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 :)

File Under: callowbrook / crewe / dandan / football

Another Town, Another Train

Posted on 23rd May 2007

Crewe Alexandra FC

Crewe Alexandra FC

Dario Gradio is the longest serving manager in English league football. In fact he's possibly the longest serving football manager in the world. On July 1 2007, he plans to hand over the reigns of Crewe Alexandra to the first team coach, Steve Holland, after 24 years as manager. Dario isn't leaving the club, as he will take on the role of Technical Director, but he will be missed as he's made a significant impact on the club and fans, even rivals, and will leave a lot to live up to, with an amazing legacy that will be a long time before anyone equals or betters it.

From the age of 11, I went to Crewe County Grammar School on Ruskin Road (now a comprehensive), and passed Gresty Road on the bus to and from school for 5 years. During the 70s the club was the butt of several jokes, as they were always struggling near the bottom of the fourth division. I can remember a few times when they were fighting relegation into the Conference League. I left Crewe in 1982, a year before Dario took over at the club. Partly because I missed the town and partly because I didn't feel any affliation to any club near Hinckley, my support of Crewe Alexandra grew. I've never been much of a football fan, but I did follow their exploits in the press and watch the games whenever they got televised, but I wasn't what you would call a die hard fan. For a while I was a member of the Alex Exiles, but never got to any of the meetings, as they mostly seem to congregate in London.

I still feel that my club is Crewe Alex, and even DanDan has answered Crewe Alex when he's been asked who he supports. The reaction is quite amusing, as he gets quite a lot of respect. That's mostly thanks to Dario Gradi, as he's been the longest serving manager for a good reason. He's given the Railwaymen a club to be proud of. Next time I go up to see friends in Crewe, I'm hoping to drop by the club shop and get DanDan some memorabillia. A 2006/7 strip would go down nicely, so he can wear it when he goes to football practice. Maybe I'll even get to take him to a game next season too ;)

File Under: crewe / football

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