REPRESENTING EVESHAM UNITED, PAUL COLLICUTT AND MARK BOYLAND
IT WAS the time of their lives – a group of firm friends calling on their unbeatable spirit to conjure up the Southern League title for Cheltenham Town.
Nearly 30 years on from that achievement of 1985 three of the promotion-winning heroes will be reunited on the touchlines as Evesham United meet Cirencester Town.
Captain Paul Collicutt – now manager of Evesham – and his assistant Mark Boyland will go head to head with former Robins teammate Brian Hughes tomorrow.
Throw in Centurions assistant manager Kevin Willetts and chairman Steve Abbley, also former Robins players and it promises to be a reunion on a grand scale.
And while the management teams on both sides will be going all-out for victory, that won’t stop the great mates from coming together for a reminisce over a post-match pint or two.
“It was the best time I had in football, without a doubt,” Collicutt said, recalling those heady days of 1985. “I can’t speak for the others but I am sure they think the same.
“We were a group of players who got on really well. We had an unbelievable spirit amongst us and that was probably the reason we had so much success together.
“At the end of that 1985 season we were running on empty due to a nightmare run of games, but we wanted to pull through for each other and we got the job done.
“So many of us carried on being involved in football afterwoods, Brian and Kevin did, but so did Nicky Jordan, Ray Baverstock and Tim Harris.
“Steve Cotterill was also part of that side – I remember he played centre half when I did my shoulder in at the end of that season – and he’s gone on to have a pretty good career.
“John Murphy is still involved in the game too. They were brilliant days and it will be great to sit down after the game on Saturday and go back over old times.”
But before that, Collicutt will be looking to build on a promising start to life as Evesham boss, having suffered just one defeat in eight games since taking the job.
“We are on a decent run, but so are Cirencester and it promises to be a really good game,” he said.
“It’s a great pitch at Evesham too, so that should help, it’s one to look forward to.”
AND REPRESENTING CIRENCESTER TOWN, BRIAN HUGHES AND KEVIN WILLETTS.
IT SPEAKS volumes about the professional nature of a semi-professional squad that so many of Cheltenham Town’s team of the mid 80s are still involved in football today.
That’s the view of Brian Hughes – the freescoring Robins midfielder turned Cirencester Town boss – ahead of the reunion with two of his best mates in the game.
And while the Centurions boss and assistant Kevin Willetts are eagerly anticipating the chance to reminisce about times gone by, he said it will have to wait until after the business of the day.
He said: “Kevin and I are looking forward to getting stuck into Collicutt and Boyland that’s for sure. Although I don’t think there will be much sense talked on the two benches.
“That particular era produced some fine people and that’s why so many of us are still involved in the game now.
“We will obviously have a catch up before the game and we will give it everything to beat each other for 90 minutes and then we will have relax and have a beer with them.
“We will professional in our approach and so will they once the game starts, but if Boyland starts getting mouthy, I may have to go over and punch him on the nose!”
Cirencester go into the game having lost top spot in Calor League Division One South and West following a 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Yate Town a week ago.
It was only the second time in 20 games that Cirencester had failed to score this season and Hughes admitted that some soul searching had taken place after the game.
Having lost the services of former Arsenal trainee Jamie Edge to Hereford United, Hughes is looking to bolster his squad ahead of a busy run of games.
“We want to bounce back from a poor result against Yate, that will be the prime concern for both me, Kevin and the whole squad of players,” Hughes said.
“We are looking to bring in a couple of players to strengthen having lost Jamie and we’re considering putting seven days’ notice in for a couple.
“We haven’t done that yet, despite earmarking a couple who we think we can do a job for us. If we can bring them in, they will improve our squad.
“The games are coming thick and fast now over the Christmas period and we want to get back on a roll again.”