcastle United in the league and Coventry City in the League Cup.
Crossley Forest
After a loan spell at Manchester United where he didn’t play a game he finally became first choice for his parent club at the start of the 1990-91 season and this started a long and largely successful spell at the club that lasted 13 years and nearly 400 appearances in all competitions. This included the 1991 FA Cup final which they unfortunately lost to Tottenham Hotspur. He was granted a testimonial in the 1999-2000 season which saw 15,000 fans turn up to the game but this turned out to be his last season at the club as he was released at the end of the season because of financial problems at the club.

He then joined Middlesbrough to provide competition for the number one shirt and in his first season he struggled to get enough games as he only played seven times and on his final appearance of the season he was sent off against Arsenal. However in the next season he played a lot more featuring 18 times in the Premier League but these would be his last games in the league for Middlesbrough as he joined Stoke City on loan in November 2002. He played a vital part in keeping the club in the First Division and his experience was clearly a factor in keeping them up.

The Welsh international was growing frustrated and wanted to play first team football so he joined Fulham for £500,000 in 2003 and made his debut against Wigan Athletic on the 23rd September. Once again though he was mainly seen as their second choice but he did get more first team opportunities after the sale of Edwin Van Der Sar. It was in the 2005-06 season that he had one of the best performances of his career as he kept a clean sheet in a 1-0 win over Chelsea.

In November 2006 he joined Sheffield Wednesday on loan and was reunited with former teammate Brian Laws who was their manager at the time. He was very impressive in his spell at Hillsborough and it was extended until the end of the season. On the 23rd December Wednesday were trailing 3-2 at home to Southampton and Crossley went forward for a last minute corner and managed to score a dramatic equaliser. He played 17 league games for the club before returning to Fulham.
Crossley SW
Fulham then released Crossley and he signed for Oldham Athletic where he was also part of their coaching staff. In all competitions he played 46 times for the club that season and was awarded a new contract at the end of the year, which he signed but he could not keep his place in the team for the full season.
Crossley Oldham
Crossley ended his playing career at Chesterfield but he focused more on the coaching side and was just seen as backup and there just in case he was needed. He did in the end play four times for the club meaning that he ended his career with 566 appearances and one goal.

The final word can go to Brian Laws. “I know Mark well, he’s experienced and a good organiser. He brings a work ethic and a calming influence to the team and is also a good passer of the ball.”