Stuart Pearce, Longford and New Mills

in Other


So transfer deadline has come and gone once again, with rumoured big money deals turning out to be fairy stories replaced by the reality of Bournemouth signing a back up left back and Charlton bringing a couple in on loan. Where’s ‘Arry when you need him.

I paid less attention than usual to the window’s closure this month than usual, as for me the most interesting piece of business had already been done. As is often the case, non-league held the more intriguing stories, with one standing out above the rest.

England football legend Stuart Pearce is set to come out of retirement aged 53 in a bid to transform the fortunes of the worst football team in England (allegedly).

Longford, of the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League Division Two, have a record that a five-a-side team made up of the fattest accountants would blush at. In 18 games they have scored only once – and conceded 179 times, with their worst result a 0-17 home reverse against the mighty Bibury.

Pearce, who started his first playing career in non-league as well at Wealdstone, told the BBC: “I’m looking forward to working with manager Nick Dawe, and helping a group of talented young footballers achieve their dreams and, hopefully transforming both the dressing room confidence, as well as the on-the-pitch performance, and seeing how far they can go up the league.”

This transfer carried extra interest, not only because a former England international is going to be paying £5 subs for a game, but because it highlighted the fact there is actually a worse team in England than New Mills.

New Mills, who play in the eighth-tier Northern Premier League Division One North, had lost every game they had played this season. Every single one. In every league and cup. All 26 of them.

Until just over a week ago, when they snatched a 2-2 draw with Witton Albion, having led twice in front of 218 people. The report on the club website describes how, after Witton got their second equaliser on 64 minutes, it was “cue the 30 minutes of resolute defending.” I’m surprised the author was physically able to apply those two words to the team.

But all hats off to New Mills for their point, and to Longford for their endeavour, and to all other teams who, despite the regular wallopings, continue to turn out every week.

Football, for me, is not about the big trophies and winning every week, it is about the clubs that make up the numbers, play a game a week for the love of the sport, and take the beatings firmly on the chin. I say that mostly as I’ve played for a few of those teams. My chin is solid granite.

Praise must especially go to the fans of these teams. Who are these 218 people who went to see New Mills? Around 200 of them will be home fans. I would shake every one of their hands and buy them all a drink. 200 tap waters please barkeep.

by Matt Smith

matthew smith bnw profiler