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Story posted: Sunday, 18th November 1990

Gresley dig in for promotion
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Gresley Rovers’ ground is one of those typical late 19th century sites hemmed in by miners’ cottages of an equally venerable age.
But there s nothing turn-of-the-century about what’s happening inside Moat Street.

By their standards, a hefty £50,000 has been spent over the last three years with one target in mind – Beazer League football.

Having been Banks’s League runners-up for the last two seasons, there’s naturally a buzz of excitement and anticipation in the air after marching to the top of the table again.

So will they make it third time lucky?

According to the club manager Frank Northwood: “No doubt we’ll be thereabouts. If we fail it won’t be for the want of trying.”

This is a predictably canny response from the 58-year-old Northwood who is a ‘wily old fox’.

Northwood was a Sunday league manager for 14 years before entering the Saturday scene at such outposts at Wolverhampton United and Malvern Town.

He did such a good job at both that it was ex-Derby County and England front man Roger Davis who recommended him for the Gresley post.

His solid, no-frills approach has obviously worked there, too.

Rovers went a mere 106 years in the Derbyshire Senior Cup before winning it on Northwood’s arrival three years ago.

Add the League Cup to that and it becomes pretty obvious that he knows how to motivate a team.

He describes his squad as ‘a happy lot’ being particularly strong on loyalty as most of the players have to travel considerable distances from all parts of the Midlands to train and play at Gresley.

So why doesn’t he recruit more locals? “From what I’ve seen, they’re not good enough,” he says simply.

Like everyone at Gresley, he is particularly sensitive to ground specifications needed for Beazer League football.

Patently, the side have the ability to finish in the top three and thus qualify for a Beazer inspection. But can they pass the test?

His direct view again: “After all the sweat and effort – and don’t forget the money – that’s gone into this place over the last couple of seasons, I think we’ll have to paint the grass green both sides if we don’t get approval this time.”

It’s a point picked up with fervour by club chairman Peter Hall. “We really have tried here in recent years,” he says. “There’s our new 200-seater stand and we’ve spent countless hours on the pitch because of its slope.

“But, really, that’s out of our hands because of subsidence (from mine workings) round here. Last season we put another 250 tons of soil down and this year we put a 1,000 yards of turf down and moved back the rails.”

He was full of praise for the work willingly carried out by everyone connected with the club, particularly officials Dennis Everitt and Peter Jenkinson who had steered through the erection of a new VIP lounge, another Beazer requirement.

“As a chairman I couldn’t have asked for more,” he says, “from volunteers to officials. Quite honestly, I think these South Derbyshire people are the nicest in the world.”

So now it’s down to the team again to strut their stuff.

And leading the determined charge is skipper Richard Denby, who has had nice offers to move elsewhere but has made Gresley his baby.

Top scorer Brian Beresford will be playing his part, too. He’s netted 12 goals so far despite missing five games.

Somehow, you have to believe that Gresley will make it this time. Certainly, no-one has tried harder.
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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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