A look back at the season our reserves team had, through the eyes of manager Dave Mackenzie…
As we speak/read this, the season has ground to a halt due to this horrendous virus and there will be no cup final and no chance of a league title or President’s Cup however as we stand and as far as I am aware we haven’t had any casualties and hopefully if people keep distancing themselves and stay indoors there will be light at the end of the tunnel and we can all look forward to carrying on again next season.
There is a lot to look forward to with the majority of the squad being under 21 they all have the chance at a decent footballing career ahead.
It’s almost nine months since our first training session at Allestree Rec and our first major setback. I got injured! We had 17 players and for one of the exercises we needed to work in three’s. It was a drill that I picked up from the Australian Sprint Coaching team – it basically involved throwing the ball five yards and following it to receive the next throw and rotating. I stood in a divot and went over on my ankle – the crack could be heard in Mickleover. What it meant is that I have not been able to join in anything as I still cannot kick a ball without pain in my right leg. The good news is that I have changed my Physio and she has given me different exercises so I should be good to go in June/July/August.
My inability, sorry disability, didn’t have much effect on the team (probably improved their chances) as the gaffer brought in Aaron Hayer to assist with coaching and running the team. After the last couple of years I would have taken Jim Fallon. Who?
Statistics are not the only way to judge a manager, but if they were, Dumbarton’s Jim Fallon would have an unmovable grip on the worst manager crown. The club’s 1995-96 record makes horrific reading: played 36, won three, drawn two, lost 31. Then consider that two of the wins came in the opening two games, before they appointed Fallon. A record of 0.147 points per match convinced the board he deserved another crack the following season. He’s now a physio. (That would have helped me more to be fair)
Aaron has been a tremendous asset with an infectious enthusiasm and excellent training sessions and he has a great thirst for learning – is absolute mince at substitutions but one slight fault aint bad!
We were also pleased to welcome Fran Fuller as secretary and I have to say that during this enforced rest I haven’t missed the 23 weekly e-mails. Again she has taken a load of work of me allowing me to do what I’m good at – the square root of ……… all!
And so to the season – if I get a few facts wrong or embellish a wee bit that is my prerogative.
We used 41 players in 26 (2 were abandoned. Was this an overspill from Hot Summer Nights?) Games. 7 of those however played in only one game. One of those was Kyle Lambert, remember him? Ex Notts Forest and Norwich. After he played for us in the League Cup we were EX that competition, as he needed to have been signed seven days before. We beat Linby’s first team 4 -1 and to be fair we could have done that without the lad.
The league season had a stuttering start due to a lack of fixtures but we soon clocked up five straight wins with 24 goals scored and four against. 12 points in the league and three points in the pointless, sorry, President’s Cup.
We then had a Phoenix Trophies Cup tie that had the most missed chances in a game that I can remember – we absolutely battered them so much so they wouldn’t have been out of place (plaice) sitting on the hot shelf in Toni’s Fish Bar. A 1-4 reversal was the final score. As the great Jimmy Greaves would say “Mines a Vodka”.
Like all good teams, after a loss you are desperate for the next game to bounce back. Well we didn’t quite bounce more boomeranged all the way to a 2-1 reversal at Cromford. Two big factors were the long ball tactics of Cromford and Wirksworth (unfair playing two teams. No?) and the fact that I was in Scotland at my works Christmas Dinner. Two successive years I have gone to that ‘do’ and 2 defeats, so pay attention people what does that tell you?
So being a good team the next game came sooner – on the Thursday, so we had the chance to bounce back, but along came Kyle Lambert (remember him?) We bounced out that cup too, due to me attending the Tony Shaw School of registering/playing players.
We then had to wait just over two weeks to get the real chance to bounce back properly and the opponents from Stapenhill FC set us a decent challenge which we took skelping them 5 – zero.
Next up was a double header against Long Eaton United whom we had played earlier in the season winning 2 – 0. They were probably the best footballing side we played so we had to be on it, to ensure we got through the Derbyshire Cup Tie and then the away league fixture.
In the cup tie we were down 2-0 at half time. I always say that 2 – 0 is a bad score – unless it’s you that’s winning 2 – 0. The team winning think the games won and as long as you score the next goal the momentum is then with you. We ran out 3-2 winners and LEU would probably be a tad aggrieved.
I have at least two other words of wisdom that players through the years may have heard, such as “the wind has never won a game of football” and “get the f’n ball back!”
The level of aggrievedness by LEU was raised a tad to tadderishly (Very tadded off) after the second league game played on their Astro pitch.
We had taken the lead with a well taken goal by Surf (was going to say that turned the Tide but that would have been a Fairy story) in fact after the goal they turned the screw on us and scored an excellent goal that flew into the net.
They continued to press and only an excellent defensive performance from Tom Eccleshall, Ben Lewin, Jack Smith and Elliot Murray backed up by the substantial frame of Kiran Sangeera kept the score at 1 -1 then Tom struck!
If the ball at their goal flew into the net, Tom Eccleshall’s shot was attached to an Exocet missile (Under 30’s check your history books). The keeper couldn’t even save it on the way out of the net, so that was then followed by two more from Aaron and Keir Sheppard, to give us what looked like a comfortable win but was anything but.
Next up were Melbourne Dynamo away, in the semis of the Derbyshire Cup. We have been in three out of the last four finals. This game was a re-run of the final two years ago and four years ago. On a very windy day the game ended 3 -3 (tell you the wind never wins a game) having done well to come back from 3 – 1 down.
After a good start we conceded two very soft goals and a very very soft goal. The wind blew the ball over Tyreece Robinson and then blew the ball to the side of Kiran, causing a fresh air swipe leaving the wind to blow the ball in the net.
We had Lewis Belgrave to thank for getting us back into the game and then equalising in the second ably assisted by young Clinton Morrison, with two excellent set ups.
In the penalty shootout that followed we invoked the “take it until you score” rule with Tom E missing two then scoring at the third attempt. Something to do with the keeper coming off his line I’m told. There were a couple of misses from both sides but we eventually went through 3 – 2 on penalties giving us another final to look forward to.
Back to the league and a win over Eeeenor before two reversals on the trot – they still hadn’t got the grasp of this bouncing back thing! A loss to FC Sez – what sort of name is that for a football team? Almost as bad as Primrose!!! was, followed by a day out to Bakewell and one of the worst refereeing decisions I’ve witnessed. Well I would have witnessed it if I hadn’t been picking up a water bottle for a wee swally.
I was reliably informed that one of their management then threw said ball 19 meters up the pitch and from that advantage point the ball was thrown to one of their players six yards the other side of the defence, but not offside, to run through and score what turned out to be the winner.
That result really got our gander up and we didn’t just bounce back we bonged, bonged and goosed the teams in the remaining matches in the league. 45 goals scored and six for the bad guys.
This was Aaron, Lewis and myself accepting the “team of the Quarter” award from a league official. This was a better picture than the last one taken for the same award last year. Lewis was in the pic but I so was Danny Davidson – never realised how small I was until then!
We were really hitting the heights as the award would testify. The only reverse was in the Floodlit Cup that had been abandoned (frigging band on the pitch again) after an assault on young Brodie Carter, that wasn’t even deemed a foul by the referee!
In the rearranged game (at Shirebrook) we played some great football and only the irreverent decision making by the referee and linesman kept Pinxton in the game until the game went to penalties.
Unfortunately this set of officials didn’t know the “take until you score rule” and we didn’t get to retake any of the three that we missed. It wasn’t all they forgot. After Elijah had been brought down just outside the box, both ref and linesman forgot who the assailant was and even asked the Pinxton players “Who dun it”?
If I had been a player I would have said it was me and when asked my name I would have said “only kidding”! The two games v Pinxton showed that we were more than capable of competing in the league above and each person that I spoke to after the game (including the ref/linesman) said the result was a travesty.
Anyway, back to the league and the run the lads put in was league winning quality which was helped by Bakewell’s 4 – 3 win against Long Eaton which put us clear at the top. During this period we had become residents at the Uni’ and as such this really benefited the way the lads play their football. On the deck, invariably through the middle, but with pace up top and with decent passers we have the ability to mix things up. An extremely pleasing aspect was the universal compliments the players got from the opposition on their performances. “Best team we have ever played,” was not an uncommon comment. Well done lads.
There were many quality performances, some outstanding and it would be unfair to highlight a single player. Several players are knocking on the door of the first team with Josh Satchwell, not only getting first team time but also going down to Coventry City for a weeks trial. The other youngsters from the Academy, Ben Lewin, Joe Hopkins, Brodie Carter and Elliot Murray showed up well plus Finlay Barker and Luke Quinn at 16 look very promising.
We have had the benefit of having several Derby Uni players with Lopes Massumpo being a great asset along with Lewis Belgrave and Tom Eccleshall, plus the likes of Juri Boula and Tomas Junek showing the quality that they have in abundance.
Keir Sheppard, was an unsung member of the team and a great linesman. Like I said I’m not going to mention one player, so I better finish with the guys outside the education system. Kiranpreet Sanghera was with us back when Dave Chambers had a pair of boots and Charlie Palmer was scaring the wits out of the under 19 midweek team at the time, Surafel (Surf) has got some great qualities and great feet, Fin Davies continues to be a first pick, Kyle Clarke is another who has great quality that saw him move to Dunkirk. He’s seen the film and fancied the beach. It was great to see wee Gus Williamson – not the quickest off the mark but when he gets going he devours the ground and like Biggles is great in the air – coming back after a bad ankle injury.
You may think that I’ve mentioned everyone but a special mention should be made for Talk Radio’s star performer – Mike Parry! Actually it’s Clinton Morrison – don’t know how he gets a job that involves talking – he even takes it into matches. He’s had discussions with referees, opponents, opponent’s bench, opponent’s fans and the occasional word of wisdom to team mates and management. What he does show is the simplicity of the game, the first time pass, because he’s a step or two ahead, the subtle change of direction or stopping to create space, the pace – ooops that’s going a bit too far!
One of the great things about Mickleover Sports is that the reserves have the opportunity to learn from, and pick the brains of some great ex pro’s the likes of Pablo, the gaffer, Rick and Clinton who are only too delighted to pass on tips and information that would help a players development. Use them guys!!
Finally, thanks again to Aaron, or as I call him now “goalscorer supreme” (His goal at Long Eaton was a fantastic piece of skill. Listening skill that is. I shouted for him to get away from where he was, somewhere at the far touchline, and get around the back post which he did, and when the ball also arrived, as I predicted, he finished with aplomb).
I wish everyone at the club, the committee, Gav and Sharon, Dan the groundsman, the supporters, the coaching staff and all the players and all your families a safe spring and summer and hope to see you all next season.
Mickleover Sports Club