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Story posted: Wednesday, 15th August 1990

Beating the title curse
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Motivation must surely be the biggest problem facing Gresley boss Frank Northwood and his backroom staff as Rovers stand on the threshold of yet another Banks’s League campaign.
Like it or not, the Moatmen now carry the mantle of nearly men, coming so close to the league title so many times but always falling a little bit short at the final hurdle.

Last year’s bitter disappointment of leading the table for most of the season only to fall away into third place after a nail-biting run-in must now be forgotten, though, and players and fans must face up to the prospects of fighting another campaign that many supporters feel the club is now too big for.

There have been no wholesale changes on the playing front: Northwood has kept the nucleus of last season’s side believing his players to be good enough to finish the job this time.

At an emotional annual dinner last May, Northwood declared the coming campaign would be his last as a manager. “We are all determined to win the league this time,” he promised.

That Gresley are good enough to win big games is not in doubt – three successive Derbyshire Senior Cup wins are testimony to that.

But they must look back on a disastrous final 10 games of last season and aim for a higher level of consistency this time.

Northwood must also work to plug a few gaps. Striker Tracey Norton has departed to live in Devon and Northwood has yet to sign a replacement. Midfielder Mick Guest is another to move to pastures new.

A string of trialists have been put through their paces during the summer with the return of Andy Moore to the Moat Ground looking like Northwood’s best signing so far.

If Moore, who scored more than 20 goals for Blakenall last season, can chip in with a crucial it could make a crucial difference – especially if Northwood abandons last season’s ploy of playing three up front for a more conventional 4-4-2 system as pre-season line-up’s suggest.

Much depends, too, on the form of skipper Richard Denby. Denby, a target for Burton Albion last season, is Gresley’s kingpin but he was made to carry a lot of responsibility in a three-man midfield. Perhaps if the former Grantham and Corby Town midfielder John Chamberlain can click into gear alongside him Gresley will have more balance in that department. Neil Lovell, Steve Adcock and Moore giving options in the wide positions.

Options there are aplenty in defensive positions, although I suspect that Northwood has already decided that John Barry and Martin Dick will form his first choice full back pairing with Gil Land and Steve Astley carrying on in the centre in front of star keeper Bob Aston.
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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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