The View From The Afternoon
I’ve been wanting to write this piece for nearly a week now but haven’t had chance to get online. However last week I did something DCFC related, that I haven’t done for a good few years, that is take in a reserve game.
Back in the BBG days, I used to do loads of reserve games. The old central league was glorious and you could regularly take in games against Liverpool, Man Utd, Everton, Forest etc. In the really early days you’d see often see first teamers in the stand and various youth teamers (often led by Jossy) nipping to the shop/chippy at half time (imagine that now). Once I passed my driving test, we even started taking in the odd away game (Forest, Notts, Sheff U at Chesterfield, Rotherham etc). Good times!
Reserve games at Pride Park never seemed to have the same attraction as the central league at the BBG, then we ditched the reserves in favour of ‘behind closed doors friendlies’. By the time our reserves were resurrected as our ‘development squad’, the league had been heavily regionalised, the games were moved around Derbyshire (Burton to Alfreton and now to Belper) and, more recently, the games started kicking off at 2pm.
A few weeks ago I realised that the Forest at home reserve game was on sspaceram’s birthday, so we booked an afternoon off and took in the game. For those of you, like me, who haven’t taken in a reserve game for a while, I strongly recommend you get involved.
Belper’s a good little set up. Covered seats, great catering (fresh pies and pasties Mr Glick) cracking indoor bar and loads of parking. Obviously you’re right next to the action, and, although obvious, it’s a great perspective to hear the players shouting at each other and to hand the ball to Dave Martin to take a throw in. You see loads of lower league Phil Brownesque characters (shoes, trousers, nice coat, tan, plenty of product in hair) making notes and the odd A-lister if you’re lucky (Mr Savage and Peter Ridsdale at this one).
In terms of our players Ben Pringle was our captain and best player by a distance, Conor Doyle looked quality and Dave Martin showed a few flashes of good wingplay. In terms of some of the younger lads, Callum Ball has always looked small when he’s done his first team cameos, but he looked a big unit close up and did a good job playing the lone front role. Jeff Hendrik is one of the Irish lads and he looked a good all round footballer both at centre half and in midfield, he again wasn’t small. Finally a player I’d not come across before was Alex Witham who played centre midfield. He was released by Arsenal at 16 and looked a really tidy central midfielder, nice control and good passing with both feet. Watch out for him.
The final point of note, was that the reserves played exactly the same formation (4-2-3-1) as the first team and were also noticeably playing the ball to feet. It’s a well-known fact that teams like Ajax and Barcelona play the same formation and style right from their first team through their Academy, so it’s good to see the Rams trying to do the same.
If you do get the chance to do a reserve game before the end of the season, take it up. You’ll enjoy it.