Cod Almighty | Article
by Tony Butcher
28 July 2006
Do you remember Andy Pettinger? Ah well, maybe he'll grow.
Latest in a long line of small local lads who last a couple of years as vague reserve team goalkeeper then disappear into local Lincolnshire football. He does look like Andy Pettinger. Maybe it is Andy Pettinger. Loves his line, makes saves, shouts a lot.
Now this lad has a certain je ne sais quoi. He has an air of Mike Edwards about him: a ball-playing centre-back who tackles rather than clobbers and slobbers over his man. Serene when the ball approaches and with a determination to pass to his mates, he has the ingredients in his mixing bowl, but will he be only half-baked when Rodger takes him out of the reserve oven?
Hockless-lite with a more acceptable young person's hairstyle for the mothers in the audience. Fitfully dangerous in a scurrying-little-pest sort of way. He's a midget gem at youth level, but who buys them these days? So old-fashioned.
He scuffles, he shuffles, he hasn't yet blown the house down.
Yesterday's man of tomorrow. For him it's now last year, last chance, last hope. Skunk boy's got the hair, has he got the flair? Needs to hit the road Jack, otherwise it's the road to nowhere: Armthorpe Welfare's calling you-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-o.
When I were a lad the best footballer in Grimsby was Dave Topliss. Four players got taken on at Town from my year group; two of 'em played for Town and for England under-21s and had long, successful careers. Dave Topliss wasn't even one of the other two who didn't make it. He just stopped growing before he left school.
Ben Higgins reads the game well; he captains his year group marvellously, a leader of boys. He passes the ball, to his own team! What more do we want? He's not very tall. Ben Higgins is in danger of being this year's Dave Topliss, which would be a shame. He has the will; will he get his way?