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Tributes paid to Doncaster football coach who gave Sam Allardyce his big break

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman

Tributes have been paid to following the death of a stalwart of the children's football scene in Doncaster who helped a string of players get their break in the game including manager Sam Allardyce.

Jack Coleman, who spent most of his life coaching and organising football, died earlier this month at the age of 89.

He was responsible for helping a number of footballers achieve professional status including ex-Doncaster Rovers stars Paul Raven, Steve Gaughan and Mark Rankine.

Mr Coleman was involved with the English Schools' Football Associaton for more than 50 years and worked across the country, helping to introduce youngsters to the beautiful game.

Born in Burnley in 1928, he attended Burnley Grammar School and St John’s College, York before becoming a teacher in Staffordshire.

He worked in the Wolverhampton area where for a time he taught at a deaf school, teaching himself sign language. He coached, trained and managed all age groups of boys and girls.

Friend Tony Credland said: "A number of players went on to become professional footballers, notably Sam Allardyce to whom Jack gave a lot of support when other teachers were less certain of his prospects."

The current Everton boss began his professional career after signing for Bolton Wanderers from Dudley Town in 1969.

Dave Rushbury was another of his many successes from the Midlands.

Jack moved to Doncaster and began teaching at Percy Jackson Grammar School - later becoming Adwick School - where he again helped spot future potential.

He helped coach the Doncaster Boys team to the English Trophy in 1985 for the only time with several of his players later moving into the professional ranks - Paul Raven, Steve Gaughan and Mark Rankine, who all played for Doncaster Rovers before moving onto other clubs.

Added Mr Credland: "Jack also enjoyed notable successes with the South Yorkshire county teams and was a tireless supporter of English Schools football.

"He was presented with an inscribed rose bowl by the English Schools FA for his services to schoolboy football but was never one for social occasions outside of the game.

"His generosity to Doncaster schools football is both humbling and impressive. He paid out of his own pocket for coaches to take his teams to away matches as Doncaster Schools FA was often strapped for cash.

"He also paid for individual trophies to his players on a regular basis and never asked or wanted reimbursement, continuing to support the association financially well into his retirement.

"He enjoyed and was proud of his former players who kept in touch with letters and Christmas cards to update him as to their progress in the professional game.

"For those that knew him, an inimitable recollection is answering the telephone to: “It is I, Jack”

"A true servant of the schoolboy game indeed."

Martin Duffield of the English Schools' FA said: "I knew Jack for 50 years.

"I have many fond memories of Jack and used to enjoy his Sunday morning calls where we caught up with news from Jack and Doncaster Schools and Jack caught up with all that was going on here in the Midlands

"He was a true servant of schools football over many years."

Pat Smith, another colleague from the world of schools' football added: "It was always a pleasure to meet Jack. He was tireless in his support of Schools Football.

"He spoke his mind but, at the same he had a sense of humour and acted for the person and for the spirit of the game."

The funeral service will take place on March 22 at 8.40am at Rose Hill Crematorium.