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Story posted: Saturday, 18th August 2018

Gary Norton's Blog
Manager's Blog
Welcome to a new feature from Gresley FC this season in the guise of a monthly blog. The aim is that every few weeks myself or one of the management team will write up our ramblings for our supporters to read and hope you will find the content interesting and informative. Let me have any feedback at any of our game both positive or otherwise and also any topics or information you wish to see included or written about in any of our future blogs.

The dawn of another season is upon our great club and like most supporters involved with non league clubs we look ahead to the season with a mixture of excitement and trepidation as to what the season might bring.

After an eventful last season where the club spent much of it at the bottom of the Evo-Stik league the club's new chairman Mark Alflat and new first team management staff of Myself, Carl Slater, Jamie Barrett and John Williamson are looking forward to the campaign and hopeful the club can compete well in the re-arranged Northern Premier League Eastern division (formerly Southern).

The rearrangement of the league regions from North and South into East and West is designed to reduce overall travelling for most clubs but Gresley are one of those unfortunate ones who has seen their travel mileage increased which with it brings additional travelling and coach costs to away games to the club. Putting a positive spin on things it also brings an opportunity for us to travel to some new clubs we have never visited before which I know many of our supporters are looking forward to including the 200 mile or so trek up to Morpeth Town which will be our longest trip this season. (I’ve already got my pass out request in with Lisa for a possible stopover and team night out for that game!)

As discussed at Thursday nights fans forum the new commercial team set up just 3 months ago has been very busy engaging new and re engaging old sponsors and the reaction has been great helping the club through the difficult summer period and at the same time bringing the community back together. We have our supporters club re-energised and working closely with the club again which is really helping in creating a healthy, tight knit community environment we are all proud to be involved with.

Off the pitch much work has been undertaken by our hero volunteers to brighten up the Moat ground including local company Adient via Operations Manager Bryan McIntosh supplying labour and materials for many hours of work which the club are most grateful for. Bryan and his team from Adient will be guests at our first home game on Tuesday night against Stocksbridge Park Steels. The Moat ground looks as good as it’s done for a long time and further work is planned to brighten the “old lady” up in the coming weeks. Unfortunately the weather this summer and the complete lack of rain over several weeks has taken its toll on the playing surface and as recently as a week ago it resembled a desert rather than a football pitch. The very welcome downpours this week have helped it and it’s starting to improve giving our hard working volunteers at least some opportunity to work on improving it as best they can.

We have worked hard in the summer to be able to fund new kits for the coming season and have moved to local company TAG who will be our sole kit provider for all Gresley’s teams this coming season from u12s through to first team. The kit design came from a member of our supporters club and is a purposeful resemblance to the kits worn by the successful Rovers side of 1997 who won the Southern league title. Details of how supporters can order their replica shirts will be released in the coming days. We are looking forward to establishing a long and fruitful relationship with Tony and the team at TAG who have been providing many local teams with kits for a number of years.

On the playing side of things myself, Carl, Jamie and the team have put together a new squad which includes a blend of local youngsters and experienced campaigners at this level of football, many of whom have been persuaded back to the club having played here previously. In the time afforded to us since taking over putting together the squad we have has been a good achievement in my view and time will tell how we do this season.

The last addition to the squad is Callum Riddell who signed Evo-Stik forms a couple of weeks ago after a pre-season switch from Heanor Town. Unfortunately, Callum picked up a knee injury in our last pre-season game at Kidsgrove Athletic so it will be a while before we see him in action on the Most ground with the other members of the squad. Hopefully not too long!

Moving to our Reserve team and we are lucky to have retained the services of Todd Foster and Richard Jarvis as the joint management team this season. They have done a great job in winning the Midland League Reserve Division and cup double for the last two seasons but more importantly in putting together a squad of talented and committed local young players some of whom have made it into the current first team squad. I remember from my own experience as Reserve team Manager all those years ago how satisfying it was seeing lads progress into the first team and Todd and Jarv and done a great job in that respect.

Our Youth and u18 set up continues to grow from strength to strength under the leadership of Matt Toulson and I’ve personally been hugely impressed by the work that Matt and all involved in that side of things have been doing for the past few seasons.

I’m really looking forward to getting along to some junior games for all of our age groups in the coming weeks and months and can’t wait to see all of our teams playing in the exact same kit as our first team for the first time since that side of the club was set up. This was something Matt and I set out as a goal a few weeks back and is of course reliant on funding from our many sponsors to the junior teams and we have them to thank for their huge support at each age group to help us raise funds to order the new kits for the kids.

We have our August bank holiday Sunday fundraising game coming up on the 26th of this month. Hopefully a few faces from the old Rovers days and notably the 1991 Wembley and 1997 Southern league title side will be turning out on the moat ground once more. In addition we are “getting the band back together’ and many of the back to back title winning side from 2011 and 2012 will be turning out in our reunion game. We also have a supporters club game against Burton Albion to look forward to on the days and I for one can’t wait to see a few of our own on the pitch in a Gresley shirt - purely for entertainment purposes ;-). Please spread the word and get as many of your friends and family up to the game to help us raise some much needed funds for the club.

So, we are all set for the new season and I for one cannot wait. The buzz and positivity around the club and local community this last few months has been amazing and something I have not experienced before in my 20 years connected with Gresley. Although I had not ever planned on managing again I’m so appreciative of the board for offering me the opportunity once more and I can honestly say I’m looking forward to the season on and off the pitch more than any of my previous 10 in charge of the club.

If previous seasons are anything to go by we are in for another roller coaster ride of ups and downs. We of course look forward to the highs when they happen but the test of our new found community spirit will come when we experience the lows in terms of defeats or poor performances. We hope either don’t happen too often of course but they inevitably will and as a leader in my day job that’s when I learn most about my team - when things aren’t going well or as planned.

It’s exactly the same as a football manager and I will be able to see the grit and character we have in the squad both individually and collectively and hopefully our ability to stick together and get through those tough times when they come. I’m very much hoping we can have that same mentality off the pitch amongst our many supporters and others connected with the club. One thing is for certain and that’s we will all be giving 100% for the cause in the aim of trying to make our supporters proud once more. Slates, Baz or I won’t accept anything less from the lads than that.

Thanks for reading and keep an eye out for my next blog in a few weeks time.

Gresley FC Partners
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League Position
  Team P GD Pts
10 AFC Wulfunians 6 0 9
11 Racing Club Warwick 6 -1 8
12 Stourport Swifts 7 -2 8
13 Romulus 5 1 7
14 Coventry Sphinx 5 -5 7
15 Lye Town 8 -5 5
16 Haughmond 6 -8 5
17 Selston 6 -6 4
18 Highgate United 6 -2 3
19 Gresley 6 -7 2
20 Boldmere St Michaels 5 -9 1

Full Table

Forthcoming Fixtures
Sat, 21st Sep 2019, 3.00pm (Home)
Moldwell Plastics League Cup Round 1
Tue, 24th Sep 2019, 7.45pm (Home)
Lye Town
Sat, 28th Sep 2019, 3.00pm (Home)
Highgate United
Sat, 5th Oct 2019, 3.00pm (Home)
FC Oswestry Town Action
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