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The Team of the Nineties Debate
By: Richard Hubbert
Town stalwarts Fred and Bert have been reading the "Played for the Town" section on the Fishy, and it's started them reminiscing about the "old days".
So then Bert, the 90's has flown by and now, under Lennie Lawrence, we start a brand new era into the next decade. It's all gone so fast! So, what do you say that before we start talking about next season, we take one final look back at the last 10 years, put some sort of all star 11 together?
Suits me Fred. But the two of us can't possibly put together a team for the 90s. It'd be impossible! All we'd do is argue.
Well, how about we have a good old chin wag about the whole thing, then let everyone else decide??
Good idea. So, I take it we start in goal then. Let me think??who did we have? There was Rhys Wilmott, Crichton, Davey Beasant, Sherwood and Aidan Davison. Oh yeah, and that Pearcey bloke, but we won't even consider him. Mmmm?.. my favourite has got to be Davison. Anyone who breaks a clean sheet record for the Mariners must be good. He was solid as a rock, and kept us in some important games, especially the Wembley games.
I agree. I personally admired Beasant for inspiring the team to 4 wins on the bounce back in 1992. But you must hold your hands up to Crichton. He did a pretty good job for a reject from Donny Rovers. Apart from, of course, that miss kick at Forest. He was also the only Town keeper to win the Player of the Year Award in the 90s. It really could be anyone. Including Stevie Sherwood?..
Yes, he was still knocking around then. He was our 1st choice until the 92/93 season, when he started to get slow. But before then he was very reassuring and good at coming out his area too.
Well, the next position is fairly easy. Right back has to be Macca surely?
Well, I suppose you could say Lawsy. You got to admit he did pretty well in those seasons he played in. So is young Butterfield, who is definitely one to watch.
Come off it Bert. Would Macca ever have gifted Wolves 2 goals on the opening day of the 96/97 season? Macca has got to be there. But how about left back eh? Whatever you say, Gallimore has done a pretty decent job to fill the hole left by Crofty. I mean, he is steady, and doesn't give the ball away too often. He's got a sweet left foot too.
But Crofty was so much more skilful. He was class. Look where he is now. Playing for Ipswich in the UEFA Cup. He was versatile too, unlike Gally, he only has a right foot to keep him upright, and that sometimes doesn't function properly after a Saturday night!
Yeah, but lets not forget old Jobbers. He was versatile too, and he never did much wrong wherever he played. And how about his loyalty to the Mariners? You don't see that much these days do you Bert?
No. They're not like they used to be. Players keep hopping from one to another every week. Talking of that, how about young Handyside? I see he's gone off to Stoke now. Doesn't seem a minute since he made his debut at Birmingham in the 92/93 season.
Now he's one I'd always have in my team. He was so cool on the ball. Admittedly, he was not as cool on the ball as the great Paul Futcher. Now he was a good player!
Let's not forget Lever though. 11 years he was at Town. He was a rock so many seasons in the backline. Especially in the Wembley season. - He was colossus. Pity we still haven't got him, but you never know he might be back one day.
One who will be back next season is young Tillson, although he is not so young now! He was yet another diamond that Buckley unearthed from the non-league. When we sold him, we got a good coup of money for him, Now he's captain of 1st division Walsall. I was always impressed when he pulled on the Town shirt.
Well, I preferred his replacement. Graham Rodger. Not every day do you have an FA Cup winner play for Town. He was very steady at the back, wouldn't give any striker much space, and he put his head where it hurt, getting a few goals too. It's a shame he retired. He might have had a good few years left in him.
Well I can't really choose, and it doesn't get easier. Who can you pick for right midfield?
I liked Gary Childs. He's another player who gave his all, he wouldn't be scared of any left back, even though some were twice as tall as him! As long as a man tries, I'll never criticise him, that's why I'm not Kevin Donovan's biggest fan. Sometimes, particularly last year and the year before that, he never seemed bothered.
How can you say that? He's the reason Town are in the first division. His 20 odd goals got us promoted, and his goal at Wembley wrapped it all up. Any man who scores at Wembley for Town deserves some credit. But you can't rule out young Johnny Oster either. He was very skilful for an 17 year old in the first division. Do you remember that goal at Sheffield Wednesday?
It was fantastic! The only happy bit of that day when we lost 7-1. He's in the Premiership now of course, after leaving for over a million.
So, what about the left flank? This is even harder. I personally like Gilbert and Black. They were very neat players, who had a good cross on them. Particularly Diddy, his goals sent us up into the old second division, and he kept on bagging the goals didn't he? Until Buckley nicked him. But Kingsley did well too.
Indeed he did. We all forget that equaliser at Wembley vs Bournemouth, but without that we would never have won. He was a very good player indeed. But how about Ivano? What can I say? He oozed class, it was such a shame that Mr Laws decided to throw a plate of chicken at him. It was never the same after that was it? But the feeling when he scored the goal to beat WBA in the 95/96 season. That was very satisfying.
So, to the all important engine room. Which two should we pick? One surely has to be Grovesy for the sheer number of games? he's played and important goals. But who else? Burnett? Cockers? Dobbin? And of course, Shaun Cunnington.
This is too close to call. I'd go for either Wayne or Cockers. They were crowd favourites, whose name was always on the scoresheet. I'll never forget that golden goal for as long as I live. Neither will I forget those two goals by Cockers at home in the 90/91 season to get us promoted into the old second division. The atmosphere that afternoon was terrific.
That's true, but Dobbin and Cunnington were equally as good. Cunnington was another crowd favourite who scored some cracking goals. He was a good footballer who read the game well. I'd always have him in my team just to keep the ball ticking. He gave little away. As for Dobbin, well he scored some crackers didn't he?
Certainly did. None more so than that one away at Newcastle in the 92/93 season, that ended their unbeaten home record. He scored some other great goals too. He was another very steady player, who was similar to Groves and Cunnington. Cockerill and Burnett were different. They had an element of class and power in their game, that's why I liked them.
So then. Only two left to choose. This is yet another close one! But this is the most important. Who will provide the goals? My favourite was Super Clive, of course. He banged them in (when he was fit) and got 20 goals that year we went down. What made him different was the way he could finish better than the rest of our forwards, and most of all, he could turn them easily. Another who was skilful in this way was Neil Woods.
Indeed, he could turn players too, getting a fair few goals along the way. He was playing up until the Wembley season and is still with us now as a coach I believe. But I prefer Livvo. His sheer presence makes him extremely valuable to Town this next season. Last season he was a rock and without him we would have gone down. His ability to hold off defenders and feed his strike partner made more goals than anyone else could make in our team. His personal goal tally is irrelevant. His presence makes all the difference.
Yeah, but what about the presence of Super Jack? He could fool defenders and referees alike! He was a problem for any defence and I would always have him on the bench at least. He would scurry around like a little whippet, sometimes getting lucky with a few goals for his efforts. He's another I was sad to see go. We could do with him now, to be honest.
Well, Bert I think that's it! All that's left is for you to decide?..
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