Turning back the clock for reunion

A handful of ex-professional footballers were among those turning back the clock at a Louth United Juniors reunion.

Together again! Pictured are former Louth United Junior players (from left): Barry Blanchard, Steve Hollingsworth, Stuart Norton, Paul Loftus, Dean Oglesby, Terry Donovan, Royce Wade, Paul Denison, Glenn Cockerill, Keith Jenkin, Paul Bartlett, Phil Bunch, Martin Smith.

Midfielder Glenn Cockerill - who played for teams such as Southampton, Sheffield United, Lincoln City, Leyton Orient and Fulham - returned to the town to meet up with former United teammates on Friday night.

Other members of the side who went on to earn a living from the game were Terry Donovan, who was on the books of Grimsby Town and Aston Villa, former Derby County man Paul Bartlett and Paul Denison, who played for Grimsby Town.

Bryan Klug, who turned out for Wimbledon, Chesterfield and Peterborough United, and who is currently head of the Ipswich Town Academy, was the fifth member of the team to go pro, but was unable to make the event, which was held at Waltham Windmill Golf Club.

“A lot of academies think it’s a success if they get one player into the first team these days,” reflected Terry, who scored twice as Aston Villa beat Valur 5-0 on their way to winning the 1981-82 European Cup.

“But this side managed to get five players to become professional footballers.

“That’s a big achievement when you think about it.

“Glenn Cockerill played almost 1,000 games for his clubs and the team produced five professionals who played at different levels, including in Europe.”

The young team were together from approximately 1973 to 1975, back when Louth United were one of the biggest non-league teams in the county.

And Terry - who also played twice for the Republic of Ireland - is adamant that being around the club at that time shaped those careers.

“I loved it at Louth,” he said. “The set-up was great. Louth and Brigg Town were the biggest non-league sides in the county.

“This was the first time some of us had seen each other in 40 years.”

Also present at the reunion were ex-teammates Barry Blanchard, Steve Hollingsworth, Stuart Norton, Paul Loftus, Dean Oglesby, Royce Wade, Keith Jenkin, Phil Bunch and Martin Smith.

Former manager Pete Smith, fondly remembered by the team, has passed away.