Pratley answers Sports' SOS call – but hopes not to repeat it soon
THERE was a surprise return to football for Mickleover Sports manager Dick Pratley on Tuesday night – 23 years since he played his last competitive game.
The 49-year-old former Derby County centre-half joined his 40-year-old assistant Colin Hoyle on the pitch in the 87th minute and helped Sports beat Lincoln United 4-1 in the League Cup.
But Pratley is hoping he won't have to turn out for Mickleover again as they travel to Northwich Victoria tomorrow seeking Evo-Stik Division One South points.
"It was a case of needs must," said Pratley.
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"I had players ringing me at 1pm on match-day to let me know that they couldn't play.
"I've seen comments on our forum asking why we didn't take a couple of players from our reserve side, Mickleover Royals.
"But it isn't as simple as that; the players first need to be available and then they need signing on by our secretary, Tony Shaw.
"Both Tony and I do have jobs to do as well. I don't think people appreciate sometimes that this is non-league football and we do have to work to pay the bills.
"And we won! The side that we put out against Lincoln showed great spirit and have given me a bit of a selection headache for the Northwich game – of the nice kind, though."
Pratley came on up front and although he didn't get on the scoresheet, he is taking credit for Sports' fourth goal.
"With myself and Colin on the pitch, there were two experienced voices on there who could help to organise things," he said.
"Chris Whiteley was in goal and I saw some space down the wing. I told him to kick it out there, which he did, and we broke and managed to score a fourth goal."
Sports have injuries going into the Northwich game.
Sam Griffiths was injured against Lincoln and faces a late fitness test, while Tom Gutteridge, Darren Rushton (work), Brad Munn and Martin Smythe are doubts.
Robbie Richie-Smith (ankle) could also miss out while Danny Martin (knee) is 50/50.