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Dion Templeton timed his run to

perfection and met Ritchie


Lawrences left wing cross with a
powerful downward header. The
ball slapped from his smooth
forehead, skimmed the turf and
flew into the net.
2-0! Great header, Dion! Keith Durham,
the captain yelled as he congratulated
the centre-forward on his second goal of
the game. But Durham did not get the
enthusiastic response he had expected.
Templeton remained on his haunches, in
obvious pain. Trainer! the skipper
shouted, Whats up, bruv? he enquired.
The big striker just shook his head and
rolled onto his back, clutching his right knee.
On the Rovers bench , Roy Race checked the time on his watch, Six minutes left;
Paul Evans get stripped off, youre on. Tell Rocky to move central, you just make
a nuisance of yourself!
Evans was the ultimate professional, but could not help but be disappointed with
his new role as a pest. Four St. Johns Ambulancemen carried the stretcher-bound
Templeton past the goateed attacking midfielder. Weeks, Racey. the trainer
whispered, perhaps this would be Paul Evans chance to re-establish himself in
the first-team. He had never let the team down, only Per Enqvists superb form
was keeping him from seeing more action.
This is not the time to lose our targetman! Geoff Giles confided in his manager.
Agreed! But weve not got another strong forward. Were going to have to
rethink tactics and formation again. Just when were on a winning streak, what
bad luck!
The full-time whistle was soon blown and the Rovers players trudged off as if
they had suffered a defeat rather than another convincing win. Their opponents,
rock bottom North Vale almost seemed in higher spirits. Rocky jogged to his
fathers side, Dions out for a while, I could tell. Get Robbie Bishop in, trust me!
The great manager paused for thought, Tonight, son, well have dinner. You
need to tell me why, Im intrigued!
Roy Race was a terrible cook, so as per usual, the healthy options from the local
Vietnamese takeaway arrived at the Race mansion at 8pm. Father and son
tucked in, refraining from chopsticks, fork to mouth action. So, son, why Bishop?
Honestly, Id move you to centre-forward and bring Evans in on the right. We

dont need a big man, Bishop isnt a big man, Im not sure chucking a teenager
in right now is the right move. I dont want to risk ruining a player when weve
such a small squad.
Bishops ready, Dad! When I played with him in the reserves last season, he was
ready then. Hes not big, but hes as strong as an ox! He wont win the high balls
like Dion, but hell rough up the centre-half! Hell get on the end of crosses, hes
just so aggressive! Roy was not as sure, But his goalscoring record in the
reserves is poor! Rocky laughed, Dad, our reserves are poor! We play sixteen
year olds against grizzly old pros! Weve no strength in depth, the reserve side is
just rubbish. I didnt even look good in that side!
I take your point, son! Weve the Worthington Cup match at home to Wakeford
Town on Tuesday night, Ill start him! Sound good?
Another sold out crowd packed into the Mel Valley Rugby Club as Melchester
Rovers in red and yellow and Wakeford Town in green and black ran out.
Melchester line-up in their traditional 4-3-3, Roy Race choosing to rest key firstteamers Jeff Cooper, Dino Marcello, Jamie Nash and David Gates: Marshall;
Gronvold, Daley, Kerrigan, Lawrence; Evans, Durham , Enqvist; McKaffree,
Bishop, Race.
Wakeford Town (4-4-2): Turner; Barbush, Rhodes, Plumber, Stoneman; Klutfelt,
Brutus, Leaman , McDear; Fullerton, Meadows.
Rocky jogged out alongside the new centre-forward, Robbie, my son! Just do
what you normally do, Wakeford are struggling in the Second Division, youll be
fine! The bulky teenager just nodded back at his superstar team-mate, his face
stern, Come on Rovers! he shouted at the top of his voice. Rocky stepped back
amazed at the confidence of the young man and he let off some encouraging
vocals too.
Soon Rovers built their first meaningful attack; Paul Evans picked up a loose
clearance from a Wakeford defender, Now, Evans! Bishop screamed, the
midfielder obliged, firing in a stiff low pass. Bishop, back to goal, held off his
marker and trapped the pass. The defender snapped at his legs, but the tough
teenager would not go down. Rocky made his move and sped in behind, pointing
where he wanted the ball. Robbie feigned to the left and tricked the defence with
a delightful back-heel into the path of Race. With no opponent near, Rocky
controlled, looked up and placed the perfect finish into the bottom corner. What a
start for Rovers and Robbie Bishop. An amazing goal!
Bishop netted his first senior goal moments before half-time. Paul Marshall
claimed an over-hit long ball and dropkicked upfield. The Wakeford defence held
a high line, roughly forty yards from goal. Bishop positioned himself beneath the
dropping ball, using his arms to prevent the centre-back from sneaking in front.
He controlled on the chest, nudged back to Per Enqvist, span and sprinted
forward. The Swede did not hesitate and fed a slide rule pass between the two
central defenders. Twenty yards out, Bishop caught up with the pass and rifled
an unstoppable shot past the Town keeper. Rovers were two up and Robbie
Bishop had made one and scored one. Rocky Race was right, he was ready for
first-team football!

***
Mightily encouraged by the goalscoring performance of Robbie Bishop in the 4-0
Worthington Cup win over Wakeford Town, Roy Race watched on eagerly as his
new centre-forward trained with one of his old strikers. Andy MacLaren the youth
team manager, doubled up as attacking coach. The big Scot directed a shooting
drill, he laid off awkwardly bobbling passes into the path of the forwards who
then tried to beat Paul Marshall in the goal. Both Rocky Race and Declan
McKaffree were genuinely two-footed and rattled in goal after goal. Bishop had a
powerful right foot shot, but struggled to stay balanced when shooting with his
left. He was a bulky lad, despite his teenage years, heavier and far more
muscular than his strike partners. His wide shoulders and strong neck muscles
seemed to be the cause of his over-balancing.
Roy stepped in, Big Mac, do you mind? A little change to the drill, can you be
defender and close down Bishop? MacLaren did as instructed, Robbie, if it
comes on the left, take a touch, hold off the defender then get your shot off!
This time Rocky Race played the ball in with a wicked back spin, it bobbed and
curved onto Bishops left foot. MacLaren neared, Bishop turned his right shoulder
into the redhead, shielding the ball, before controlling with his right and hitting
the bouncing ball ferociously with his left. His half-volley flew past Marshall, the
keeper did not move.
Blinding! Rocky shouted, as he and McKaffree applauded, Weve got a right
scrapper up top, is he a bull or a bullock? What ones what? Declan, laughed, he
had grown up on a farm in Ireland, he snuck up behind young Bishop and yanked
his shorts down, Cant you tell, Rock? Is he all there?
Larking around had always been an important part of professional football
training sessions, and as the newcomer Robbie Bishop had to expect some
niggle. But he was a moody so-and-so and fought back, Get back in your bog,
McKaffree! And you Race, youre nothing but a Spice Boy, all pretty hair and
manicures!
The manager stepped in to end the fun and game, Thats enough for today,
lads. Go and get changed! Rocky and Declan ran off, giggling; Robbie Bishop did
not follow, Andy, Paul can we do some more shots, please? Roy Race was
impressed, his new striker wanted to work on a weakness in his game, there
were no worries about this lads mental toughness and his natural striking ability
was as good as any Roy had seen at that age, probably even ahead of Rocky.
Every day after training that week, Bishop stayed out later than any other
member of the squad. Shooting drills, free-kicks, ball work, he was working hard.
He then hit the gym, pressing impressive weight, even out-lifting the club
strongman Keith Durham. On Friday Roy had a quiet word, Dont overdo the
training, son. Your body is still developing, let it settle a bit. Youre not to do any
weight training next week, I want you to work on your aerobic ability. That means
you run! Besides, youre making your first Premier League start tomorrow away
at Deans Park!
The normally surly young man offered a hint of a smile, before punching the air.
I wont let you down, boss! I promise you a goal, maybe even two!

Melchester Rovers welcome back the men rested from Wakeford, (4-3-3): Cooper;
Marcello, Kerrigan, Nash, Lawrence; Enqvist, Gates, Durham ; McKaffree,
Bishop, Race.
As the teams lined up in the cramped tunnel of the compact West London
ground, Robbie Bishop could hear the line-ups being announced, 11 Durham, 15
McKaffree, 10 Bishop He glanced at his shorts, checking the number, Im not
10, Robbie Bishop is 18! he said quietly to himself as the players walked out
slowly.
The atmosphere was always lively at Deans Park and today was no different. The
crowd was right on top of the narrowest pitch in the Premier League, to many
young pros it felt claustrophobic, so different from the vast expanses of the
training grounds where they had played so much of their football. But Bishop was
loving it; early on, he gave chase to a wild clearance from Andy Kerrigan. The
left-back gave up sprinting, waiting for the ball to reach touch. Bishop had not
given up and hacked the ball up the line, just keeping it in play. McKaffree was
after it, in acres of space, the Deans Park defence had switched off completely.
The Irishman retrieved the ball just outside the penalty area, to the right of goal,
the goalkeeper rushed to narrow the angle. McKaffree shuffled, feigned inside,
before flicking the ball with the outside of his right foot around the sliding keeper.
Hopping over the prone body, McKaffree had the easy task of knocking the ball
into the empty net.
The forward ran in celebration searching for Bishop, whose effort had created the
goal. There he was, on the other side of the barriers, scrambling to his feet
surrounded by home supporters. He brushed off one or two overzealous fans as
McKaffree leapt into his arms.
Bishop continued to work his socks off and with just seconds to go, kept his
promise to his manager. Rocky Race held the ball in the corner, trying to waste
what little time remained. The right-back was not impressed and hacked at
Rockys shins. The referee gave the obvious free-kick, expecting a slow restart
again the Deans Park defence lost concentration. Now! Bishop screamed at Per
Enqvist who was taking his time over the restart. It was a simple goal, a straight
forward pass inside, to Bishop who received on the penalty spot, let the ball drift
onto his right foot, before unleashing an unstoppable low drive past the stricken
goalkeeper.
The whistle went as Deans Park kick-off and Rovers had sealed a sixth straight
win. Robbie Bishop had proven such a revelation that Melchester Rovers were not
to miss their real number 10, Dion Templeton. Bishop had arrived, hed moved,
he was now at F10.
2001/02 Melchester Rovers Results

NEXT Will Melchester Rovers continue their fine form over the busy
festive period?