It has become increasingly apparent to me over recent weeks that it is impossible to write this column without the featured side losing after a run of success. This week I have been having a look at the Under-15 A team who were in the middle of a nice little run of four victories on the trot. Until yesterday, when they went to a big state school called Cardinal Griffin and discovered the conditions were not conducive to their finely tuned passing game. The ‘rugged terrain’ (mud bath) saw the ball seldom reach its desired destination, the wind and rain did not help the fragile intellectual types that Mr Pridgeon prefers to select (they have to be able to cope with his sophisticated game plan); and the opposition were strong and good which was a further ‘fly in the ointment’. Despite losing 5-2, Mr Pridgeon was supportive of his players and considers them to be a hard working and pleasant bunch who have improved as the season has progressed.
In terms of their school development, it should be remembered that these lads have only been together for a season and have thus far been carefully nurtured - as we noted last week - by the caring and kindly Mr Tonks (Happy Birthday, old man). By the time they have reached the age of 15, it is deemed possible to let Paul Pridgeon loose on them. Paul, of course, is best known as a cricketer who played for Worcestershire from 1972-1989. I remember as a small boy watching him play on TV in the John Player League as I sat on my Grandpa’s knee and ‘wondered’ at his phenomenal hairstyle. In those halcyon days it was still possible for a professional cricketer to play football for a professional club too. In the winters Paul played centre half for Hereford, Kidderminster Harriers, but mainly Stourbridge FC. His uncompromising defending and no-nonsense approach would lead to many strikers leaving the game and his loyal fans lovingly called him the ‘Pridgenator’. He brings a certain steel to his coaching and demands hard work and physical toughness from his ‘little Pidgeons’, as he likes to call his teams. He has been joined by Richard Pike, who is an ex-Shrewsbury Town youth player and a UEFA B licence holder; (this means he is a properly qualified coach!). Richard brings the technical know-how to go with the more traditional style that epitomises Paul’s style of play.
I was lucky enough to watch the team at their best against Darland High School last week. A fine 8-1 victory included a penalty scored by Josh Malyon which I luckily managed to capture on film! And his proud grandfather was there to witness it, to boot.
Both coaches are pleased with their squad. The goal keeper is Patrick Jacobs, who continues the fine tradition of being a head case which is deemed a necessary requirement if you want to play in goal. The full backs are Charlie ‘hard man’ Lennox, Adam ‘sick note’ Aslam-Baskeyfield, or Olli ‘I can kick it further than anyone else’ Dixon. The big men in the middle of the defence are Kwaku ‘often goes missing David Ruiz style’ Antwi, Alex ‘the organiser’ Walton. In midfield there is Jonty ‘the crosser’ Schofield, and the engine room consists of George ‘why play one touch when I can have twenty’ Pearce, Josh ‘I love Pridge shouting at me’ Malyon, Angus ‘I talk complete drivel’ Drummond, Freddie ‘the flyer’ Huxley-Fielding and Daniel ‘I play the viola’ Orchard. Up front there is Alex ‘should have been a goalkeeper’ Webb, Charlie ‘goals galore’ Tait- Harris and Thomas ‘I love headers’ Tulloch.
Mr Pridgeon told me: “As you would expect, under my control – having been a cultured Franz Beckenbauer-type of defender – we play a controlled passing game similar to Brighton. I am pleased with the results so far and we are all looking forward to a reunion with Mr Clancy (last year’s under 14 A coach), when we visit Wolverhampton Grammar next Wednesday.” Lets hope Pridge’s ‘little Pidgeons’ can rule the roost!
Below: Josh Malyon scoring a penalty v Darland