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Grant Normington Watch
By: Chris Smith
I SAW Frickley last night who are featuring none other than Town starlet Grant Normington. The programme notes stated that Grant had an impressive home debut against Hucknall Town last Saturday where Frickley came from 2-0 down to win 4-2.
The match report noted that a cross from a Normington long ball almost resulted in a goal but his cross from the right a few minutes later was perfect for a Danny Walsh header to give them a 3-2 lead.
It was certainly nice to go to a game where the home support is keen on one of our players. The club shop folk told me Normington had been drafted in to cover for Lee Booth who is out at the moment with a serious injury. I was told Booth came from Leeds and had certainly noticed the difference between "namby pamby football" and the "at ‘em" approach at this level (Step 3 in the Pyramid). There is plenty of skill; the game is just played at a faster tempo.
The programme notes did pose a question that they couldn’t and I still can’t answer. It said that Frickley had two Grimsby players on loan many years ago, of whom one was Tommy Watson (September-October 1988, according to Mariner Men). John, one of the lads I normally stand next to, and a Blade, remembered Tommy. Apparently, the aim had been to toughen our players up.
I was hoping for a repeat of last season’s 3-0 gubbing of Ashton United (who used to be managed by Paul Futcher) especially given their 4-0 defeat at North Ferriby at the weekend. However, the first half was played at a slower tempo than I have been used to here and it was a 45 minutes of few chances. Grant did put an excellent cross into the Ashton area on about 5 minutes only for a Frickley player to just fail to connect. My normal position in the ground enabled me to get a good view of his play and he cleared everything that came his way with ease. It was good to see him take the ball down on his chest, turn and then calmly place the ball to a team mate on one occasion, instead of the wild swipes and hoofs I have seen from other Town players. Whilst I’d expect him to be more comfortable at this level, it was still a reassured performance given the number of first team appearances he has had in his career.
Grant’s blonde hair is easy to pick out even for me, and a corner taken by him around the half hour mark gave Frickley their best chance of scoring where two subsequent efforts were just cleared. During a lull in the play I was entertained by John recounting a visit to BP at a Town v Blades reserve match, and given his respect for AB decided to stand behind the dug-out to hear some sage comments from a manager he respected. Instead, he spent 90 minutes listening to AB and Steve Livingstone completely ignore the game whilst talking about their favourite cars. Non-stop apparently and just like kids. We also somehow got onto the book, The Blades Business Crew, where I said I couldn’t help noticing a proliferation of dodgy ‘tasches in the group shots. According to John, they were into goatees as well (unlike a farm trespasser near H*ll who was just into goats). I know some dubious gear was worn in the 1980s but I never heard of bum fluff being used to mark membership of a firm.
Anyway, back to the game. This sprang to life just before half time when a corner caused disarray in Frickley’s penalty area allowing Ashton’s Weston to score a very good header.
Half Time Frickley 0 Ashton 1
The second half was slow in getting going for Frickley and most of the next 45 minutes would be played with Frickley and Ashton playing directly in front of us (Frickley’s left and Ashton’s right). Normington was largely isolated with this play.
Nearly 70 minutes in and a Frickley corner was met perfectly for Groome to head in powerfully before running in front of the fans to celebrate wildly, although I couldn’t quite work out the routine. Bizarrely though, Frickley conceded a corner with ten minutes left for another Ashton header to give them the lead. This gave a statistic of three goals in the game, with three headers, all from corners. It didn’t look as though the home team were going to be able to come back from this, but the last five minutes saw them go close on several occasions, the best chance a shot that went a few inches wide.
Full Time Frickley 1 Ashton 2
Frickley were the form team in the Unibond Premier before last night with four wins and two draws but drop several places now. (The programme is a stattoes’ dream) Ashton go top with a negative goal difference, three points ahead of Boston United who play the following night.
We left the ground to the announcement of an attendance figure of 206 and that the man of the match was Grant Normington. Despite the disappointing result, Grant is making a good impression on loan. I think the experience will benefit both sides. Frickley are a good friendly club with appreciative fans and playing at a different tempo where the game is more physical can only help his game.
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