Tag Archives: counties

David Price would beat Tyson Fury – Thomas Stalker

Price beat Fury before and I'd back him to do it again before taking on the Klitschkos

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UPDATED:

22:54 GMT, 12 December 2012

Thomas Stalker captained the Team GB boxing squad at the London Olympics and reached the quarter-finals in the light-welterweight division.

Here, in his first column for MailOnline, he discusses the latest news from the ring and his own future in boxing.

Talking point: Thomas Stalker at the Institute of Sport in Sheffield where Team GB boxers are based

Talking point: Thomas Stalker at the Institute of Sport in Sheffield where Team GB boxers are based

Tyson Fury has been slagging off David Price on Twitter.

I
can understand Tyson building the proposed fight up to put bums on
seats and earn a big pay day but David Price will beat him and beat him
well.

I fought on the same
card when Pricey beat him last time. There was a great atmosphere. It
was in the ABA North West Counties finals in Wythenshawe Forum,
Manchester in 2006 and the place was ram packed to the rafters.

Repeat performance: Heavyweight David Price (right) hopes to face rival Tyson Fury

Repeat performance: Heavyweight David Price (right) hopes to face rival Tyson Fury

There
were two big crews of fans from Liverpool and Manchester and I think it
was almost as tasty outside the ring as in. Pricey totally outboxed
Tyson that night and he will do the same. He may be 6ft 8ins tall but
Pricey moves like a middleweight, he's lean and he's got great
technique. Tyson is good but I think Pricey is the best equipped to take
on the Klitschkos if they hang around.

Flintoff deserves respect… but should quit while he's ahead

Freddie Flintoff has been getting some stick off the boxing fraternity.

He's been called a sideshow and I know many fighters thought Freddie's fight with Richard Dawson would be disrespectful to the sport but I disagree. I've been watching Freddie's documentaries on his training and build-up and for me he's been good for boxing.

I don't agree with him grabbing the headlines as if he was top of the bill at Manchester but I suppose with the hype that was inevitable.

Respect: Freddie Flintoff won on his professional boxing debut in Manchester last month

Respect: Freddie Flintoff won on his professional boxing debut in Manchester last month

To me, he took it seriously. He showed heart and courage to take that on. It was like Ricky Hatton's fight the other week, the end result wasn't the important factor. Ricky wanted to answer questions about himself in the ring and Freddie did the same. And you have to say he did well.

Everyone knows he's not going to be a contender for the world heavyweight champion, it was a one-off and he and Barry McGuigan spoke sensibly about it afterwards saying 'That's it now. Finished'. But I was impressed. He showed no fear and he handled his nerves on the day of the fight really well. I know how difficult that is. Now he has seen how hard it is to get into that ring.

You'll always have fans in the street thinking they can do it but until you punch the bags, step in to take that first punch, do that first spar or do the training, you don't realise how hard this game is.

It's a tough business and I think now Freddie should just keep up his training but retire.

Decision time

I've got a big decision to make over the next few weeks.

I have offers to turn professional and have held talks with Khan promotions, Matchroom and a couple of others.

If I go it's a big step because it would mean leaving the Great Britain Olympic set-up and that would be a very sad day.

Devastated: Stalker lost at the quarter-final stage of the London Olympics

Devastated: Stalker lost at the quarter-final stage of the London Olympics

I've done everything with this team bar win a medal. The group is like a second family. We train together, eat together, even live together in a flat in Sheffield so these are people I have a great affection for.

If I turn professional I can't have UK Lottery funding any more, I'm on my own. If I stay I have the funding, the lifestyle and the offer of a coaching job once my fighting days are over.

It's a big risk but I know that if I don't turn professional I'll always be asking 'what if' It's something that may haunt me. I want to test myself, see how far I can go and that is where I am leaning.

People may know I was bitterly disappointed not to win a medal in the summer and it still hurts me every day. If I'd won I wouldn't be thinking of turning professional. The nature of the Olympics has meant those who won medals have had doors opened, great commercial offers and I could have used that while also doing TV work. It would have given a regular income and I could have stayed with the GB set-up.

Weighty issue: Stalker must decide whether to turn professional or remain with Team GB

Weighty issue: Stalker must decide whether to turn professional or remain with Team GB

Weighty issue: Stalker must decide whether to turn professional or remain with Team GB

Whatever happens I will be fighting in February. That's the target whether pro or amateur. It could be in Bulgaria or Hungary or wherever the promoter's bill. I don't know the opponent yet but I have to be ready, that's the business I'm in.

Hopefully, I'll make the right decision in time for Christmas.

One to watch

I saw Hughie Fury who is Tyson's younger cousin fight the other day. He won gold in Armenia in the Youth World Championships as a super heavyweight, beating Narender Berwal from India and that's a great achievement.

The guys from these countries are all improving now and they're tough opponents. Hughie's big but looks a real thinker as well as a hitter and mover. He will be a good bet for gold at Rio or maybe the Olympics after that.

MK Dons 1 AFC Wimbledon 1: match report

MK Dons 2 AFC Wimbledon 1: Ecstasy to agony for travelling fans as cheeky late winner ends dream grudge match victory

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UPDATED:

15:17 GMT, 2 December 2012

Jon Otsemobor scored a last-gasp winner to send MK Dons into the FA Cup third round at the expense of bitter rivals AFC Wimbledon.

Jack Midson's diving header had looked set to earn Wimbledon a replay after cancelling out Stephen Gleeson's stunning opener, but Otsemobor flicked home in the last minute to break the visitors' hearts.

The match was the first between the two clubs since 1988 FA Cup winners Wimbledon FC were uprooted from south west London in 2003 and moved over 50 miles north of the capital to the Buckinghamshire town, before being renamed MK Dons the following year.

Stranded: Jon Otsemobor flicked home the winner for MK Dons in the dying minutes

Stranded: Jon Otsemobor flicked home the winner for MK Dons in the dying minutes

Match facts

Milton Keynes Dons: Martin, Otsemobor, Kay, Williams, Lewington, Gleeson, Potter, Bowditch, Chadwick, Balanta (Ismail 66), Lowe (Smith 80).

Subs not used: McLoughlin, Doumbe, MacDonald, Chicksen, Sekajja.

Goal: Midson 59, Otsemobor 90

AFC Wimbledon: Sullivan, Osano, Fenlon, Antwi, Mambo, Luke Moore (Johnson 81), Gregory, Long, Ajala, Harrison (Strutton 71), Midson.

Subs not used: Jaimez-Ruiz, Balkestein, Mitchel-King, McNaughton, Djilali.

Booked: Midson, L Moore, Ajala.

Goal: Gleeson 45.

Referee: Scott Mathieson (Cheshire)

Angry Wimbledon FC fans subsequently formed AFC Wimbledon from scratch in the Combined Counties League before enjoying a rapid rise up the football pyramid, and are now just one division below npower League One promotion challengers MK Dons.

The bad blood between the clubs was in evidence throughout, with both sets of fans goading the other, but in the main the match passed off without incident, save for a brief pitch invasion following Wimbledon's equaliser.

The hosts controlled the first half but they struggled to create clear chances in the face of a disciplined Wimbledon rearguard action.

Angelo Balanta came close when he curled the ball just wide of the post after a neat turn on the edge of the box before Gleeson broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time, blasting a 30-yard shot into the top-right corner.

MK Dons burst out of the blocks after the break and skipper Dean Lewington had a 25-yard free-kick pushed over the crossbar by Neil Sullivan before Balanta and Dean Bowditch both lashed strikes into the side-netting.

Mobbed: MK Dons celebrate their last-gasp winner which dumped AFC Wimbledon out of the FA Cup

Mobbed: MK Dons celebrate their last-gasp winner which dumped AFC Wimbledon out of the FA Cup


In front: Stephen Gleeson opened the scoring for MK Dons with a stunning strike

In front: Stephen Gleeson opened the scoring for MK Dons with a stunning strike

Happy days: Gleeson celebrates with his team-mates after scoring the first goal

Happy days: Gleeson celebrates with his team-mates after scoring the first goal

But Midson made the most of a rare
Wimbledon counter-attack to equalise after 59 minutes, glancing a fine
diving header past David Martin from Toby Ajaya's cross.

A number of Wimbledon fans spilled onto the pitch following the goal, but stewards quickly restored order.

In a frantic finale, Ryan Lowe had a
goal ruled out for offside for Milton Keynes and Wimbledon skipper
Steven Gregory was denied by Martin before Otsemobor hung out a leg to
backheel substitute Zeli Ismail's mis-hit shot over Sullivan to spark
wild scenes of celebration for the hosts.

Level pegging: Jack Midson equalised for AFC Wimbledon (above) before celebrating with team-mates and fans

Level pegging: Jack Midson equalised for AFC Wimbledon (above) before celebrating with team-mates and fans

Players and fans celebrate as Jack Midson of AFC Wimbledon scores their first goal

Players and fans celebrate as Jack Midson of AFC Wimbledon scores their first goal

Crunch: Ryan Lowe of MK Dons is tackled by AFC Wimbledon's Luke Moore

Crunch: Ryan Lowe of MK Dons is tackled by AFC Wimbledon's Luke Moore

On the run: AFC Wimbledon's Stacy Long (right) sets up another attack for the visitors

On the run: AFC Wimbledon's Stacy Long (right) sets up another attack for the visitors

Battle: Luke Chadwick (right) and Steve Gregory fight for possession at stadium:mk

Battle: Luke Chadwick (right) and Steve Gregory fight for possession at stadium:mk

AFC Wimbledon should bury hatchet with MK Dons, say Crazy Gang members

It's time to bury the hatchet with MK… so long as they ditch the 'Dons', say original Crazy Gang ahead of grudge match

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UPDATED:

17:57 GMT, 29 November 2012

It may have been 24 years ago but when the FA Cup comes around, it still stirs passionate emotions among the most famous football mavericks of them all – the Crazy Gang of Wimbledon who shocked the then mighty Liverpool to lift the famous old trophy at Wembley in 1988.

And those passions are no less fiery due to the nature of this weekend’s second round games that pit the reborn AFC Wimbledon against the hated club they call the franchise robbers who stole their birthright – MK Dons.

It was when the original Wimbledon, founder members of the Premier League, died and their League place in the fourth tier was snapped up by the Milton Keynes outfit, headed by opportunist chairman Pete Winkelman, that a vow was taken to restore the old club.

The upset to end all upsets: Lawrie Sanchez heads the winning goal in the 1988 FA Cup Final at Wembley

The upset to end all upsets: Lawrie Sanchez heads the winning goal in the 1988 FA Cup Final at Wembley

Legends: Dave Beasant (centre) and Bobby Gould (bottom) celebrate with the famous old trophy

Legends: Dave Beasant (centre) and Bobby Gould (bottom) celebrate with the famous old trophy

So successful has that been that AFC have climbed all the way back from the Combined Counties League and back into the Football League – and now have the draw that the game would lick their lips over – though AFC fans have warned they won’t set foot in the place that forced them to start all over again on a park pitch.

But the old Dons heroes, the REAL Dons, who won that FA Cup, believe it is time to bury the hatchet with MK – as long as Winkelman agrees to drop the Dons from their name and renames them City, Town, United or some other.

Goalkeeper Dave Beasant, who comes only behind FA Cup Final scorer Lawrie Sanchez in the pantheon of Wimbledon legends by saving a penalty on the great day, led the call last night to call a truce.

Beasant said: ‘There is a lot of bitterness from AFC fans that Wimbledon lost their League status. They think that MK didn’t go about it the right way, when they should have only gained a place in the League by qualifying through non-league football.

‘You understand the bitterness but it’s been done, it was a while and the position isn’t going to be changed. And MK Dons are a progressive team, having gained promotion to League Three, just as AFC have progressed into the League proper.

Dons folklore: Beasant dives to his left to save a penalty from Liverpool striker John Aldridge

Dons folklore: Beasant dives to his left to save a penalty from Liverpool striker John Aldridge in the Final

‘I know a lot of fans won’t forget about it. But this is now a Cup match, the two teams are meeting for the first time. And AFC getting there from where they started is what Wimbledon’s history is all about.

‘We were never a big club but got a big name through winning the FA Cup. It’s a game that will be talked about because of the way MK attained their League status on the back of Wimbledon losing theirs.

FA Cup Final 1988 – Match Facts

Wimbledon: Dave Beasant (c); Clive Goodyear, Eric Young, Andy Thorn, Terry Phelan; Alan Cork (Laurie Cunningham 56), Vinnie Jones, Lawrie Sanchez, Dennis Wise; John Fashanu, Terry Gibson (John Scales 63)

Manager: Bobby Gould

Goals: Sanchez 37

Liverpool: Bruce Grobbelaar; Steve Nicol, Gary Gillespie, Alan Hansen (c), Gary Ablett; Ray Houghton, Nigel Spackman (Jan Mlby 74), Steve McMahon, John Barnes; Peter Beardsley, John Aldridge (Craig Johnston 64)

Manager: Kenny Dalglish

‘Of course I have more of a feeling for AFC because they represent the foundations that Wimbledon came from. I don’t know how many fans went with MK or how many stayed. I know a few did and one or two became directors.

‘But I do feel they should stand on their own two feet now as Milton Keynes – forget calling themselves Dons.’

Beasant, now a part-time coach with Bristol Rovers and previously Glenn Hoddle’s academy in Spain until it finished, added: ‘If they would drop the Dons from their name, I do feel that would go some way to appeasing Wimbledon’s current fans.’

In looking back to those great days of the Crazy Gang, Beasant says: ’We weren’t given the credit we deserved as individual players because of the way we played. But look how many of us did move on to bigger clubs after the Cup triumph – myself, the likes of John Fashanu, Dennis Wise and Vinnie Jones.’

Yet through the mists of time he sees one man as the original Crazy Gang founder – current West Ham coach Wally Downes. Beasant explained: ‘He was the original before myself and Alan Cork joined in. Then the likes of Fash, Wisey and Vinny became associate members.’

New dawn: Wimbledon's league place was taken by the newly-formed MK Dons in 2004

New dawn: Wimbledon's league place was taken by the newly-formed MK Dons in 2004

New dawn: Wimbledon's league place was taken by the newly-formed MK Dons in 2004

Injury prevented Downes from sharing in the FA Cup glory but he was there from the start as an apprentice Crazy Gangster.

Another who came through that route was Cup Finalist Andy Thorn, up until recently the Coventry manager before his heroic struggle to keep them from being relegated to Division One gave out.

Thorn, who is now eager to get back into the managerial fray after settling compensation, remembers the kind of stunt the Gang were famous for. He said: ‘We used to go everywhere in this minibus, lads all piled in the back, feet up on the kit like a bunch of schoolboys. That was the way we went to White Hart Lane to play our FA Cup semi-final against Luton.

‘It was a minibus I remembered well after my first experience of the senior team, a trip to Leyton Orient when I was probably 13th man.

VIDEO: Dean Holdsworth's FA Cup memories

‘After we won, I was ordered to get to the nearest off licence in Leyton High St to get the beers in. I duly brought armfuls of cans back, handed them over, upon which the back doors were slammed in my face and they roared off leaving me stranded in the middle of the high street!

‘So I was left to get a couple of buses and trains back home on my own.

‘But it was all part of the growing up, the toughening up. We don’t go out of our way to see each other these days but it’s as though we’ve never been away when we do bump into each other. It seems we’re all following the same pattern of life, a few divorces, and we’re all moving on.

‘On the big game, I regard them as two
completely separate clubs now. But with Wimbledon, the way we battled
from where we came from to get as far as founder members of the Premier
League, what we had to overcome, the supporters of the new AFC have done
exactly the same thing. It epitomises what Wimbledon are all about.’

Phoenix from the flames: AFC Wimbledon have risen through non-league football to League Two

Phoenix from the flames: AFC Wimbledon have risen through non-league football to League Two

Phoenix from the flames: AFC Wimbledon have risen through non-league football to League Two

Cup Final winning manager Bobby Gould regards himself as an honorary Crazy Gang member and recalls hilarious times. Gould, who now has a regular show on Talksport, said: ‘I originally joined Wimbledon as a player after the sack from Chelsea as a coach in 1981 when I answered an advert from then manager Dave Bassett for a centre forward. It was 40 a week and 20 expenses.

‘When I was manager the one who was always up to something was Dennis Wise. I could never take my eyes off him.

‘The players used to have what was known as The Circle when a dispute needed settling. They would form a circle and the two players who had a problem with each other would have a grapple, like wrestling – but no punching or biting!

‘After a few days there, Wisey shouted: ‘’Circle’’. I said: ‘’Who’s in it’’ He said: ‘’You are Gouldy, you’ve upset me’’. So I couldn’t back down,

‘We started to fight and all of a sudden I land on his fist and crack a rib. I had the physio Steve Allan in and said: ‘’Get me up the stairs to the dressing room before I faint because at the moment I’m winning’!

‘But I had fought Wisey in the circle. We laughed and we never stopped. But the beauty of them was they knew when they wanted to do the job and went about it the right way.’

VIDEO: We are Wimbledon

Gould will be supporting AFC this weekend, though admits: ‘I started off supporting MK in the early days, simply because I wanted Wimbledon to survive in some form or other. But once AFC came on the scene, starting up from a Sunday kickabout, my allegiance changed to them.

‘On the day I’ll be wearing my lucky tracksuit that I wore the day we won the FA Cup. I agree with Dave Beasant that now MK should do the decent thing and drop the Dons part of their name. Why not be City, United or whatever. They don’t need it, they’ve handed back all the trophies so they recognise that Wimbledon are the true Dons.’

Alan Cork, who can proudly claim that he played for Wimbledon in every division of the old Football League, sadly does not connect with AFC as much as some of the others. He said: ‘I don’t have a club to go back to in Wimbledon like I can with Sheffield United, because it’s not the same one I played for. I know a lot of the boys do associate with AFC but as far as any dispute with MK Dons is concerned I don’t have a serious view.’

Cork, formerly a No 2 for Gary Megson at Bolton and now a part-time scout for Stuart Pearce’s England Under 21s, added: ‘MK have an excellent stadium and a thriving club. The cup tie I won’t be supporting either, as my loyalties now are to Southampton where my son Jack plays and is doing very well.

‘It’s hard to get to watch him because I am normally at another game. I was recently at Italy v. Spain Under 21s for Stuart. Italy are in our group in the championship finals next summer. Spain have got quite some side….’

Different Dons with differing views but the old boys will all have memories of great past deeds this weekend.

VIDEO: The best FA Cup second-round shocks

Former Arsenal stars Martin Keown and Ray Parlour come out of retirement to play in FA Cup

The stars come out to play in the Cup… Keown, Parlour, Le Saux and McBride set to feature for Wembley

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UPDATED:

23:08 GMT, 10 August 2012

Sportsmail's Martin Keown will return to football on Saturday when he lines up for Wembley FC in the FA Cup.

Keown joins Ray Parlour, Graeme Le Saux, Brian McBride and Claudio Caniggia for the extra preliminary round match against Langford FC.

The team, who play in the Combined Counties Premier Division – eight tiers below the Premier League – will be managed by former England boss Terry Venables.

Back in action: Former Arsenal defender and Sportsmail columnist Martin Keown is coming out of retirement to play for Wembley FC in the FA Cup

Back in action: Former Arsenal defender and Sportsmail columnist Martin Keown is coming out of retirement to play for Wembley FC in the FA Cup

Legends on show: David Seaman, Ray Parlour, Martin Keown, Graeme Le Saux, Claudio Caniggia, and Brian McBride have been signed by Budweiser to play and coach at Wembley FC, where Terry Venables is Technical Advisor

Legends on show: David Seaman, Ray Parlour, Martin Keown, Graeme Le Saux, Claudio Caniggia, and Brian McBride have been signed by Budweiser to play and coach at Wembley FC, where Terry Venables is Technical Advisor

Forty-six-year-old Keown and the other former international stars are playing for Wembley as part of a TV documentary.

Keown has been training hard to get fit for the Langford match but is likely to start on the bench at Vale Park.

Saturday's match will also be shown live on ESPN and Facebook.

Giles Clarke poised for third term as ECB chairman

Clarke poised for unprecedented third term as ECB chairman

Giles Clarke is set to continue as chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board until 2015.

ECB has announced Clarke has been
nominated for the role by the 18 first class counties and Marylebone
Cricket Club for the next term of office up to the organisation's annual
general meeting in 2015.

Top man: ECB chairman Giles Clarke

Top man: ECB chairman Giles Clarke

No other nominations were received and Clarke's candidacy will now be put forward for election by the 41 full members of the ECB. The result will be known in mid-March.

Clarke said: 'I am most grateful and honoured by the First Class Counties and MCC in being re-nominated for the role of ECB Chairman.'

The Incredible Holt: Ex tyre-fitter putting the skids under elite

The Incredible Holt: Ex tyre-fitter putting the skids under Premier League's elite

'From the Unibond Prem to the Real
Prem', read Grant Holt's T-shirt when Norwich won promotion last May. It
has been quite some journey.

England's third-highest scoring
striker this season, Holt is bullying defences in the air, scoring goals
at the most famous grounds in the country and leading the line
brilliantly as Norwich prove they are in the Premier League to stay.

But it was not so long ago that the 30-year-old was told to leave his home club Carlisle and became a part-time tyre fitter.

Rising to the top: Norwich's Grant Holt, who played for Workington aged 17 (below)

Rising to the top: Norwich's Grant Holt, who played for Workington aged 17 (below)

Goal machine: Grant Holt

Holt was a centre half failing to make the grade back then so took a job as a tyre fitter, getting up at 6am for work and playing park football in his spare time.

It was then that he switched to becoming a striker, a move which caught non-league Workington's attention and took him on the first step of a tumultuous journey plagued by struggles and tragedy but ultimately ending in considerable success.

'He joined in 1998 when he was 17,' said Steve Durham, who worked closely with him at Workington.

'We'd just been relegated to the North West Counties League but he helped us come back up at the first attempt, scoring nine in the last six games of the season and winning our Young Player of the Year award.

'He was still a tyre fitter back then in Carlisle and I remember him always asking for an extra hot dog from the lady in the kitchen.'

But it was his appetite for football rather than hot dogs that was challenged when a move to Halifax didn't take off and then his father George, who he was close to, died from cancer aged 40.

Holt: Grant's journey

It was an horrendous blow for such a young man but one that spurred him on for the rest of his career.

'I wasn't bothered about football,' said Holt. 'My dad had travelled all over the country to watch me playing for Halifax. Now I try to be as good as I can to make him proud.

'He's not here to see me do what I wanted to do, which is a shame. But hopefully he is looking down on me and feeling really proud of his son. I've had a lot of knocks and disappointments that I've had to bounce back from.

'Maybe there's a determination and inner-strength in me, but I think it comes from my dad. He is acting as my inspiration.'

He settled back into his football at
Barrow, scoring 54 goals in 114 games – but not without a little
polishing from manager Lee Turnbull.

'I taught him about making runs
across the centre halves and how to head the ball because he used to get
underneath it when he first joined us. He was a fun lad. I remember him
rolling around the dressing room having mock fights with his
team-mates.'

Let's get physical: Grant Holt

Let's get physical: Grant Holt

Let's get physical: Grant Holt is a throw-back to the days of bullying centre-forwards

Holt also had a real sense of
adventure, travelling to Australia where he played for fun a few times
for a team in Perth before being persuaded by their manager Trevor
Morgan to join his new side – Sengkang Marine in Singapore.

HOT-SHOT HOLT
Top scorer: Wayne Rooney

Rooney

Only two English strikers have scored more goals than Holt this season in the Premier League:

Wayne Rooney (Man Utd) 13

Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea) 9

Goal: Daniel Sturridge

Sturridge

Grant Holt (Norwich) 7

Jermain Defoe (Tottenham) 7

Peter Crouch (Stoke) 6

Danny Graham (Swansea) 6

Darren Bent (Aston Villa) 6

But would his style suit
international football, where referees are quick to penalise physical
players His record in the Premier League this season suggest it could
be a problem…

Foul: Alan Wiley books Wayne Rooney

FOULS CONCEDED

Grant Holt 49

Tim Cahill 42

Alex Song 41

Marouane Fellaini 41

Charlie Adam 40

'He did well, scoring 15 goals in 17 games,' said Morgan, now in charge of East Bengal in Calcutta.

'One thing he found difficult was that referees penalised him a lot for his style over there. You can't use your body as much.

'We used to have a couple of thousand at home games. But it felt less as the crowd don't chant like they do in England – it was more polite applause. We had a nice standard of living over there and all lived in a block with a swimming pool, gym and sauna.'

After his summer in Singapore, Holt returned to Barrow and soon got his big move after Turnbull recommended him to Sheffield Wednesday manager Chris Turner.

'He scored three in the first half an hour and Chris leant across the dugout and said “how much do you want for him”.'

The answer was 7,500 but, as Barrow press officer Phil Yelland explains, the deal didn't work out as either party hoped.

'We negotiated a good deal for add-ons but, unfortunately, he didn't really do well at Sheffield Wednesday and went to Rochdale, so our chance of making a fortune had gone.' said Yelland.

'He still cares about the club and did pitch up on the terraces once or twice last season. Maybe one day he might come back to play for us.'

At Rochdale he again found form and a manager who backed him, scoring 34 goals in 75 games and earning a 300,000 move to Nottingham Forest.

But again, just as it seemed he was moving in the right direction, he struggled again, eventually leaving for Shrewsbury after some tensions with manager Colin Calderwood.

This time there would be no more backwards steps as the then Norwich City manager Bryan Gunn signed him for his recently relegated side.

'When I saw him for Shrewsbury, his striker partner had been sent off and he dominated the back four on his own,' said Gunn.

'There were a few clubs after him, including Colchester, whose manager was Paul Lambert.

'The main reason we were able to afford him was that lots of fans were prepared not to take a price cut in their season tickets when we were relegated, with director Michael Foulger saying he would match whatever the difference was for the transfer kitty that summer.'

It was money well spent.

Inspirational: Paul McVeigh

Reaping the benefit: Paul Lambert

High praise: Paul McVeigh (left) says Holt is an inspirational figure and Paul Lambert (right) is reaping dividends

Lambert took over from Gunn and made Holt captain and he responded with 53 goals in two seasons as Norwich clinched incredible back-to-back promotions.

Former teammate Paul McVeigh had his medical at Norwich on the same day as Holt and is still firm friends with the 30-year-old.

'He is an inspiration on the pitch and he organises the social life. He relishes it, bossing people around. He's so down to earth that even when we were in the Championship he was still driving his tiny little Citroen or Peugeot around.

'He used to drive up and down to Carlisle from Norwich all the time to see his family.'

This season has seen Holt finally reach the top.

He's proved to be a handful, scored plenty of goals and made his mark on plenty of defenders along the way.

In his current form, a call-up to Fabio Capello's England squad does not sound like a completely crazy suggestion.

'People have doubted him each time he has moved up a league,' said McVeigh 'but he's scored at Stamford Bridge, Goodison Park and Anfield this season. He's proved everyone wrong again.

'I think being 30 will make it hard for him to get picked for England but he has proved he is a natural finisher and is playing well enough to get a chance.'

If that ever happens, he'll have to get a new T-shirt printed.