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Story posted: Friday, 21st September 2018

Gary Norton's Blog
Gary Norton's Monthly Blog
Hello all and thank you for reading my latest blog on all things Gresley FC.
Since my last blog on the eve of the season 5 weeks have passed but it seems more like 15! So much has happened on and off the pitch at the club and I really can’t believe how quickly the time has flown by since the start of the season.

Nine games in (7 league and 2 cup) our start to the season has been up and down to say the least. After a promising start in which we recovered well from an opening day defeat at Brighouse in terms of recording 2 wins and a draw in our next 3 league games I am disappointed with how it’s gone overall so far. The main reason for that is that we exited the FA Cup at the first hurdle against Sutton Coldifeld Town and we are currently on a run of 3 successive league defeats. That run was broken with a decent league cup performance in midweek but let’s not forget that Gainsborough Trinity brought there reserve team over so difficult to say we have turned the corner.

That said, after 4 league games we had accrued 7 points. The same tally took 13 games to achieve last season so comparatively speaking we have made a better start to the season than last year although would have of course liked to have had another 3 or 4 points on the board however as we know the last 3 games has seen us defeated 3 times!

Consistency in our performances both individually and collectively has been lacking so far this season and that’s and area we are trying to work on with the players. That and the need to ensure maximum effort and commitment is put into each and every game as a minimum regardless of the position we find ourselves in the game.

Off the pitch we had some very sad news in recent weeks that one of the club's long serving volunteers Dave Hackett had only a short time left to live as a result of his recent terminal illness diagnosis a few months back. His son Paul broke the news earlier in the month that his dad likely only had a few weeks left so our thoughts are obviously with Dave and all of the Hackett family at this most terrible of times. The charity fundraiser game we held at the start of the season was very well supported despite the weather and a sign of just how well respected Dave is in local footballing circles.

This month has not been good for this type of news. Only last week club legend and current player/assistant manager Carl Slater had the terrible news that Kerri ¿1/2¿1/2" his sister had passed away aged 46 and again the thoughts and support of the Gresley family are with Carl and all of his family and friends during this very sad time.

Both of the above sad stories put life in general and indeed football into perspective and certainly makes us appreciate the simple things we have in life in terms of our friends, family, health and well being and I’m sure that many of you who read this will fully agree with me on that score.

I’ve been really impressed with the continued activity of our supporters club since the season started. Efforts to continue to raise funds via a number of fronts continue and the relationship between supporters club and the club's board is as good as I’ve seen it over recent years. They deserve a huge amount of credit for what they are doing and despite a small minority of individuals involved with the club seemingly jibing or trying to undermine everything they try to do overall they are doing a great job and helping raise more money for the club than ever before. Well done lads.

Off the pitch we have taken a number of small steps forward during the season to date.

One of the things I’m really pleased about is that finally we have purchased our own ultrasound machine (refurbished) to enable us to treat injured players. In my 20 years with the club this is the first time we have owned an ultra sound machine and it will be a huge help in terms of us being able to better treat our injured players of all teams and speed up the return to playing action of our injured lads. We are blessed to have our new Physio John Newall at the club and lucky that John is fully trained in the use of ultra sound and other key pieces of equipment such as the club's defibrillator which we have just in case anyone at any of our games has the misfortune to fall ill whilst here at the Moat ground. John lives in Chesterfield and we are hugely lucky to have him at the club. He has settled in really well and the lads have really taken to him. He’s very popular in the dressing room and now we have proper equipment for his to treat all of the clubs players when needed he is very busy man on training nights and match days.

Talking of taking small steps forwards we are also looking into facilities we will need that will enable us to record and edit our games so that we can review and analyze our performances in order to help us identify individual improvement areas for the players and also collectively as a team. More and more teams are doing this sort of thing at our level of football and having the ability to be able to do this helps us gradually become more professional off the pitch ¿1/2¿1/2" within our limited means of course. I had conversation on this subject with a few members of the board a few weeks back but independently this week one of the supporters club mentioned it to me after watching the highlights from the Gainsborough game they recorded during our league cup game at the Moat Ground and asked if they could help us raised the funds needed for the equipment. Let’s see what develops in the coming weeks on that one.

Those of you who have paid a visit into the clubhouse over the last few weeks will have finally seen some new pictures and photos appear in there. Unbelievably after almost 10 years in existence there were very few photos of the Gresley FC era and this point was brought up by one of our regulars at a fans forum in the summer. We have now had a number of pictures from the past few seasons put up in there and have even had some shirts framed from ex-players who went via us to play in the football league. Aaron O’Connor donated a Grays Athletic shirt whilst Bryan Woodall ¿1/2¿1/2" now living in Australia ¿1/2¿1/2" donated a Dagenham and Redbridge shirt. We are in contact with Michael Nottingham who has also agreed to send us over a Blackpol shirt which when received we will display in the club. Hopefully supporters visiting the club will appreciate the efforts made to brighten the club up a little with a little of our recent history ¿1/2¿1/2" as proud as we are of the historical Rovers era and achievements (Vase final / Southern league winners) the club house needed it.

The standard of refereeing in football is always a popular topic of conversation amongst those involved with football regardless of the level you are involved at. Whether its International, Europe, Premier league,Football League or Non-League the hope is that standards are improved season over season so that officials get more decisions right. Technology is starting to play more and more of a prominent part in football at the highest level and I for one am pleased to see we are finally going this way. The use of technology in cricket and rugby has been around for quite a while and has actually in my view added to the occasion and experience.

For me, far too much is being made of the introduction of tech into football but the one thing I do agree with is that those supporters watching in the stadium need to be kept updated in terms of what’s going on ¿1/2¿1/2" as they are in rugby and cricket for example. Clearly there is a lot of expense involved in it and so it cant be introduced right down the pyramid but certainly Premier league clubs should have more technology as standard in a bid to ensure the correct decisions are being made more often than not.

Whilst on the subject of referees those at non-league level only get one chance to make the correct decision and I fully appreciate that. However, in the games I have been involved in so far this season I have been hugely disappointed with the general standard of officiating overall. That might be just my initial view and I have no tangible evidence to back that up but I’m hoping I am wrong of course. I’m not saying that any referees performance this season to date has cost us results or points but in a few games in particular (even those we have gotten points from) performances have left both benches in the game bemused at many of the decisions made. We are all human and make mistakes but the bit I don’t get is that even when officials know they have made an error many of them are far too arrogant to admit it. I have the upmost respect for a ref who makes an honest error in judgement but then holds his hands up to acknowledge that fact.

We have our fundraising day upcoming on Sunday 30th September and I’m hoping the weather is kind to us after we had to cancel our last attempt to hold it at the end of August. We have a number of things happening on the day but the highlights are our supporters club taking on their Burton Albion counterparts in a game that renews old rivalries from when Rovers and Albion used to go head to head in the late 90s. Lots has changed since of course but still nice for those old enough to recall the good old days when the two clubs battled it out in the same league.

The main event is the reunion game and we are hoping to attract a few old names from yesteryears successful Rovers and FC teams. I’m hoping our supporters will show up in numbers to help us raise some much needed funds.

On the subject of attendances I’ve been a little disappointed with our home attendances so far this season. Our opening home game was a midweek 3-3 thriller against Stocksbridge in which I was encouraged by an attendance of 278 - which was brilliant for a midweek game. That was disappointingly followed by a 223 for the 2-1 win over Tadcaster and then 250 for our game against Carlton Town - both Saturday games.

The vibe from many involved with the club in the summer was that with the changes made behind the scenes on the board and also on the management side of things with Slates, Baz and myself taking charge of the team - together with a more local squad including some local youngsters would hopefully lead to bigger attendances than we had previously seen. Not the case it seems so far. We will do our best to put in performances, effort and hopefully results worthy of our supporters and hope that this hard work pays off and we get a few more coming through the turnstiles. With my board of directors hat on any extra revenue we can make via bigger attendances or other fund raising income is vital for any club at our level. Let’s see what develops over the coming weeks on that side of things.

Hopefully, by the time I write my next blog in a few weeks results will have improved and we will be in a much more positive position in the table in comparison to where we are now (13th). Until then, thanks for taking the time to read and I hope to see you at one of our upcoming games soon.


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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

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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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