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A-Z of West Midlands Football

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: July 28, 2014

  • Les Sealey

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Every professional football club has had, for many years now, a scouting system. Indeed, I have records showing that certain clubs engaged a scout (or scouts) in the early 1900s.

Many ex-players tend to enter the world of scouting and here are some of those who did the business for our five major League teams, for whom they once played:

• Aston Villa

Malcolm Beard, Don Dorman (Chief scout), Albert Evans (1950s), 'Sailor' Brown, Charlie Wallace and Peter Withe.

• Birmingham City

Also Beard plus Norman Bodell, Dorman and Mike Kelly.

• Walsall

Jack Bridgett, Ken Hodgkisson and goalkeeper Harry Wait.

• West Bromwich Albion

Ronnie Allen, also Tom Grimley, Bill Harris, Ken Hodgkisson, Roy Horobin, Bobby Hope, Stan Jones, Jesse Pennington, Arthur Perry, Harold Pearson, Bill Richardson, Reg Ryan, Teddy Sandford, Jack Sankey, Cecil Shaw, Lew Twigg and Brian Whitehouse.

• Wolves

John Harris, Albert Kay, Angus McLean, Charlie Phillips and Bill Shorthouse.

Other ex-West Midlands footballers who were engaged as scouts by other clubs include: (from WBA) Len Cantello, Andy King, George Lee, Jimmy Murphy, Walter Robbins, Bobby Robson, Maurice Setters, Colin Suggett, Gerry Summers, Graham Williams and Stuart Williams; (from Villa), Kenny Swain and Ron Wylie and (from Blues) Albert Lindon.

AUBREY SCRIVEN played outside-left for Birmingham between December 1923 and May 1927.

During his three-and-a-half years at St Andrew's he scored nine goals in 52 appearances.

Born in Cleobury Mortimer, Shropshire in July 1904, he was with Denaby United before Blues and later in his career he assisted Bradford City (signed for £400 in 1927), Bristol City, Worcester City and Brierley Hill Alliance, retiring during World War Two. Aubrey, who helped Bradford City win the Third Division (N) title in 1929, died circa 1998.

SCUNTHORPE UNITED, then of Division Four, fielded a certain Kevin Keegan when they drew 0-0 with West Bromwich Albion in a 3rd round FA Cup tie at The Hawthorns in January 1971.

The Baggies won the replay 3-1 at the Iron's former Old Show ground.

John Kaye was a goalscoring inside-forward with Scunthorpe before joining Albion for almost £45,000 in May 1963. 'Yorky' went on to net 54 goals in 361 games for the Baggies, gaining both League Cup and FA Cup winner's medals, before leaving The Hawthorns for Hull City in November 1971.

Others who starred for Scunthorpe and Albion include Jack Bannister, Wally Boyes, David Cork, Nathan Ellington, Tony Ford, Dave Gilbert, Paul Groves, Ian Hamilton, Geoff Horsfield, Joe Johnson, Dick Krzywicki, Brian Quailey, James Quinn, Crag Shakespeare and Imre Varadi.

Wolves stars Mark Atkins, Alan Birch, Joe Bonson, Roger Eli, Chris Iwelumo, Andy Keogh, Mick Matthews, Kevin McDonald, Harry Middleton and Geoff Sidebottom had a connection with the 'Iron'… likewise Villa's Martin Carruthers, Neil Cox, Steve Foster, Brian Godfrey, Tommy Johnson, Mark Lillis, Ian Ormondroyd, Sidebottom and John Woodward.

Players who served with Birmingham City and the 'Iron' include Gary Bull, John Gayle, Horsfield, Terry Lees, Marc North, Quinn (above) and Nicky Platnauer … while the links between Walsall and Scunthorpe are also Shakespeare, plus goalkeeper Ron Green.

Scunthorpe United players who became managers of West Midlands clubs include: Freddie Goodwin (Blues), Richard Money (Walsall) and Keith Burkinshaw (Albion).

And among the players who appeared for one or more of our five League clubs and later bossed Scunthorpe we have Ron Bradley (WBA) and Allan Clarke (Walsall) while Tony Ford (WBA) was caretaker-manager of the 'Iron'; for a short while.

JIMMY SEAL made one League appearance for Wolves before joining Barnsley in May 1971. Earlier in his last season at Molineux, he had two useful loan spells with Walsall, scoring 14 goals in 41 games.

Born in Pontefract in December 1950, Jimmy joined Wolves in 1966 and turned professional two years later, but failed to make an impact at the club. He signed for York City on leaving Wolves and went on to play for Darlington and Rochdale, retiring in 1982 with over 100 goals in 456 club appearances to his name, including a League record of 92 goals in 421 outings. He has since worked as a self-employed painter and decorator, and also as a milkman in York.

LES SEALEY was a fine goalkeeper who had an excellent career which spanned a total of 23 years, during which time he served with nine different League clubs and amassed a total of 568 senior appearances.

Born in Bethnal Green, London in September 1959, Les played, in turn, for Coventry City (nine seasons: 1974-83), Luton Town (signed for £120,000), Plymouth Argyle (on loan), Manchester United (also on loan), Aston Villa (from July 1991 to January 1993 – making 24 appearances), Coventry City again (this time on loan), Birmingham City (also on loan, October-December 1992 – having 15 outings), Manchester United (signed permanently from Villa), Blackpool, West Ham United, Leyton Orient and finally West Ham for a second time (November 1996-May 1997).

He remained at Upton Park as a coach until his tragic death in August 2001.

A real character, strong-willed, confident, aggressive, boisterous at times, even annoying with his shouting, he gained an FA Cup winner's medal with Manchester United (v. Crystal Palace) in 1990 and the following year collected a League Cup runner's-up medal.

He won the European Cup-winner's Cup when the Reds beat Barcelona.

He suffered a second League Cup final defeat when Villa beat United in the 1994 final. No international honours for Les, but plenty of memories.

Sadly, he died from a heart attack, aged 41.

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