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Story posted: Friday, 10th November 1989

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Gresley coach Graham Fearn is breaking the soccer mould at the Moat Ground – with the Banks’s League title in mind.
Fearn revealed this week that he is in the process of revolutionising Rovers’ approach to the game.

And he warned: “It might not be pretty – but it’s the only way to win the title.”

Fearn, a vastly experienced midfield player who took over as manager Frank Northwood’s right hand man following the departure of Steve Dolby to Burton Albion at the start of the season, explained: “We’ve got to change the way we play because of our record and reputation. I’ve already started preaching a new way of playing to the players, and so far things have gone very well.”

Fearn, 31, whose career took him from the Baseball Ground – where he was a reserve player during championship triumphs under Brian Clough and Dave Mackay – through the higher echelons of non-league football in a richly successful career, reckons he has the depth of knowledge and experience to go one better than his many and varied predecessors – and take Gresley to the much-coveted Banks’s League championship.

He said: “With every season that goes by Gresley are establishing themselves as the team to beat in this league.

“Every side, from our title rivals down to struggling teams, wants to do well against us. They come here with a defensive attitude and that means they’re very hard to break down. That’s why we’ve started to play a lot more ‘easy’ football, with more passing and less running with the ball.

“The thing is, when we’ve got the ball the opposition haven’t and that means they can’t score. There’s a sign in the dressing room at Derby County that Brian Clough put up. It says: ‘Giving the ball to the opposition is the biggest crime in football.’ That’s very true.

“More and more teams are going to come here and try and shut us out. We’ve got to keep possession not get frustration and be patient enough to break them down. It might not be pretty – but I’d appeal to the fans to be patient with us and get behind us. Without skilful players you can’t play possession football. But our players are the best in the league and they’re all good enough not to give the ball away.

“Football is all about angles and not giving the ball away and that’s something I emphasise before every game. I tell them there are 90 minutes in a game and at the end of the day the most important thing is getting a result. I don’t mind seeing the ball come all the way back from our frontrunners to the goalkeeper if it means we’re keeping possession.

“That’s got to be right – because if we don’t win we won’t get the title and that’s still our number one priority. Of course we’d like to play attractive football every week. But when sides come out intent on closing you down that just isn’t possible.

“But with our skill and ability it will all come through and I can promise the fans they will see good football. We’ve got one or two injury problems but we’ve got a good squad and some good lads coming through the reserves which is a sign of a stable club.

“But I must emphasise that I’m asking the players to be patient – and the fans must be patient too.”
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League Position
  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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