The Evo-Stik League Northern Premier
Published 29th June 2012
.....signing Birmingham City `legend` and ex-Scotland international Paul Devlin for the forthcoming campaign.
The 40-year-old made over 500 Football League appearances for Watford, Sheffield United and Notts County, but made a massive impression at Birmingham, helping them into the Premier League and receiving ten Scottish caps during the pinnacle of his career.
The Blues stalwart gave up the Saturday game to concentrate on coaching children and his son’s football, but has been persuaded to play a cameo role in the Roms season by boss Richard Evans and coach Dave Barnett.
Devlin said: “I’ve known Richard and Dave a long time, especially Rich from my days at Tamworth when he was playing for Moor Green, so I said I would sign and help out.
“It’s very much a flexible agreement as I can’t commit to every match with coaching children and my lad playing football.
“I still love a game though, and I’ve kept myself pretty fit playing for mate’s teams and Brookvale in the in the over-35’s league as well as Blues old boys with Dave Barnett.
“If I didn’t have anything on at the weekends I’d have never given Saturday football up.”
By returning to the Saturday game, Devlin will be following in the footsteps of Steve Claridge, who scored twice for Gosport Borough to help them seal promotion from the same level as Romulus last season at the age of 46.
In the past, Claridge has referred to non-League players singling former professionals out for harsh treatment, but Devlin doesn’t seem too concerned about that side of the game. “You get that element on Sunday’s, but it’s not too bad – you get the odd one and they stand more chance of catching you as the legs don’t move as quickly as they used to!
“Historically, when I was coming through, the Northern Premier League was tough – I’ve not played in it for a long long time but there was always a bit more rough and tumble, though it is nothing I haven’t come across over the years."
The Roms endured a testing campaign in the league last season, but Devlin is convinced he can help turn fortunes around at Coles Lane.
“The main thing Richard Evans said to me was about the side’s decision making and managing to close a game out – they were an honest side last season but maybe lacked experience.
“With the budget at Romulus they have done fantastically well to stay in that league so hopefully I can go along and impart some experience.”
Evans added: “Paul’s mentality and knowing how to win a game will be good for our dressing room – he is of the same breed as Dave Barnett, they are both winners.
“It is nice to have an international playing for you and it shows our young players that we are a club who want to improve their game by working with the best, rather than just playing and training for the sake of it.”