Jeff Suddards

Jeff Suddards, who was the Lilywhites' captain when they lifted the Southern League Championship in 1963, was born at Bradford on January 17th, 1929.

Jeff Suddards receiving the Cambridge Professional Cup

A Bradford lad, Jeff as a schoolboy played for Bradford schoolboys team and later captained the Bradford Youths representative side. when he was sixteen he signed amateur forms for Hull City, who at that time were managed by one of the games most noted managers, Major Buckley, and played regularly as a centre half for the Hull City reserve team. When Major Buckley left Hull City for Leeds United, one of the first signings the Major made was Jeff. Again as an amateur.

The next call on Jeff's services came from His Majesty's Government and so he spent the next part of his life in the R.A.F. On leaving the Forces, Jeff signed as a professional for Bradford Park Avenue, he was then playing as a centre half, but after trials with the Club he settled down as a full back and made the position his own. This was in March 1949.

It was a full back that Jeff soon began to attract the bigger clubs and was in fact watched by the England Selectors who at that time were looking for a successor to Alf Ramsey as England full back, as Sir Alf was coming to the end of his international playing career. Bradford Park Avenue were playing in the Old Second Division and had stars such as Leon Luty, who they sold for £26,000, Billy Elliott who moved to Burnley for £26,000, Johnnie Downie who left for Manchester United for £18,000, Len Shackleton who joined to Newcastle for £13.000 and Geoff Walker who signed for Middlesborough for £11,000. Like many clubs, Bradford could not get enough money through the turnstiles to keep the club afloat and as a result were often forced to sell their best players. It was during this time that Sheffield Wednesday started to show an interest in Jeff and it was agreed that he could join them for £30,000, which would have been a record fee for a defender at the time. Alas, two days changed Jeff's future completely, as it was decided that before he should be allowed to sign for Sheffield Wednesday, he should play in the local derby against Bradford City. It was whilst playing in that match that Jeff received a nasty injury to his right knee, he went off for treatment before hobbling back onto the field. This was the end, one more hard tackle and his right knee was really damaged so much so that he was out of the game for over seven months. His absence gave a chance to another future Cambridge City captain, Gerry Baker, in the Bradford Park Avenue team.

Jeff fought to get fit again and was soon back in the Bradford team, he had his transfer fee reduced from £30,000 to £15,000 but no one would take a risk on him following his injury. However, wasn't finished and went on to play in 327 League matches for Bradford.

The 1963 Southern League Champions, Jeff back row second from left

At the beginning of the Lilywhites's second season as a professional club (1959, Jeff joined Cambridge City. He became a regular member of the side and was to have a spell as captain before fate once more played its part and an injury midway through the 1963-64 season ended Jeff's career. Having been forced to retire, he then became a football trainer. 

He was to die in his Norfolk home at the age of 83 in August 2012.

This article has been taken mainly from the Cambridge City programme for the match with Rugby Town on August 25th, 1964. Other information from the Rotheman's A-Z of Football League players.