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It may not be related to the new club Gresley FC.
Story posted: Tuesday, 8th December 1992

Farewell to the little big man
Story courtesy of
Neil Lovell, who announced his departure from Gresley Rovers this week, will be missed as much off the pitch as on it.
He occupied a left-sided berth in Rovers midfield for several seasons and figured both in Gresley’s historic FA Vase run, four consecutive Derbyshire Senior Cup wins and two West Midlands League championships.

But the little man with a big heart was just as influential in the dressing room, where he played a major role developing the team spirit so crucial to Rovers’ unprecedented run of success under Frank Northwood.

The 34-year-old British Gas catering manager successfully rode his share of setbacks.

Legend has it that he once received a phone call from Northwood who asked: “Do you know any good left sided midfield players?” to which Lovell reportedly replied: “No, but I know some good managers.”

Until he lost his first team spot with the arrival of Tony Marsden from Grantham last summer, Lovell could not be ousted as a string of pretenders for his Number 11 shirt came and went.

Lovell had his fair share of critics on the terraces, too, but the midfielder, who in a career that led from Matlock Town, Eastwood Town and Sutton Town to Gresley amassed more honours than most players could ever dream of, could never be faulted for effort or stand accused of not being dedicated to the cause.

He was, and remains, a Rovers man through and through who insists: “Gresley is the best club I have played for.”

In a career packed with highlights Lovell would undoubtedly choose the Wembley appearance as one of, if not the best, especially the moment in the second half when thousands of Gresley fans stood to applaud him from the field as he was substituted.

For this observer, though, the most memorable moment was a 94th-minute equaliser in the Vase game at Knowsley, when Lovell drove home the goal that levelled the scores at 3-3 in a game that Rovers eventually won 5-4 after extra time.

The celebrations that victory sparked were inevitably led by Lovell, who fittingly earned a testimonial year this year along with colleagues Martin Dick and Paul Acklam.

So, while Lovell will be missed in a playing capacity for a while as he resumed his travels at Central Midlands League Sandiacre Town, he won’t be entirely missing from the Moat Ground scene in Rovers debut Beazer Homes season.
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