Linton Granta players Matt Crawley, Dale Archer and Collin Morice reflect on golden period for their local club
They were a golden generation who came together to play for their local team at just the right time.
But player-coach Matt Crawley believes a lot of credit for Linton Granta’s run of three straight titles at different levels in the Cambridgeshire County League (Kershaw), the first of which was a decade ago, should go to manager Adam Norton.
“Adam was so passionate about it and had us so well organised, that is why we did so well,” said the central midfielder who had returned from a spell at Haverhill Rovers to captain the team in that double-winning campaign of 2009/10.
“As a gaffer Adam was everything you needed to motivate you.
“He was also really knowledgeable about the other teams and not just reliant on us being good players. It was absolutely brilliant.
“When I was doing my UEFA B badge Adam said I could train the team. Everyone was as fit as a fiddle because I was on a right fitness mission then.”
Playing mainly in the number 10 role, Crawley was part of a fearsome front four that season, with Dale Archer and Andy Palmer either side of Luke Stanley.
The latter struck 37 goals in 32 appearances with Palmer netting 30 in 32, Archer 18 in 23 and Crawley 14 in 28.
Of Stanley, who went on to play in the Isthmian League with Soham Town Rangers before hanging up his boots before he was 30, Crawley said: “He was banging in the goals all the time and he was the best player I have played with.
“We had such a great balance, right from Nick Wilderspin at the back.Claky Green was an absolute machine in midfield and Joe George on the wing.
“As a team we just loved to get the ball down and play.”
Archer, who last week announced he is standing down from managing the club with Collin Morrice, said: “Andy Palmer was technically one of the best players I have played with.
“I played on the left and I was quick so a lot of the time I just ran down the line and put the ball into the box and Andy or Luke would score. It just all clicked.”
Archer recalled the crucial 1-1 draw at Soham United with three games to go which kept their three-point lead.
He said: “We had gone into that game knowing if we won it would kill off their challenge and it was a tight and tense affair.
“They were a bit of a bogey team and Clarky Green got sent off but then they got one sent off too.”
It was a Chris McNicholas goal which proved crucial in stopping Soham doing the double over them.
“We got our revenge over them in the cup final at the end of the season,” said Archer, referencing the the 3-1 victory in the Percy Oldham Memorial Cup final at Histon’s Glassworld Stadium.
Morrice was a teenage goalkeeper at the start of that successful period.
He said: “I always think about what a good team it was.
“It was pretty special for local football to have all those lads from the area in their early 20s together.
“The run from Senior B to winning the Kershaw Premier speaks for itself.”
Archer felt the side could have more than held their own at Step 6 or even Step 5 of the non-league pyramid, in the Eastern Counties (Thurlow Nunn) League. But in the end it was the ground regulations required for that level, being restricted by playing on the village recreation field, that prevented them being able to test that out.
“I still look back on it and think if only we could have gone on to the next level together,” he said.
“I think we could have even gone through another one to the Ridgeons Premier.”
More by this authorRussell Claydon
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