Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Total Football Part 14

The news of Rocky Race reaching an agreement to become manager of Melboro' has not gone down well with some. Meanwhile Melchester Rovers are in good form and face Kelburn in the League Cup Semi-Final Second Leg...

Sunday, 21 August 2016

The Men of Castlemere Colliery Part 3

Castlemere Colliery AFC are in the Semi-Finals of the Amateur Cup and well clear at the top of the Northern League. Their success has not gone unnoticed, as local businessmen the Aldermans take an interest in the club...

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The Men of Castlemere Colliery Part 3
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The Men of Castlemere Colliery Part 3

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

1972/73 Season Review

After winning the double, Melchester Rovers embark on another European Cup adventure...

1972/73 Melchester Rovers season stats

Line-up:

1972/73 Melchester Rovers season line-up

Squad:
G- Morton, Baker
D - Baxter, Giles, Peak, Derry, Morris
M- Croydon, Gray, Trudgeon, Blackburn, Morris, Warner
F - Race, Eliot, Wallace, Ainsworth, Shaw

Transfers:
In - Mervyn Wallace (Cranville United)
Out - Chalky White, Chris Dylan, Eddie Eager (all released)

Saturday, 13 August 2016

The Men of Castlemere Colliery - Part 2

Part 2 of the story covering the amateur days of Castlemere football club. This week the Men of Castlemere Colliery face off against the giants of amateur football Sleeford Town, the current holders of the Amateur Cup and winners of the Southern League.

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The Men of Castlemere Colliery Part 2
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Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Season Review 1971/72

Melchester Rovers win the Double!

Melchester Rovers 1971/72 Double winning stats

Line-up:


Squad:
G - Morton, Hubbard
D - Baxter, Giles, Peak, Derry (singed from Westbank), Morris
M - Croydon, Ainsworth, Dylan, White, Blackburn
F - Race, West, Gray, Trudgeon, Eliot

Notes:
- Tactics were the prototype of Roy Race's favourite 4-3-3; full-backs were attacking and West and Eliot were more like traditional wingers or as Roy would later call them "flank forwards"
- Pre-season saw two events: a five-a-side championship and a Television Cup; Rovers won both

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Opponents No.15 - Melboro'

To borrow a modern football phrase, Melboro' have become Melchester Rovers' "noisy neighbours". Decades spent in the shadow of Britain's most successful football club, meant Melboro' fans always hated Rovers with a passion that wasn't really reciprocated.

Legendary Melboro' boss Andy Jackson
Like most soccer rivalries the intensity grew in the late 70s as tribalism replaced the general football community. No longer did fans enjoy matches every weekend attending local teams and having a favourite. Now, in Melchester you were a Red or a Blue and one man did more than most to feed the hate between the two clubs; legendary Melboro' manager Andy Jackson.

Jackson bleeds blue and expected his players to fight for his club, to make up for a lack of ability with heart and desire. Melboro', under Jackson, fought above their weight class; team spirit compensating for a lack of resources and investment.

Bill Bennett scores a brilliant long ranger (79/80)
Having never truly established themselves in the First Division, Andy Jackson created a legacy which began in the mid-70s with promotion. A team of few stars, 'Boro built from a solid base, Bill Bennett the classy sweeper led the side. Bennett played with a continental flair, a neat passer who often found himself on the scoresheet. Including a spectacular volley in the derby (left).

The balding defender would be the foundation of Melboro's success. Moulding a team of journeyman, without a genuine goal threat; Jackson's tactical nous led the Blues into Europe for the first time in their history with back to back UEFA Cup campaigns in 1977/78 and 1978/79. But one thing would continue to bug the great manager, his inability to defeat Roy Race and Melchester Rovers. Too often for his liking the River Mel Derby would end in heavy defeat (5-0 in 77/78 and 4-1 in 79/80) and a glut of Race goals.

But come 1980/81 - Jackson would have his revenge!

Geoff Giles had fallen out of favour at Rovers after the emergence of Vic Guthrie and Steve Naylor and was itching for a new challenge. Remarkably, Jackson pulled off one of the most shocking transfers ever, somehow persuading Race to break the unwritten rule of not transferring players between the two rivals. Giles signed for Melboro' along with Rovers' unsettled 'Super-Sub' Roger Dixon.

Geoff Giles the first Rovers and Boro' playerRoy would later admit that he had made an error letting Giles go as the England international found a new lease of life across the river. Jackson made Giles the attacking focus and new captain of his team, a role which he relished.

With Rovers struggling in the league, Giles destroyed his former club in the derby at Mel Park, scoring twice past debutant goalie Walter Williams. The Rovers fans were amazed at how their cast-off, defensive minded Giles dominated in an attacking midfield position. Boro' won 2-1 and Rovers were relegated later that season. For the third time in four seasons Melboro' finished above their great rivals, but of course Rovers had claimed the title in 1979/80, something Melboro' were still to achieve.

Roy Race of Walford nets vs Melboro' in change stripHowever, Geoff Giles' rejuvenation would prove the highlight of the next few years. Danefield United, Kingsbay, Carford City and Portdean proving too strong for Jackson's triers. From the highs of the late 70s, Melboro' were back in mid-table, behind big spenders Stambridge City, Highboro' United, Walford Rovers and resurgent Melchester and Blackport. Roy Race even had time during his brief spell at Walford to thrash Melboro' 7-1, scoring four times (1983/84). Andy Jackson was not amused!

Johnny Telford scores for Melboro'But his reign would go on for four more years.

Fittingly Rovers' second league match after the Basran Tragedy would be the derby. A match that began with solemn reflection soon turned into a blood and thunder derby. Jackson had his players and the crowd pumped up, the patched up Rovers couldn't handle them and a referee who melted in the hostile atmosphere. In a ding-dong battle Melboro' ran out 3-2 winners, Johnny Telford scoring for a side featuring new signing, Scottish striker John MacVay.

Viv Hamilton gives Boro' the lead (88/89)With Melboro' no closer to the league title Jackson left, with fiery young Walford boss Jack Cassidy chosen to replace him part-way through the 1988/89 season. In his first derby, Cassidy had the chance to write his name into history and relegate Melchester Rovers. But the young Rovers team fought back from an early Viv Hamilton goal to nick a 3-1 win and safety.

Livewire Billy Malcolm nets vs Rovers (92/93)Cassidy, however, was soon tossed aside, with the charismatic Ralph "Flash" Gordon seen by the board as the new Andy Jackson. Gordon was a firm believer in all-out-attacking football and played a fluid 4-2-4 system with defenders encouraged to charge forward. Crowds grew and a growing television audience appreciated the entertainment provided by Gordon's cavalier approach.

Dynamic forward Billy Malcolm provided the pace essential to the system, but again Boro' were still lacking in stars. However, Gordon had found some much needed consistency, guiding the club to top ten finishes in all three of his seasons in charge. Yet, while certainly an attractive side, Melboro' still could not find that extra something to challenge for trophies.

Ralph "Flash" Gordon, colourful managerRalph Gordon's reputation had grown, now regarded as one of the top bosses in the game, talked about in the media in the same breath as Rudi Marik, Derek Mason and Mario Tachi. And when Roy Race shockingly resigned as Melchester Rovers manager in October 1992, Flash was the only realistic applicant. Rovers had poached their boss and the Melboro' fans seemed set for another long period of watching their bitter rivals lifting cup after cup.

But, the first few years of Premiership football were anything but predictable. Two tragedies befell Melchester Rovers, both having a tremendous knock-on effect on fortunes across the river.

Firstly, Roy Race's helicopter crash, retirement and appointment as manager of AC Monza, left the Rovers without their talisman. Melboro' found themselves top dogs in the Midlands thanks to the decline of Rovers rather than their own improvements.

Penny Race's death in Italy, our second tragedy, sent Roy's son, Rocky, off the rails. The supremely talented, yet temperamental, forward had already scored the winner in the 1994 FA Cup Final, but was also immature and lacking self-control on the field. Midway through the 1995/96 season, days after his mother's death, Rocky was sent-off after striking former team-mate Matthew Croker. He wanted out and Melboro' provided that option.

Rocky Race nets the winner for Melboro' at Wembley In the eyes of their fans, Melboro' had gotten one over their old foes and in taking a Race, had they changed the balance of power forever? It would seem so! On his return to Mel Park in the 4th Round of the FA Cup (1996/97) Rocky would knock out his old club with his version of Racey's Rocket. Rocky's goals took them all the way to Wembley, where he scored a cracking overhead volley to win the Cup (right)!

Many spectacular goals followed, including a brilliant solo strike against his returned father's Rovers in 3rd Round of the League Cup (1997/98). But the discipline problems had never gone away and Rocky was sent-off for fighting with his captain Peter Beck, a situation deemed untenable by Beck, his manager and the board. It was the third red of his short career and as personal issues with his father subsided, Rocky returned to Mel Park in a swap deal for Craig Foster.
Craig Foster of Melboro'
By the end of that season, it seemed Boro' had the better of the deal, as Foster netted against his former club in the F.A. Cup Semi-Final to send Melboro' back to Wembley. Although their defence would end in disappointment, the Blues had a new hero and Craig Foster was well on his way to international honours.

Melboro' were not only competing with Rovers in the transfer market, now they were a genuine force on the field. Foster's signing critical in establishing them well and truly as more than just "noisy neighbours!"


Notes:
- For Melchester Rovers' main rivals there are very few players named
- I have not listed anything from Milboro' or Millborough above, although there is plenty of evidence to suggest they are the same teams
- Melboro' are never called Melborough Town in ROTR, but it is printed on the side of the stadium once. Melboro' Town also feature in Twisty in the Bullet comic.

List of players:
G - Kennedy
D - Baxter, Bill Bennett, Dawson, Ellson, Rogers
M - Peter Beck, Bishop, Britten, Geoff Giles, Viv Hamilton, Lacey, Johnny Telford, Thomas
F - Roger Dixon, Craig Foster, Ted Hedges, John MacVay, Billy Malcolm, Rocky Race

Monday, 25 July 2016

NEW The Men of Castlemere Colliery

In the early 60s, Castlemere FC were not the famous club they are today. Known as Castlemere Colliery Welfare AFC, the team played in the Northern League, the premier competition for amateur clubs in the North of England. Most of Cas's players were miners, tough and strong lads, but also talented footballers...
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Thursday, 14 July 2016

1970/71 Season Review

Matches:


Line-up:


Squad:
G - Morton, Scott
D - Millar, Cooper, Giles, Peak, Baxter
M - Croydon, Eager, Dylan, Meek
F - Race, West, Gray, Trudgeon, Eliot, White

Notes:
- Rovers win the Cup Winners Cup
- Rythoven Olympic are described as "unknown continentals" no country is given
- The formation is difficult to plot - the diagram above could easily be a wingless 4-4-2 similar to England's 1966 style: Morton; Millar, Giles, Peak, Cooper; West, Croydon, Trudgeon, Eliot; Race, Gray. However the full-backs rarely attack like Cohen and Wilson did.