Category: First Team

Who Are We Playing This Season? #4

by Peter Scherer

Formed in 1929 Alvechurch FC have had a long history of success and only just missed out on promotion last season, finishing fifth in the SPL Central before losing out in the play-offs.

Manager Ian Long is in his second spell at the club, leaving after an original four-year spell to join Stourbridge, before returning to Lye Meadow in February 2020.

Long had also managed Tividale and during his playing career was at Willenhall, Blakenall, Oldbury Utd and Rushall Olympic.

They have a grass pitch and a current capacity of 3,000.

It would be expected that they will trying to retain the core of their 21/22 squad, but as yet no official player details have been announced.

Barwell FC are still in their infancy compared with most of the other clubs, only forming in 1992. They were NPL Division One South Champions in 2010/11, but had a difficult 21/22 finishing 19th and only just avoiding relegation.

They changed managers in May when Ian King took charge. He was a former Aston Villa and Stoke youth player, who also played for Nuneaton and VS Rugby among a number of teams in a varied career, which also took him to Australia.

He has managed Worcester City and Daventry, been assistant at Bromsgrove and was youth coach at Birmingham City.

Their UK Flooring Direct Kirkby Road Stadium has a 3G pitch and a capacity of 2,300.

Although like many they have yet to announce their squad for this year, they kick off their pre-season campaign on Saturday away to Sutton Coldfield Town.

Rushall Olympic are another team who made the play-offs last season after finishing fourth. Formed in 1951 their 3G pitch at Dales Lane is more familiar to some of the Sports squad, as the Academy won their ESPFA Regional and National titles there a couple of years ago.

It currently holds 1,990 is one of the closer grounds for us to visit.

Manager Ian McDonald has been busy in the transfer market, having recently signed midfielder Sam Mantom from Hemel Hempstead. He joined West Bromwich Albion as a youngster from Walsall’s academy and spent a number of years at the Hawthorns, before a spell in Iceland and returning to Walsall as club skipper.

He was previously at Rushall in 20/21 and was also an England Under 17’s player.

Former Stourbridge, Dudley, Lye Town, Bromsgrove. Sporting Khalsa, Tividale and Redditch striker Alex Cameron has also recently arrived, along with midfielder Jack Burgess from Sutton Coldfield.

Former Wolves junior defender Keith Lowe has over 200 league appearances under his belt and has arrived from Kidderminster after playing in last years National League Play-offs,

Midfielder Alex Fletcher came from Shrewsbury Academy and has been signed from Stafford Rangers, while McDonald has also secured the services of two experienced goalkeepers.

Jon Flatt has re-signed after joining the club from Scunthorpe in August 2019 and is an ex Wolves Junior, while Andy Wycherley is a new arrival from Halesowen. He was recently at Nantwich too, having started out at The News Saints in Wales.
They began their pre-season build with an away game at Dudley Town on July 9th.

Barker Gets Sky Blues Trial

by Peter Scherer

Mickleover FC Academy graduate Fin Barker is heading to Coventry City on a week’s trial.

The 18 year old striker made his first debut in the NPL at Matlock last season, but was a prolific scorer for the reserve side, scoring five in one game and four in another for a seasons tally of 30!

Everyone at Mickleover wishes Fin all the best in both this trial and for the future.

A New Short Sponsor for Sports

Thanks to Gregg Harrison of Captured Moments Photography for the sponsorship of the first team shorts for this season.

Gregg is a lifelong Derby supporter who runs his own photography business (, along with his partner Caroline, specialising in not only sports photography but wedding and equestrian events too.

Gregg first got involved with “The Sports” when he was invited along to take some action shots team shots and individual profile pictures.

The atmosphere at the game and the friendly reception given to us by the team at Mickleover led us to return as spectators.

Gregg told us today.

I am happy to be involved with the club not only as a supporter and season ticket holder but also now as a proud sponsor of the club shorts.

Neil Hadfield, Treasurer of the club said,

It’s great to have Gregg on board with us and we welcome the further support of any local business interests.

Who Are We Playing This Season? #3

by Peter Scherer

The origins of Nuneaton Borough go back to the late 1800’s. This will be their fourth season in the current league, following their relegation from National League North , having previously played in the Conference.

Their Liberty Way stadium holds 4,500 fans and is a grass pitch, but they finished a lowly 16th last season.

Manager Jimmy Ginnelly has been in charge since December 2018 and previously managed Barwell and Atherstone and has already been busy making a number of signings.

Striker Kane Richards has arrived from Basford, where he spent three years after joining them from Kidderminster. He started out as a Derby County junior.

Left back Jaden Charles is an ex Rams junior too, but has spent the last couple of years with Mansfield Town, though mainly out on loan. He was originally a loanee at Nuneaton too, but he has now moved permanently.

Ukraine born defender Chukwuemaka Beejer came from Belper in March last year and has now committed to another season with Nuneaton. He’s also played for Eastwood and Tamworth.

Midfielder Prince Mancinelli has arrived from Belper too, he played for Long Eaton, Radford and Basford.

Chris Lait is a striker or winger and has been signed from Halesowen, where he spent one year after arriving from Bromsgrove. He started off at Solihull but has played for a number of clubs in an 11 year career.

Cain Noble is another midfielder from Loughborough University, but he had spells at Hyde and Atherton previously.

Derby born Tyrell Waite is a third time returnee having signed from Coalville. He’s played for Ilkeston, Notts County, Kidderminster, Boston, Lincoln, Matlock and Tamworth too, as well as a spell in Sweden.

Striker Matty Stenson has been on Halifax’s books for the last two years, after starting out at Barwell. He has had numerous loan spells too.

Joe Magunda arrived in February from Stratford, but has recently signed a new contract. He was a Leicester City junior before plying his trade around the non-league clubs, which included six years at Brackley.

Skipper Scott McManus is another player to re-sign. The centre back was previously at Coalville, FC United, Crewe and Halifax and had a spell in Scotland with Stranraer.

Midfielder Ryan Beswick is another returnee, having come back from Tamworth. He started at Leicester City too, moving on via Redditch, Kings Lynn and Solihull.

St Ives Town, that’s the Cambridgeshire St Ives finished 14th last year, but have had a recent reshuffle in the coaching staff. Manager Ricky Marheineke has been in charge for eight years, but coach Jim Freeman is now his assistant, while former Welwyn boss Adam Fisher has joined as first team coach.

The clubs history goes back to 1887 and their home ground is at Westwood Road, with a 2,000 capacity and like Mickleover have a 3G pitch.

So far there haven’t been any announcements from the club about their squad for the forthcoming season.

Suffolk based Needham Market FC were 12th in last years Championship, but are another team yet to announce any of their squad for the forthcoming season. 

Manager Kevin Horlock is an ex Northern Ireland international who spent the majority of his career at Manchester City, making over 200 appearances.

He finished his playing career at Needham Market and returned to the club in a coaching role, before taking charge in February 2020 after a spell as Chatham manager. He is also assistant manager of the Northern Ireland Under 21’s.

Formed in 1919 their Bloomfields ground holds  2,250 and has a grass pitch.

Stourbridge are jointly managed by former club centre backs Leon Broadhurst and Stuart Pierpoint. Broadhurst had spent most of playing career at the club, but had a couple of years at Bromsgrove.

Pierpoint started at Halesowen before his career took him via Stafford, Nuneaton, Solihull Moors, Leamington, Brackley and Coalville, before returning to Stourbridge last October.

They have recently announced three signings, with Midfielder Calum Gittings joining from Leamington, having spent five years with them since signing from Telford. 

Joel Kettle is a centre back who has arrived from Bromsgrove, who he joined last summer from Nuneaton.

Finally young striker Harry Lewis is a product of their own youth scheme, and became part of the first-time squad last season.

Who Are We Playing This Season? #2

by Peter Scherer

Probably the best known of our forthcoming opponents are Rushden & Diamonds. Originally formed in 1992 by the combination of Rushden Town and Irthlingborough Diamonds, they gained football league status after winning the 2000/2001 Conference title.

Having won the Third Division title in 2002/3, they were relegated the following year and in 2006 returned to the Conference. But after five more years they were expelled  and went into Administration, before reforming into the team we see now, as part of the United Counties League Division One.

They just missed out on last years play-offs, after finishing sixth in the Southern Premier League Central. Their Hayden Road ground has a capacity of 2,956 and has a grass pitch.

Manager Andy Burgess was part of the Conference title winning team and is also a former Oxford Utd and Luton Town player, capped at England C level.

He has been manager at Rushden since February but started his managerial career with Sheffield Wednesday, Preston North End and Leeds Utd Women.

Assistant Chris Willmott is a local school teacher who played with Burgess at Oxford Utd, but also played league football for Luton and Wimbledon and has only recently joined the club.

There are no announcements from the team on the playing front so far.

Coalville Town will be one of our nearest neighbours and will be looking to continue the form that saw them third in the table last season.

Like Mickleover manager Andy Stevens has already announced four signings. Defender Elliot Putnam came in from Barwell last September on non-contact terms, but has now signed fully. He was also the scorer of last years goal of the season.

Striker Billy Kee is a former Northern Ireland Under 19 and 21 International and has recently extended his contract. A former Leicester City junior he played well over 450 games for Accrington Stanley, Torquay, Burton, Scunthorpe and Mansfield scoring 141 goals, before arriving at Coalville in February 2020. He scored 17 goals last season.

Midfielder Andi Thanoj has recently arrived from Boston Utd. Albanian born he was a Grimsby Town Junior, who also played for Alfreton, Harrogate and Redditch before arriving at Boston.

Stevens has also signed 6ft 4in Irish keeper Paul White from last years Champions Peterborough Sports. He started out at Cork City before moving to England with Forest Green Rovers. He had joined Peterborough last November from St Ives Town.

Founded in 1929 they have a grass pitch at their Owen Street ground, which can house 2,500 fans.

From one of the nearest to one of the furthest of our new opponents, Leiston are over 180 miles away near the Suffolk coast.

Last season they finished seventh and Darren Eadie has recently confirmed that keeper Sam Donkin, has re-signed, having joined the club back in November 2019 from Biggleswade and has recently signed brothers Rossi and Ryan Jarvis too.

Both former Norwich City players, defender Rossi was signed from Dereham Town and has also played for Torquay, Rotherham, Luton and Barnet, before three years at Lowestoft. He is an England Under 19 and C International.

Midfielder Ryan has played for England at Under 16,17 and 19 and came from Lowestoft too, his longer and varied career saw him make over 400 league appearances which included three years at  Leyton Orient, as well as spells at Colchester, Northampton, Kilmarnock, Notts County, Walsall, Torquay and York City.

Formed back in 1880 their Victory Road ground has a grass pitch and can hold a crowd of 2,350, and last season they finished seventh in the table.

Stratford Town not surprisingly are called the Bards. They were formed in 1941 and have a grass pitch at their Knights Lane ground, which has a 3,000 capacity. 

Their current manager is former Derby striker Dean Holdsworth who scored almost 200 goals in over 600 appearances in a long career, with the likes of Watford, Brentford, Wimbledon, Bolton and Coventry. His assistant is Gavin Hurren, former Gresley Rovers manager.

They have re-signed centre back Jack Turner, who came from Kettering last year. 

Kurtis Revan was winger from the clubs own Academy, after playing his junior football at Derby. He has now rejoined for this season after spells at Oadby, Leamington, King Lynn, Redditch and Rugby.

New signing Lucas Powell is a wing back or midfielder signed from Barwell, after starting out as Birmingham City Junior. He played at Gresley too under Gavin Hurren.

They were 13th last season so will be hoping for improvement.

Top Scorer Dales Staying On

by Peter Scherer (Photo: Sarah Middleton)

Last seasons leading scorer Andy Dales is the latest player to pen to paper for Mickleover and the forthcoming season. The former Derby County Junior is in his second spell at the Don Amott Arena, after joining Scunthorpe Utd following a successful 2017/18 season when he scored 23 goals in Sports colours.

I’m delighted to sign another year at Mickleover. The club really is heading in the right direction, and I think we will have a great chance this year. The coaching staff here are the best you’re going to get and that can only help me improve more as a player.

said Dale.

The 27 year old pacey attacking midfielder was also loaned out to Dundee and Hamilton Academicals before returning to Mickleover for the 20/21 season and is capped at England C level.

Delighted to announce that we have retained Andy for the upcoming 2022/23 season. In my opinion he is a player who can still play in the football league. Bundles of ability and I am really looking forward to working closely with again this coming season.

added gaffer John McGrath.

Hedge Re-Signs for Sports

by Peter Scherer

Former Rotherham Junior goalkeeper Jonathan Hedge has re-signed for Mickleover FC for the 22/23 Southern Premier League Central season.

The 33 year old has also played at Halifax, Ossett, Harrogate and Cambridge Utd among others and joined Sports line-up from Sheffield FC for the second half of last season.

His is also an experienced goalkeeping coach, was capped at England C level and his leadership from the back played a major part in Mickleover’s climb up the table.

I’ve really enjoyed my time at the club since joining at Christmas. It’s a good club that’s run by good people. We have a great group of lads and it was an easy decision for me to stay. Hopefully this coming season we can continue our fine form that we showed towards the end of last season

said Hedge.

Hedgey played an integral part I our great form towards the end of the season. He has been a really important singing for us and I am delighted that he has committed to another season with us. He is a leader and a winner and sets our standards both on the pitch and in the dressing room.

added Sports gaffer John McGrath.

Who Are We Playing This Season? – Part One

by Peter Scherer

Over the next weeks we are going to take a look at the teams we will be visiting and hosting this season, starting with the teams, who like Mickleover are new to the Southern Premier League Central Division.

Formed in 1900 Basford United are also moving from the Northern Premier League, a team well known to us over recent seasons. Last year we lost at home to them in the league and FA Cup, before a late season away win.

They had a difficult year overall however finishing down in 20th place, only surviving relegation by two points. Manager Mark Clifford and assistant Dave Frecklington have already started adding to their squad, with 6ft plus defenders Brad McGowan joining from Peterborough Sports and Stern Irvine from Notts County.

Former Northern Irish international midfielder had been signed from Ilkeston and striker Anthony Dwyer from Nuneaton.

Last season’s regulars Declan Dunn and Owen Betts have also re-signed along with Academy graduate Wayne Hinds.

Like Mickleover they have a 3G pitch at Greenwich Avenue and a ground capacity of 1,600.

Kings Langley were formed in 1886 and are also new to the Central Division, after moving sideways from the Southern Division. Like Basford the Hertfordshire based team only just missed relegation, after finishing 20th.

Manager Chris Cummins was in charge last year, having joined them from Reading Under 21’s in late 2019. He has also been Academy manager at Luton Town, assistant at Watford and been in charge at Toronto in Canada.

Although it’s assumed that a team rebuild will be in progress, no news appears to coming from the club at present about their squad.

Their Orbital Fasteners Stadium has a grass pitch and holds 1,900.

Bedford Town are the third of the four newcomers, having been promoted as Champions from the Southern League Division 1 Central.

Manager Gary Setchell joined the club in September 2020. He won the Conference and League Two titles as a player with Rushden & Diamonds and has previously managed Wisbech and Kings Lynn.

His assistant Darren Edey is an ex Peterborough Utd player and was assistant to Setchell at Wisbech.

They have already re-signed four of their title winning side, with goalkeeper Elliot Duffy, midfielder’s Hugh Alban-Jones and Drew Richardson and striker Connor Tomlinson, but not announced any newcomers yet.

Formed in 1908 they have a grass pitch at their Meadow Lane ground, holding 3,000 spectators.

Last of the newcomers are local rivals Ilkeston Town. Originally formed in 1892, they were re-launched in 2017 and were last seasons NPL Division One Midlands Champions and had been expecting to join Mickleover in the Northern Premier League.

Their New Manor ground can hold 3,029 and the local Derbies are eagerly awaited during the season.

Manager Mark Carruthers has been busy already building his squad. He has signed two centre backs, ex Cardiff and Burton centre back Ben Turner and 6ft 4in Marshall Wilcock, Montserrat international and ex Chesterfield, Stamford and Solihull Moors player, along with right back Kalern Thomas, ex Solihull and Coalville and former England Under 19 left back Ben O’Hanlon who’s played at Wolves, Darlington and Harrogate.

Former Forest striker Chris O’Grady has also played at Leicester, Sheffield Wednesday, Brighton and more recently Bolton Wanderers, and will joined up front by ex Northern Ireland International, Forest and Derby striker Jamie Ward.

Ex Rams and Burton keeper Saul Deeney has also signed permanently after completing last season on loan from Coalville.

Chettle Signs For Mickleover

by Peter Scherer, May 31st 2022

Mickleover FC manager John McGrath has added midfielder Callum Chettle to the squad for the forthcoming season, from near neighbours Basford Utd.

I’m  delighted to join Mickleover, the club is heading in the right direction and myself and the manager have spoken and agreed that it is the perfect move for me to keep progressing. The management team has a huge amount of experience and it’s something that will only help better myself during the course of next season. Can’t wait to get started and hopefully be right up there come the end of the season.

said Chettle.

Chettle had been at Basford since July 2019, during which time his father and ex Nottingham Forest star Steve was manager. He started out at Forest as a junior too, before joining Ilkeston at 15. He made 22 first team appearances during a spell at Peterborough Utd and has also played for Alfreton and been capped at England C level.

I am over delighted with the signing of Callum. He fits the mould of the dynamic midfielder we are looking for and he is also incredibly talented with the football. I had a very specific type of player in mind when doing my recruitment and Callum was top of that list. He has football league experience and having spoken to him at length over the last few weeks, he still harbours ambitions to again play as high as he can. I believe he has all the ability to be a football league player once again and it’s our job at Mickleover to make sure we give him the platform to do so.

McGrath added.


Mickleover FC: It’s All New For 2022

by Peter Scherer (Photo: Sarah Middleton)

It came as a surprise to many that 2021/22 was the final season for Mickleover FC as part of the Northern Premier League.

With neither of the previous two seasons completed due to Covid lockdowns and some teams going out business, the FA decided that a reshuffle was needed mainly around steps 3 & 4.

As well as Mickleover, fellow NPL side Basford Utd and newly promoted Ilkeston have all been placed in the Southern League Premier Division Central for next season.

Bedford are newcomers too, promoted as Division One Central Champions, along with Kings Langley who have moved from Premier South.

Although we now lose the local Derbies at Matlock, Belper and Stafford, a number of new localish clashes come to the fore, with Coalville and Barwell in Leicestershire, plus Tamworth, Nuneaton and Hednesford.

Gone are the long trips to Morpeth and South Shields, with numerous trips up the M6 North and we now look to Leiston Nr Ipswich as our furthest excursion, along with Kings Langley also in Suffolk and Hertfordshire based Hitchin and Royston.

The general concensus is that it’s a new challenge and bit of a journey into the unknown.

I’m OK with it, as there are pros and cons. New clubs, new grounds etc and exciting times. But there is a drawback as I knew most of the NPL teams, managers and players inside out, but I don’t know much about the Southern League,

said Mickleover manager John McGrath.

So it’s my job to prepare the lads for the new challenge in the Southern League.