Jimmy Shields (Southampton & Northern Ireland)

John Treleven

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SHIELDS, Robert James (died January 2020, aged 88)

Born 26th September 1931 in Derry, Shields was a Northern Ireland youth international. He started with Londonderry Boys Club before beginning his professional career in Belfast with Crusaders in 1952 (22 goals) and was part of the Crusaders side which claimed their first major honour, the 1953 Ulster Cup. He was rewarded with an inter-league appearance and an amateur cap. He moved to England in March 1954 when was signed by Sunderland but failed to break into their first team.

In July 1956 he moved to the south coast to join Southampton for a fee of £1,000 which was funded by the Saints Supporters Club. He was the first signing of "Saints'" newly appointed manager Ted Bates. He was selected for the Northern Ireland team for a match against Scotland on 7th November 1956, which turned out to be his only full international.

He scored on his "Saints" debut in August 1956 and scored eleven goals in the opening twelve matches. The goals then dried up until a flurry of four in the final four matches. The Saints narrowly missed out on promotion from Division 3 South. A broken leg suffered in a reserve match in September 1957 resulted in Shields missing the entire 1957–58 season. He played just three times in 1958–59 before leaving Southampton (38 League & 5 Cup apps, 20 & 2 goals) for Headington (now Oxford) United of the Southern League in March 1959.

In 1961 he returned to the North East where he played for South Shields whilst resuming his original career as a joiner before going back to Ireland to play for Larne in the 1964-65 season.
 

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