Merthyr Town manager Gavin Williams pits himself against one of the most experienced men in football at the MetCoaches Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Former Crystal Palace, Birmingham City, Portsmouth and Leicester striker Steve Claridge brings his Salisbury FC team to South Wales for a BetVictor Southern League Premier South match (7.30pm).
Claridge, now aged 53, begin his professional playing career in 1983 and played more than 1,000 senior matches before retiring in 2012.
He came out of retirement two years ago when he played for Salisbury against Portsmouth in a pre-season friendly.
Wiltshire-based Salisbury were the 23rd different club former Premier League forward Claridge had played for.
Claridge has managed Portsmouth, Weymouth, Millwall and Salisbury, where is also a director, and has steered his team into fourth place in the Southern Premier.
Portsmouth-born Claridge took charge of newly-formed Salisbury FC, a club which emerged following the liquidation of Salisbury City FC.
He steered his new team to the Wessex League Premier title and promotion before finishing runners-up in Southern League South and West, again going up.
Claridge had previously had a 137-day stay at Portsmouth, five weeks as Millwall manager and a season at Weymouth.
When he was appointed Salisbury FC manager the task was to build a team from catch and make progress. Salisbury gave him a chance and he did exactly that.
“With all due respect, the level I’ve played at and the amount of games amassed, I was looking at other managers thinking you didn’t love the game, you didn’t even want to play the game, yet you’ve got a job,” he says.
“I deserved a job more than anybody I know and should have a job. It’s not that I can’t do the job, it is about perception.
“I have had to break down the barriers. I am one of those people have a preconceived idea about. The perception is I mess about, blah, blah, blah.
“It is only when people meet me that they ask me ‘Why aren’t you a manager?’. Such is the difference between reality and hearsay.
“People need to cut me a bit of slack. I am one of those who makes a mistake and everybody remembers it for the next 10 years. Other people make a mistake and it’s forgotten in two weeks.
“That can only be the reason why I haven’t got a job because I have never let anyone down. I have never, ever given less than 100 per cent.
“I would like to think I am honest, hard working, I played the way I am and more than 1,000 games will back that up.”
Merthyr Town Football Club would like to pay memories to those who lost their lives in the Aberfan Disaster, 53 years ago today. pic.twitter.com/ZWcbHG7rmT
— The Martyrs (@MerthyrTownFC) October 21, 2019
When Salisbury FC were reformed following the demise of Salisbury City FC, they had to compete four divisions below their previous Conference Premier status.
Claridge’s success with Salisbury FC brought and offer from a club at League Two level, but he says: “I had an offer from League Two, but turned it down because I am really proud of what we have achieved at Salisbury.”
Claridge’s team earned a 3-1 win against Harrow Borough at home on Saturday with Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick (2) and Nathan Oseni the scorers.
The Martyrs returned home from their trip to Beaconsfield Town having battled to a disappointing goalless draw against the team who are bottom of the division.
It was a disjointed team performance by Merthyr, although they created enough chances to have won.
Jarrad Wright carried a big threat when he moved forward from defence to up front fort set pieces. He headed over from an early Ian Traylor corner and then fired just wide during the second half.
Gethyn Hill dragged a shot wide after great work by Jamie Veale, while Kieran Lewis was denied by a big save just before the hour.
Following Merthyr’s home League match against Salisbury FC they travel to play Cinderford Town in the Forest of Dean this Saturday. That clash is in the Buildbase FA Trophy.
Merthyr Town: Alex Harris, Dan Summerfield, Jamie Veale (Corey Jenkins 60), Ashley Evans (capt), Jarrad Wright, Kyle Patten, Kieran Lewis (Adam Davies), Lee Lucas, Gethyn Hill, Eliot Richards, Ian Traylor. Subs: Cameron Clarke (gk), Gavin Williams, Ryan Prosser.
Superb support once again 👏👏👏 https://t.co/DyGwo6Wat8
— The Martyrs (@MerthyrTownFC) October 19, 2019
BetVictor Southern Premier South – 2019-2020
|Blackfield & Langley||12||5||1||6||16||19||-3||16|
|Hayes & Yeading United||11||4||2||5||19||21||-2||14|