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A-Z of West Midlands Football

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: July 01, 2014

By Tony Matthews

  • Ron Saunders

  • Dean Saunders

  • Netan Sansara

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NETAN SANSARA, a 6ft 2in defender, was born in Walsall in August 1989 and after a spell with Darlaston, he joined the Saddlers in the summer of 2008.

He spent two years at The Bescot Stadium during which time he made 40 first-class appearances while winning one U19 and two U18 caps for England.

After leaving Walsall, in May 2010, he signed for the Scottish League club Dundee, and on moving back to the Midlands in 2011, he signed for AFC Teford United.

Later with PAEEK (Cyprus) and FC Vestsjaelland (Denmark), Netan teamed up with Boston United for the 2013-14 season.

* In January 2012, Netan was nominated for the Asian 'Player of the Year' award at the Asian Football Awards. The event, held at Wembley Stadium, was supported by 'Kick It Out' (Let's Kick Racism Out Of Football) and the Football Association. He was nominated alongside players such as Zesh Rehman and Michael Chopra.

In May 2013 Netan was crowned the British Indian Awards' Sports Personality of the Year after a season in Danish football – beating two England Test cricketers, Ravi Bopara and Monty Panesar, in the vote. Nice one.

SANTOS from Brazil, who included the great Pele in their line-up, played Aston Villa in a floodlit friendly at Villa Park in February 1972. A crowd of 54,437 saw a very entertaining game of football end in a surprise but deserved 2-1 win for the Villa.

KEN SATCHWELL was a useful utility forward, born in Birmingham in January 1940, who started his career as a 16 year-old with Coventry City with whom he stayed for almost five years, during which time he scored 21 goals in 68 League appearances.

In the summer of 1961 he joined Nuneaton Borough but returned to League football in January 1965 when he was transferred to Walsall. In his two-and-a-half year stay at Fellows Park he added a further seven goals to his tally in 57 outings before switching, in the summer of 1967, to Stourbridge where he ended his playing career in the early 1970s. Ken is a member of the former Coventry City Players' Association.

DEAN SAUNDERS had a wonderful career as a striker (an out-and-out centre-forward) which spanned nineteen years, from 1982 to 2001, during which time he scored 260 goals in 747 club appearances plus another 22 in 75 internationals for Wales. His record in League football was 190 goals in 618 games.

Born in South Wales in June 1964, Dean was certainly a high profile Premiership player during the 1990s with both Liverpool and Aston Villa, and he set a new British transfer record when he joined the Anfield club from Derby County in July 1991 for £2.9 million, switching to Villa Park for £2.3million fifteen months later.

Dean began his career with his hometown club, Swansea City, before going on to play, in turn, for Cardiff City (on loan), Brighton & Hove Albion, Oxford United, Derby, Liverpool, Villa (for three seasons to 1995), Galatasaray (in Turkey), Nottingham Forest, Sheffield United, Benfica (in Portugal) and Bradford City.

Honoured by Wales between 1986 and 2001, his international record for the principality was excellent – making him one of the nation's highest scoring and most capped players of all time … although Wales never qualified for any major international competitions while Saunders was playing for them.

He won the FA Cup with Liverpool in 1993, the League Cup with Villa two years later and the Turkish League title with Galatasaray in 1996.

Following his retirement from playing, Dean entered football coaching, initially with Blackburn Rovers (2002-04) and then Newcastle United (2004-06) and was assistant to Welsh team manager John Toshack for a while before taking charge of non-League side Wrexham in 2008. Since then he has bossed Doncaster Rovers (2011-13) and Wolves, for just four months in 2013; both appointments saw his clubs relegated from the Championship. He was a manager for 248 matches of which 95 resulted in wins, 67 in draws and 86 defeats

JOHN SAUNDERS was a hard-tackling defender, born in Newport, South Wales in October 1950 who played as an amateur for Birmingham City before joining his home town club Newport County in August 1969.

He made 27 League appearances for the Welsh side who sold him to Leeds United in July 1971. Unfortunately he failed to impress at Elland Road and after going fifteen months without a game, he was sold to Walsall in October 1972.

He went on to make well over 100 senior appearances for the Saddlers (99 in the League) before leaving Fellows Park at the end of the 1975-76 season.

RON SAUNDERS managed Aston Villa, Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion, as well as Norwich City and Manchester City.

Born in Birkenhead in November 1932, and now aged 82 and living in Solihull (and Spain), he was a centre-forward with Everton (1951-56), Tonbridge (1956-57), Gillingham (1957-58), Portsmouth (1958-64), Watford (1964-65) and Charlton Athletic (1965-67).

When he retired in 1967 his record in League football stood at 207 goals in 392 appearances.

His first managerial appointment was with Yeovil Town (1967-68), he then took charge of Oxford United (1969) and then bossed the big clubs, Norwich (1969-73), Manchester City (1973-74), Villa (1974-82), Blues (1982-86) and the Baggies (1986-87).

He led a trio of clubs – Norwich, Manchester City and Villa – to the League Cup final in successive seasons (1973-75), winning the trophy with Villa.

He did, however, guide the Canaries to promotion from Division Two and took Villa to the Football League title in 1981, before leaving when the claret and blues were already on their way to European Cup final glory in 1982.

Unfortunately he failed miserably as boss of both Blues and Albion … and not a single Baggies' supporter will ever forgive him for selling Tipton-born Steve Bull as well as Robbie Dennison, Andy Thompson and even Ally Robertson to Wolves during his time at The Hawthorns.

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