Sheffield Wednesday's top 30 players - Number 3

HITC Sport's countdown of the Owls' greatest ever players continues with Ernest Blenkinsop.

"I found the first tackle a full-back ever made on me in a game was usually the hardest as he tried to unnerve me for the remainder of the match," wrote Sir Stanley Matthews in his autobiography.

"Ernie Blenkinsop, who played for Sheffield Wednesday and later captained Liverpool, would do this. His first tackle could be a bone crusher if you weren’t careful and as we both came out of it he’d say, ‘That’s just to let you know I’m here’.

"As if I needed reminding, and this from a player who had been spotted playing for his local church team in Yorkshire."

Born in the mining village of Cudworth, near Barnsley, Blenkinsop, almost inevitably, was down in the pits from the age of 13. On one occasion, he cheated death by throwing himself to the ground as the gallery roof caved in, covering him in debris that, he insists, would have killed him had he remained vertical.

But in 1921, while playing for Cudworth Village Club, Hull City offered Blenkinsop a way out - paying £100 and a barrel of beer for his services, according to LFC History.

A year later, though, Ernie was on his way back to South Yorkshire when Robert Brown, the Wednesday manager, spotted him playing as a forward for the Tigers' reserves.

But it was at left-back where Blenkinsop made his name at Hillsborough, with LFC History describing him as "very skilful; his positional play impeccable, and his delivery accurate".

In 1925, Blenkinsop helped Wednesday to the Second Division title, before establishing himself as one of the best players in the top flight. This was substantiated by his call up to the England national team in May 1928.

A year later, he was not only a regular for the Three Lions but a First Division champion too, as the Owls lifted the first of two consecutive league crowns.

Blenkinsop captained his country for the first time in 1931 and did so on four more occasions. His international career was somewhat remarkable, having stretched almost five years with not a single game missed. And Ernie's record of 26 consecutive caps has only once been bettered (by Munich victim Roger Byrne, whose run was cut short at 33).

With Wednesday slipping down the table, having finished third in each of their previous three campaigns, Blenkinsop was sold to Liverpool for £6,500 in April 1934 - to understandable derision.

Neither party's fortunes improved, with injury hampering Blenkinsop's spell at Anfield and prompting him to drop down two divisions to sign for Cardiff City in 1937, before ending his career (barring wartime appearances for Halifax Town and Bradford City) at Buxton two years later.

By then, Wednesday were back where he'd found them - stuck in the Second Division.

Sheffield Wednesday career: 1923-1934

Appearances: 424

Goals: 5

Honours: First Division, winner (1928-29, 1929-30); Second Division, winner (1924-25)

International career: 1928-1933

Caps: 26

Goals: 0

The countdown so far:Number 30, Number 29, Number 28, Number 27, Number 26, Number 25, Number 24, Number 23, Number 22, Number 21, Number 20, Number, 19, Number 18, Number 17, Number 16, Number 15, Number 14, Number 13, Number 12, Number 11, Number 10, Number 9, Number 8,Number 7, Number 6, Number 5, Number 4

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