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Note that this page is from our Gresley Rovers archive. It may not be related to the new Gresley Rovers (formerly Gresley FC until 2020).
Story posted: Friday, 16th October 1987

Ray of hope
Story courtesy of
Players tend to come and go from Gresley Rovers’ Moat Ground more often than trains at Clapham Junction.
Its under two years since Phil Gee, Rovers boy made good, departed the Moat on the road to stardom at Derby County yet, on a return visit last week, he could only find a couple of names on the team sheet that he recognised.

One of those belonged to a player whose long service for Rovers has been matched only by his appalling misfortune with injuries.

Ex-boss Peter Shone brought towering defender Ray Skeemer to the club in the 1983-84 season yet in recent campaigns Skeemer has been out of the action far more often than he’s been in it.

The 27-yesr-old stopper explains: “I broke my leg in 1985 just after Frank Northwood had joined the club. It was a double fracture in a game against Tamworth. I finally got back last season then, after eight games, I snapped my Achilles tendon playing up at Stapenhill in the Derbyshire Senior Cup.

“It went in October, then on Christmas Eve I was overstretching for something at home and it went again.”

That meant a miserable January 1st birthday for the Birmingham sports teacher, who saw New Year in from a hospital bed after an operation to put the damage right.

His prospects of carrying on with a footballing career that started at Alfreton Town and led to Gresley Rovers via Heanor and Matlock – “I had a dreadful few weeks there and got out quickly” – also seemed grim but if there’s one thing that’s lacking from Skeemer’s make up it sure ain’t grit.

“There was no way I wasn’t going to play again, although it was a long road back. The problem was a psychological one at first. Then there was getting into the first team when I was fit again.”

That in itself was no foregone conclusion, especially as Moat boss Northwood was “bringing in lots of centre halves.”

Skeemer wasn’t the only one to notice the profusion of central defenders at Gresley and it wasn’t long before other clubs were enquiring after Ray’s availability.

“I got a couple of offers and Stapenhill were extremely keen, but I didn’t want to leave. I’ve got a lot of friends at Gresley and a lot of faith in Gresley people. The supporters have been great to me and the club is the best I’ve been to. It’s so friendly and the committee is superb.

“I’ve had to wait to get back into the side and it was a bit frustrating earlier in the season. But the squad’s looking strong now – Frank’s done really well. The potential is there and the skill’s there – I don’t think there’s another team to touch us.”
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