Fakenham youth coach gets side together for Norfolk Senior Cup clash
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Alex Walpole went from coaching Fakenham Town's Under-12s to managing the first team on Saturday as the Ghosts got back to the job of playing football.
The Thurlow Nunn Premier Division side bowed out of the Norfolk Senior Cup to lower ranked opposition as village side Yelverton recorded a 3-1 win at Clipbush Park.
But simply turning out and fulfilling the fixture ranked as a minor victory for a club that had been forced to call off Tuesday's league game against Great Yarmouth Town at short notice when their players refused to play.
When it became clear that the behind-the-scenes issues that had caused the revolt would not just go away Walpole contacted club officials to see if he could help - and agreed to do his best to ensure it wouldn't be two no-shows in the space of five days.
In the end the 24-year-old former Ghosts player managed to put together a squad of 16, with six youth coaches signing up to the cause, and the scratch team went on to give an good account of themselves before bowing out of the cup.
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'I am very proud of each and everyone of them,' said Walpole, who was unable to play himself due to injury. 'There was a decent crowd down there and what they saw was a group of local players going out giving their all for the club.
'It wasn't easy because we hadn't had any time to prepare for the game - we just had to go out and play it - but everyone involved should feel really proud of themselves.
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'I just got in touch late in the week when I heard what was going on and was asked to help out, which I was happy to. I didn't want to get involved in what was going on - I just agreed to try to raise a side to fulfil the fixture. I spent a lot of time on the phone and managed to get together a mixture of coaches, under-18s, a few with first team experience and one supporter. The main thing was that we played the game.'
Yelverton, from Anglian Combination Division One, went ahead early, were two up inside 15 minutes and added a third in the second half (Tom Crabb, Oli Stamp, own goal). But Fakenham grew into the game as it went on and got the goal their efforts deserved late on when Reece Taylor converted from the penalty spot.