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Story posted: Friday, 2nd July 2004

Belford signs
Dale Belford

Dale Belford

Goalkeeper Dale Belford has become the latest member of last season's squad to commit himself to Gresley Rovers for next season's debut campaign in the UniBond 1st Division.
Belford joined Rovers during the early part of last season from Atherstone and quickly established himself as the clubs first choice keeper replacing previous number one Mark Sheils in the Rovers goal.

Manager Gary Norton commenting on securing Belford's services for the coming season said: "Dale is one of the best keepers at this level and discussions to keep him here started well before the end of last season. We provisionally agreed a deal back then and it's just been a case of meeting up to discuss and finalise personal terms. He has a massive presence in the game and was wanted by a number of other clubs but from the off he stated that he wanted to stay here for the coming season. He's not only a superb keeper but has the mentality of a born winner which is something you cannot coach into a player. He's 38 now, but the fact that he trains like a fanatic means he's still got a couple of seasons left at this level and I'm delighted that he's committed himself to us for next season. He's a bit like a vintage wine in the fact that he seems to get better with age which is definitely something you couldn't say about his dress sense!!!"

Belford battled back against the odds after fearing he would never walk unaided after horrifically breaking his leg in a challenge six years ago. But after defying the doctors to play again he is relishing the prospect of life in the UniBond league for the first time ever. He is one of the elder statesmen in a young Gresley side and when Norton offered him another year at the Moat ground he jumped at the chance. "Gresley is a great club and I'd love to help them start the climb back up to bigger and better things. The switch across to the UniBond will see us playing a lot of new sides but I know the gaffer has set his sights high for the season. The top two go up and then there are the play offs and we have to be aiming to get into them at least but hopefully we'll be good enough to go up automatically"

Belford hopes to eventually go into management and has already had a couple of offers. But for the meantime he is content to help the youngsters at Gresley fulfill their potential and bring the club success. "We have a very youthful side" he said "But in Gary (Norton) and his backup team of Alan (Titterton) and Steve (Hinks) we have great coaches who the players respect and can learn a lot from."

Chairman Mark Evans commented that securing Dale's signature was an additional boost to a pre-season plan that was going well. "The lads have just started to return from their summer break and training is going well, the new signings have fitted in well and the atmosphere in the camp is such that it feels like we have been back together for weeks. Dale has great mental strength and an enormous amount of experience and knowledge, that can only benefit the Club and the younger players."
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  Team P GD Pts
10 Highgate United 29 -3 38
11 South Normanton Athletic 26 0 37
12 Worcester City 26 11 36
13 AFC Wulfunians 31 -6 36
14 Coventry Sphinx 25 -19 34
15 Tividale 23 -4 27
16 Haughmond 29 -29 26
17 Racing Club Warwick 24 -29 24
18 Lye Town 28 -31 18
19 Gresley 26 -22 16
20 Selston 25 -38 13

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