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Past Players

TONY SIMMONS

Tony has decided to call it a day at this level of football. He has been playing and coaching in senior non-league football since 1991 when he joined Lincoln United, then under the managership of Allen Crombie and playing in the Central Midlands League. He was signed from Holbeach United having fallen out with football two years earlier upon his release from Colin Murphy's Lincoln City.

His professional career began at Sheffield Wednesday where he progressed through the ranks to become Captain of the Youth Team and whilst still in the Youth Team he made his first team debut in front of a Hillsborough crowd in excess of 40,000. Having been regularly leading scorer in the Youth Team he soon came to the attention of the National side and he is the proud owner of 11 England Youth Caps. In all eleven games a young Tony Cottee was substitute. Unfortunately for Tony his mentor, Jackie Charlton left Wednesday for Newcastle and it was Charlton's recommendation that saw Tony sold to Terry Venables at Queens Park Rangers for £100,000. Similarly Venables left Rangers for bigger things and Tony was sent out on loan to Cardiff and Exeter before Rotherham paid a large fee to take him to Millmoor. He was leading scorer in Norman Hunter's 4th Division championship side for Rotherham and was then part of the deal which took John McGinley to Rotherham and brought Simmo to Lincoln City.

George Kerr who had been his Manager at Millmoor after Hunter brought him to Sincil Bank. Tony picked up an injury and new Manager Colin Murphy never believed that Simmo was injured and Tony became very much surplus to requirements. To be fair City's long-ball tactics in the Conference season would not have suited him but you still feel he would have scored twenty goals. Murphy's approach to the game disillusioned Tony and he decided to quit the game still in his early twenties.

It took Sunday league football to re-charge his batteries when the lads at the Wild Life, his local persuaded him to start again and pretty soon Holbeach United in the United Counties League persuaded him to sign. He was prolific for both sides and despite having Garry Goddard and Alfie Park up front Allen Crombie swooped to sign him. Initially he found it hard to break in mainly because he was cup-tied in the famous FA Cup run which ended at Leeds Road, Huddersfield. Most of his appearances in the first season were on the right hand side of midfield, where he still managed to be a regular scorer.

It was the following season with United promoted to the Northern Counties East when the forwards were Rick Ranshaw, Dean Dye, Garry Goddard and Simmo that Tony became leading scorer for the first time, a feat which would be repeated throughout the nineties right up to 1999-2000 when he left the club to join Grantham Town and his tally of eleven goals still saw him as United's top scorer. In that Northern Counties East First Division season United were crowned champions with Hucknall Town the runners-up, Simmo bagged 30 goals with Ranshaw notching 23, Dye 17 and Goddard 7 you can see why United were run-away leaders. That summer Allen Crombie was whisked away to Grantham Town and Garry Goddard became Manager with Ged Creane as his assistant. Simmons decided to stay and went on to score over 200 goals for the club up to 1999 when he finally moved on as John Wilkinson's assistant at Grantham.

He resisted approaches from many non-league sides over the nineties, including perhaps the most famous of that period, Rushden & Diamonds where he would have picked up massive money. Anyone n the North of England would also have bust the bank for this rarest of strikers. Along the way he not only picked up the leading scorer every season but many Players Player of the Year and Player of the Year Awards. He would be the first to admit that his partner through those seasons, Rick Ranshaw was a big part of that success.

In 1998 he passed Terry Nelson as the club's highest ever scorer, Terry who still works as a scout in the professional game was most gracious in his praise for Tony when the pair met at the clubs fiftieth anniversary function. Tony's kind is not about today and all at United wish him well in future. He is very much a family man which his prime reason for stepping down and we all hope to see them as often as possible at Ashby Avenue.

Where next?

Gary Crosby GARY CROSBY Gary Crosby began his senior career at Lincoln United. In his teenage years, he had b

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