It’s Back To The League

by Peter Scherer

Mickleover return to their league campaign tomorrow night, with a visit to strugglers Kettering Town, following there giant killing FA Trophy at Spennymoor.

Hopefully any knocks picked up last Saturday will have cleared and gaffer John McGrath will have a full squad to choose from.

Relegated from the National League North, its been a tough start for the Poppies, who are currently managerless after Andy Leese was dismissed.

Ben Watts and Jim La Masurier are currently looking after team affairs, but have yet to take charge in a league game.

They went down 1-3 at Coalville in their last game, but were winners when Royston visited Latimer Park at the beginning of the month, their only home win this season.

First choice keeper Bill Johnson came from Braintree pre-season. A former Norwich City Junior, he was loaned to Lowestoft and Braintree, before a permanent move to Stevenage on his release. He has returned to Braintree on numerous occasions, after spells at Gloucester City and Leiston too.

His deputy is Nial Shackleton, signed pre-season from Wellingborough Whitworth, having previously played for Rugby Borough,

Right back Owen Cochrane is currently on loan from Stevenage. He also been loaned out to Potters Bar and has made one League Two appearance for his host team.

Skipper Lewis White is a centre back that started with Shepshed Dynamo. He then spent almost two years at Corby before joining our hosts for the start of last season. He had a spell with Coventry City as a youngster and also played for Oadby Owls.

Kelvin Langmead was a pre-season arrival, but brought with him vast experience of 400 mainly league two appearances. Initially a Junior at Preston North End, he had loan spells at Tamworth, Carlisle and Kidderminster, before signing for Shrewsbury on his release. Peterborough, Northampton and Ebbsfleet followed, before a loan back at Kidderminster preceded a move to Nuneaton.

After two season he spent a year each at Harrogate and Brackley, before becoming a Poppy after three years with Banbury.

Central midfielder Harry Reilly started his career in the US with Rio Red Storm, being loaned to Mississippi too. He returned to the UK with Stratford Town in August 2020, moving o to Daventry, before a year at Banbury preceded his arrival at Kettering in August 2022.

Dan Jarvis is a central midfielder too, having started off as a Stoke City Junior. He went to Wrexham on his release, before joining Gateshead in July 2022. He was loaned to Hereford too, before arriving at Kettering pre-season

Vastly experienced striker Leon Clarke arrived last month, having played over 500 senior games, across all four divisions of the football league, scoring 153 goals.

He was in and out of the Wolves Academy at the start of his career, along with spells at Kidderminster, QPR and Plymouth. Sheffield Wednesday, Oldham and Southend, before returning to QPR in 2010.

He was soon on the move again with a short spell at Preston before going back to QPR. Swindon, Chesterfield and Charlton followed, before being loaned to Crawley Town and Scunthorpe.

Following his release in 2013, he spent a year at Coventry, before going back to Wolves. But after a loan at Wigan he joined Bury, before a move to Sheffield Utd saw him loaned back to Wigan. Next it was Shrewsbury, Bristol Rovers, Hartlepool and Rushall Olympic, before his move to Latimer Park.

Fellow striker Tyrone Lewthwaite is a former Northern Ireland Under 19 International. He started his career with Watford and Rotherham, before going to Hampton & Richmond. He then moved on to Chesham, Beaconsfield and Aylesbury Utd, before joining Kettering in October 2022 after three months at Bedford.

Sam Bennett is another striker that arrived at the beginning of last season. He was a Cambridge Utd Junior, who was loaned to Mildenhall, before joining Yaxley Utd on his release in 2021. Soham was his next stop before a nine month stop at Wisbech, preceded his Poppies move.

Left back Ben Toseland was a Northampton Town Junior. He went to Peterborough Sports on his release, before spending 2 ½ years at St.Ives prior to his Kettering move in July 2022.

Rhys Sharpe is a left back too and former Northern Ireland Under 21 International, with League Two experience. He was a former Rams Academy player, but after a loan at Shrewsbury Town, he joined Notts County. He then had a short spell at Swindon, before going to Matlock Town, Tamworth and Nuneaton. He came to Kettering in November 2020 after a month at Stratford.

Right back and sometimes captain Gary Stohrer is the longest serving player, having arrived from Frickley Athletic in July 2017, having previously been at Shaw Lane.

Luca Purse is a defender who was signed pre-season. He has previously played for Cogenhoe United, Barton Rovers, Biggleswade Town, AFC Rushden & Diamonds U18s and is the son of Darren Purse, who played for Birmingham City and Cardiff City.

Former Sunderland Junior midfielder Tom Scott was on loan from the Black Cats last season. He briefly joined Banbury at the start of this season,  but soon made his move to Latimer Park.

Gedeon Okito is a left-back who came through the MK Dons U18’s Academy. He has played for Dunstable Town, Stratford Town and AFC Dunstable, before signing from Banbury pre-season.

Striker Will Mellors-Blair started off as Manchester Utd youngster, before moving onto Walsall. He then tried his luck in the US with Detroit City, where he became a prolific goal scorer. After his return to the UK he played for Solihull Moors, Kings Lynn, Stamford and Loughborough Dynamo, and came to Kettering pre-season.

Kieron Dawes is a recent signing from Stratford. A defender, he started out at Birmingham City and was loaned to Sutton Coldfield and Hednesford, before joining Coleshill on his release.

A return trip to Hednesford followed, before stops at Stafford Rangers and Redditch. He then moved onto Bromsgrove, before going to Stratford last February.

Midfielder Huw Dawson was another pre-season signing from St.Albans.

Josh Drain and Luca Miler have both come through the clubs own youth scheme.

Finally Nigerian Under 17 World Cup winning defender Habib Makanjuola is the latest addition to the squad. He played at Chelsea and Leicester, before going to Scunthorpe Utd, where he was also loaned out to Ilkeston and Gainsborough.

Kick off as usual is 7.45.

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