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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, 11th December 1987

Austin the Rovers
Story courtesy of
Karl Austin will be making a perfectly happy return for Gresley rovers tomorrow. The talented keeper’s future with the club has been under not one but several clouds in recent months.
And his Moat Ground career seemed to be well and truly over after his much-published “disappearance” last week.

But, says Austin any differences he may or may not have had with Moat chief Frank Northwood are now in the past.

Things came to a head after Austin failed to appear for the midweek game with Halesowen Harriers at the Moat Ground, the keeper having phoned Northwood hours before the kick off to say he would be unable to attend.

After that there was no sign of the 26-year-old for over a week. But finally making contact with Northwood this week things became, if not exactly crystal clear, certainly less puzzling.

“What happened was that, while I was out training with a local team near my home in Oxfordshire, I received a message saying that I wasn’t required for the Rovers the following Saturday, either for the first team or the reserves. And even though I didn’t know who the message was from, I must admit that after all the miles I’d been travelling to play for the club I took the huff and didn’t bother to get back in touch with Frank.

“It turned out that the message wasn’t from Frank – in fact he didn’t know anything about it – and he’d been trying to get in touch with me all week.”

It was the Rovers midfielder Jon Laws who finally saved the day by tracking Austin down and explaining the situation. A clear the air talk with Northwood followed and Austin is now looking forward to playing in Rovers’ FA Vase Third Round tie at Ransomes in Suffolk tomorrow.

“I’m definitely still a Rovers player. I love the club – the distances I travel must show that. I work in a furniture removals business and my job takes me all over the country, but I’m prepared to travel any distance to turn out for the club.”

That’s welcome news for Rovers fans, who have made Austin a firm favourite over the past couple of seasons.

It was manager Northwood who offered the former Port Vale apprentice a way back into senior soccer after a series of crippling injuries had threatened to finish his career.

“I started at Vale as a schoolboy but after two years I broke my leg just as I was in the process of turning professional. When John McGrath took over as manager he didn’t like me and didn’t think I was good enough so I went to Stafford Rangers. While I was there I had another serious injury and was told I would never play again, but I had carbon fibre ligament replacements and that helped me keep going.

“I ended up playing in local soccer in the Stoke area. One day we played Darlston in the Walsall Senior Cup and I had a good game. Frank must have been talking to their manager and told him he was looking for a keeper because the next thing he’d put seven days in for me and I was at Gresley, which was step up for me and, as it turned out, a good move.”

Austin’s Moat Ground career reached a pinnacle two seasons ago when he was invited to play for Derby County Reserves. Things didn’t work out and after another season at Gresley he was on the point of emigrating to the North American six-a-side circuit.

“Jeff Bourne, the former Rovers coach, had mentioned my name to Charlie Cook, the former Chelsea player who’s now manager of a team called Wichita Wings.

“I went out there for three weeks and saw a good life ahead but because of my past injuries I wouldn’t have been able to play more than one game a week. They play on what is virtually a concrete surface two or three times a week and I just wouldn’t have been able to keep up with it, which was a very big disappointment.”

So it was back to Gresley where, for the first time, Austin found his place under threat following the signing of Bob Aston from Eastwood Hanley.

Austin, nonetheless, welcomed Aston’s arrival.

“Competition is always good in my eyes. I must admit I was getting a bit complacent because there was nobody else and I think I’ve benefited from Bob’s arrival. I like Bob and I think he’s a good keeper, but I want to keep playing for Rovers.”

A good performance in the Vase tomorrow to seal Austin’s first team future and he’s determined to do well.

“It was a bad way to go out at Warrington last year, but I don’t think Gresley could ever lose again after being 3-2 ahead with ten minutes left. But at least that game made us realise that we were enough to go all the way to Wembley.”

And if Austin has any say in it all, that’s just what Rovers will be doing this season.
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Sat, 26th Sep 2020, 3.00pm (Home)
Tue, 29th Sep 2020, 7.45pm (Home)
Sat, 3rd Oct 2020, 3.00pm (Home)
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