Last Of The Teenage Idols

Posted on 6th June 2008

Last weekend we took DanDan to the Grassroots Football Live event at the NEC in Birmingham. When we initially found out about the event we thought it would involve some dedicated training for his team, Callowbrook Swifts. We did think it was a bit odd that adults were charged more than children if the event was aimed at them. It wasn't until we got there we discovered it was actually more like a trade fair. As a trade fair it wasn't bad, and we did end up getting the usual compliment of freebies. DanDan was miffed that he didn't get a Mars football, but then he was the only one to get a England beanie hat.

There were several training sessions that you could sign up for, so in the afternoon, we did sign the boys up for a training session with some of the Leicester City coaches, and another later with a FIFA coach, but they were quite short sessions. Still the lads did seem to enjoy the day overall.

Nicole and I are not football fans really, so although many of the names I knew, I was mostly unphased by them. Graham Taylor, Harry Redknapp and Steve McClaren were there, together with several reportedly well know players, including a guy called Billy Wingrove. Now I have nothing against Billy, but all I could think of while I watched him was, well okay he can do some clever tricks, but is he any good on the field and can he score goals? I'd never heard of him, so figured he probably wasn't the next golden boy for England, however, on returning home I discovered that he doesn't play for any club, all he can do is tricks. As entertainment that's fine, but if you expect your opponent to sit there waiting for you to show off to the crowd, then I think you'll soon discover how useless your trick skills are worth. As such I found the attention put on him was largely misplaced.

For me there was one point that did interest me. I spotted that Dario Gradi was going to be presenting a train session, so went along to catch some of it. He was using the Alex youth team to highlight tactics, and was exactly the sort of thing that I was expecting from these sessions. After the session I did something I wouldn't normally do. I went and asked for his autograph. A couple of young lads had already asked him, as he stood on the sidelines afterwards, so I thought I'd take the opportunity too. I had a short chat with him, mentioning that I used to live near Crewe, and he was in good humour as we talk about how the place had changed. Funnily enough I moved away from Crewe the year Dario started his mangerial career at Crewe Alex.

All in all, an interesting day, and perhaps for older lads it would have been more beneficial, particularly the tactics and ball control training sessions. I'm not sure we'd go again, but I do think it was good for DanDan. Perhaps next year, we'll let his Nanny and Grandad take him as they're much more interested in football than we are :)

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