Ayden Callaghan has looked back on derbies gone by and the characters he’s played with and against.
My earliest memory of the derby was playing under Steve Coles and Keith Walker. We had a good side with the like of Graham Freshwater, Stuart Tavener, Andy Goates, Duncan O’Connor, Paul Talbot and Gareth Robins. We battered them at their place by 5 or 6 and Paul Bowley (who I later played for at Twyford and nearly at The Ath) their Goalkeeper, got sent off for kicking me while I was on the floor. To be fair to him he didn’t connect too hard, but I made sure the ref knew about it! I probably only played in 4 or 5 derbies and there was always a bit of needle, but not like there was later down the line. I only lost one which was at The Gate on a midweek. They had signed Rory Bray when we had been in for him and he ran the game. Damien Wiffin scored the winner as they ran out 2-1 winners. In terms of best players I played with or against in those games for them, Michael Carroll and Damien Wiffin were two of the best players in the local area I’ve ever seen and could and should have played much higher. Goalkeepers Paul Gibbs and Simon Rolfe, who like a lot of the guys turned out for both, were also very talented lads and had the keeper- mad streak. I loved playing with all the lads I played with. Stand outs are probably Goatesy who on his day (when fit) was a match winner on his own, Tally scored goals for fun and Tav and Freshy were as good as any players through the divisions in the South Mids. Both had played much higher and their experience showed and were fearless competitors.
My opinion is the real fierce rivalry started when Wally and Colesy went to take over The Ath leaving Winslow and Steve Kelly came in. Ath had a terrific young side built around Damo and Mickey and a core of quality local lads. They went on to do very well and even though Winslow had some good signings Ath were always ahead. I had moved to London so was watching from afar, but the rivalry grew and the games were always well attended especially at The Gate. When Damo came to Winslow that added a new angle to it and likewise when he left Winslow to return to The Ath, taking a number of players with him, that of course turned up the heat. Perry came in and started turning the tide back towards Winslow especially with one thumping away victory.
I think with social media players are able to wind each other up through the season and that has probably fed it somewhat, however it feels like there is less animosity or needle these days. It’s still an important fixture and will rightfully draw one of the biggest crowds of the season, but I think this Winslow side have their sights set beyond being the best local side and are looking to achieve something we haven’t for a long time at the right end of the table. Its an exciting team full of goals with Aaron King, Sean Coles and Matt Cruise scoring freely. Skipper Simon King chipping in his fair share and driving the team on, of course they will be facing another King in the blue on Saturday with the vastly experienced and quality Neil King pulling the strings. It’s important to stop him supplying the new crop of quality youngsters the Ath have coming through. I must just offer them my congratulations on their FA Youth Cup run, sensational. Hopefully with Winslow putting things in place we can start closing the gap over the coming seasons on the Aths excellent youth production line.
This game has produced more than its fair share of quality football and talking points and it is also a game where a player can write himself in to local folklore. I am expecting it to be one of the biggest crowds of the day in the whole league and three points are vital first and foremost. I’m sure that’s what the management and players will be focussed on
Thanks to Sports Shots for keeping my updated from afar with their excellent coverage.
I enjoyed pulling on a Winslow shirt again recently in the vets game and hope to do it again soon.
I’m gutted I can’t be there but I’ll be watching developments from afar and hoping The mighty Ploughmen win and win well. My prediction Winslow to win 4-2: King two, Coles and Cruse.