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Story posted: Friday, 22nd August 1986

Marvel of the Moat
Story courtesy of
A tidal wave of success that has carried Gresley Rovers from the brink relegation will sweep them into the new Banks’s League season as title favourites tomorrow.
When manager Frank Northwood arrived at the Moat little more than 18 months ago, the club was fearing Premier Division life.

Yet within a year Northwood’s magical touch had proved so effective Rovers were able to string together a 20-game unbeaten run to clinch runners-up spot last season.

There is no reason to suppose that the momentum will not be maintained in the new campaign, especially since Halesowen Town – the side which has devoured the title for the last four years – are now battling for honours in the Southern League Midlands Division.

Gresley have not only succeeded in retaining the players who served them so well last term, but Northwood in his own inimitable style has been able to recruit reinforcements, giving him a hugely talented first team squad of 17 or 18 players.

Paul Stringer, a winger with a rich non-league pedigree, has been drafted in along with defender John Bottomley and striker Martin Devaney, both of whom are expected to develop into players of the highest calibre.

Northwood’s most serious problem could be in persuading players to stay at Gresley for when his names his side for tomorrow’s opener against Chasetown at the Moat Ground a lot of good players are sure to be disappointed that they have failed to make the first team.

In that respect, Gresley’s decision to enter their reserve team in the Banks’s League Division Two could prove a positive step because players are likely to regard it as a more attractive proposition than the reserve section of the Central Midland’s League, from which the club was so ungraciously booted out at the end of last season.

Northwood is optimistic about Rovers’ chances, though he is reluctant to shout too loudly.

He said: “I feel I have a good squad of players and providing we can keep them together and avoid problems through injuries, then we should again do well. Our aim, of course, is to win the title because it is the club’s ambition to follow Halesowen into the Southern League. To win titles you have to have a big first-term pool and that is what we have aimed for. Just because a player isn’t selected for the first game, it doesn’t mean that he won’t have an important part to play at some stage in the season.”

Rarely has the future looked so rosy for Gresley.

Off -the-field there has been significant developments during the close season that should contribute to the overall well-being of the club.

Most important, perhaps, has been the development of fund-raising activities enabling Rovers to cast aside the financial shackles that have dogged their progress in past seasons.

The Moat Ground is looking spick and span, especially the lovely new stand erected by club officials during the close season to accommodate 110 fans in comfort.

That, of course, will prove a valuable asset should Rovers be in a position to apply for promotion to the Southern League next spring.
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League Position
  Team P GD Pts
12 Peterborough Sports 42 -8 51
13 Spalding United 42 -10 50
14 Loughborough Dynamo 42 -17 49
15 Sheffield FC 42 -19 45
16 Belper Town 42 -44 45
17 Gresley 42 -42 43
18 Kidsgrove Athletic 42 -20 42
19 Carlton Town 42 -10 41
20 Newcastle Town 42 -24 39
21 Market Drayton Town 42 -46 39
22 Romulus 42 -37 35

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