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Working Lads Ready For Forest

Butcher, baker, candlestick maker - the competition that feeds off everyday people sticking it up the big boys, is waiting to induct its latest unlikely hero tomorrow.

The list of day jobs within the Salisbury dressing room range from fraud investigator to chip shop owner and pool attendant.

And with no fewer than three landscape gardeners at the Conference South club - at least Nottingham Forest shouldn't have to worry about a problem pitch.

But Salisbury would consider themselves much more than FA Cup chancers with regular home gates of 1,200 and genuine designs on League football.

Though, charmingly, the club website lists two tea huts as part of the facilities at the 3,740 capacity stadium, the Whites are going places.

The appointment of the management team of Nick Holmes and Tommy Widdrington was an indication of the Wiltshire club's ambition - and they have been rewarded as the pair won promotion to the Conference South in their first season in charge.

For Widdrington - who was still playing for Port Vale when approached to be player/head coach at the Raymond McEnhill Stadium - it was a big decision to step down to non-league.

'I wasn't prepared to just pack in my career,' said the midfielder, who will miss out tomorrow because of a knee injury.

'I want to coach at a high a level as I possibly can. I told them to show the same ambition and I would come. They've stuck to their word and been magnificent.'

So much so that Widdrington pulled out of the running for the Macclesfield Town job after being short-listed, along with Paul Ince.

Instead he signed an extended deal with Salisbury, where he has been pivotal in convincing a number of professional players to step down to non-league.

One of those players - Jon Beswetherick, who had spells with Swindon, Macclesfield and Bristol Rovers - will also miss out with a knee injury. But his absence has created something of a fairytale for one of Salisbury's favourite sons.

In 18 years of amateur football and almost 300 appearances for the club, 35-year-old Simon Browne will play in the second round of Cup for the first time in his career.

Another touching tale comes in the form of midfielder Wayne Turk who once walked out on to the pitch alongside Forest's own Colin Calderwood - but only as a mascot for a Swindon game.

One to look out for will be winger Luke Prince, who was persuaded to sign for Salisbury when a scout bumped into him while both queued for a hot dog.

Widdrington also tips striker Paul Sales to make the step up to the professional game, while forwards Matt Tubbs and Robbie Matthews have courted interest from league clubs.

Salisbury has been gripped by Cup fever with a local brewery creating a special commemorative beer, while businesses have been urged to put up window displays to paint the city black and white.

Widdrington is enjoying the attention as much as anyone else - but is adamant this is just the start.

'Four or five years ago this club was struggling,' he said. 'Now it is booming and I don't want this to be the pinnacle. I want to go on from this.

'It is a club on the up and I am sure we are not going to allow this to be a one-off.'

Nottingham Evening Post

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer:  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday December 2 2006

Time: 6:04PM


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