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Note that this page is from our Gresley Rovers archive.
It may not be related to the new club Gresley FC.
Story posted: Friday, 30th April 1993

Gresley: The rise and rise
Story courtesy of
They’re handing out plaudits in liberal doses at the Moat Ground this week, and quite rightly so.
Gresley Rovers’ achievement in winning promotion to the Beazer Premier Division at their first attempt probably ranks as the greatest in the club’s 110-year history.

One has to look back over many seasons to view the true scale of the triumph. Twenty years ago, the club was languishing in the doldrums, Great days had been and were long gone, the Moat Ground was quietly crumbling into disrepair, the team composed of players drawn mostly from local football and playing a standard that was little more than a step up from parks football.

It was a quantum leap when Rovers returned to regional soccer by joining the West Midlands League, but the notion of playing the second division of non-league football was a light year away.

The good years returned, and former manager Frank Northwood carved his niche in history by taking the club a step further in its development by turning the Moatmen into a force in the league, leading them to Wembley and to the doorstep of the Beazer Homes League.

But what has taken place over the last 12 months has overshadowed all those events and outshone even those great achievements. And it restores one’s belief in natural justice to know that they have been based on the greatest of soccer principles: faith in the team, and faith in playing football as it was always been meant to be played.

Principal purveyor of the good soccer word had been Steve Dolby, a man who has stuck to his task in spite of everything: the manager who kept his head while all around were losing theirs.

With the season reaching its final stages, with Rovers still in the FA Vase, Derbyshire Senior Cup and the chase for the title and in a seemingly healthy financial state as gates soared to new heights, I believe I expressed the views of many observers when I suggested more than once to Dolby that the time was surely right to go out into the transfer market and bring in possibly two or three players to bolster the squad at the crucial time.

The replies were always the same: “The squad is perfectly good enough, and we will only add to it when the right players of sufficient quality become available.”

In other words, Dolby was determined to show faith in his players. And by transmitting that faith to his squad they were able to respond by coming good at just the right time.

After the nightmare of defeat by Leicester United on Saturday, when it seemed that the club’s hopes of promotion were wrecked, the response was not made in words but in deeds: heroic deeds, as the Moatmen produced their finest performance of the season in the second half against Barri on Monday night, coming back from a goal down to clinch their most crucial result of the year.

It’s history already that Barri, surely devastated by that defeat, lost to Stourbridge on Wednesday evening while Gresley were securing promotion by winning at Hinckley Town. Dolby revealed his philosophy, not for the first time but perhaps more succinctly than before, when he said afterwards: “You do your work in the summer. We built up a squad of players that was good enough, and we stuck by them. Now we’ve got our reward.”

Dolby must now surely pick up the title of Beazer Midland manager-of-the-year. Notwithstanding the likelihood of Nuneaton’s winning the championship tomorrow, their current manager, John Barton, only took the Manor Park helm relatively recently, and his record during the promotion run-in does not match the Moat boss’s.

The powers that be will make their choice when they see fit, but I make mine now. Man of the season – Steve Dolby, for showing good faith in good principles, and for gaining just reward.

Plenty more deserve credit: assistant boss Malc Campion, the rock on which Dolby has based his principles; physio Gordon Ford whse enthusiasm is such that opposing fans are occasionally mistaken in their belief that he is the manager.

The players – everyone a hero from skipper Richard Denby, who saved his most inspirational performances in the games that really mattered, such as the victory at Nuneaton and the vital draw at Newport, more than made up for the occasional lapse that all goalkeepers are vulnerable to.

Striker Martin Devaney, Paul Acklam, Mike Taplin and, despite his lengthy absence, Keiron Smith, who have weighed in with the goals that led to glory; Stuart Evans, player of the season in my book and the most improved player too; Gil Land, who never gave less than was expected and more than once responded magnificently when his place in the team was in doubt; Martin Dick, who waited patiently when his opportunities were limited; Richard Wardle, Craig Weston and Scott Elliott, who ran and ran and kept running in pursuit of the Holy Grail of promotion.

Robbie Briscoe, now departed, who provided a vital early impetus; Dave Swainston who got into the side and could not be displaced; Tony Marsden, who went in where it hurt; Graeme Rigg, who proved his quality; Mark Hurst and Nathan Foster, who came late and contributed hugely; even youngsters like Ian Scott, Matt Smith and Lee Rippin and Christian Moore, who plugged the gaps, when they appeared, to give a glimpse of the depth of ability that bodes well for the future at the Moat Ground; every player, to a man, has done his bit, and a little bit more.

Off field, Rovers have been transformed – for the better, and the whole club can look to the future with confidence and expectation.

You tend to run thin on superlatives when you write about Gresley Rovers as the glory years roll by. But it’s been another great year – perhaps the greatest.
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League Position
  Team P GD Pts
2 Marske United 12 8 22
3 Brighouse Town 13 7 22
4 Lincoln United 13 4 21
5 Tadcaster Albion 12 6 19
6 Belper Town 12 0 19
7 Gresley 13 -10 19
8 Ossett United 12 6 18
9 Pontefract Collieries 12 3 18
10 Stamford AFC 12 3 17
11 Frickley Athletic 11 -5 16
12 Loughborough Dynamo 11 8 15

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