Grove underline their title credentials
The Grove FC underlined their determination to build on last season's surprise silverware success with a stirring last-gasp comeback as the scrimmaging for early season supremacy intensified in the Evening News Copy IT Norwich Sunday League top flight.
Last season Grove finished fourth after coming close to folding before the start of a campaign which ended on a high note as they scooped the coveted Pink Un League Cup for their biggest honour.
Now the Earlham-based outfit are setting their sights higher, although manager Steve Greening, as ever, is proceeding with caution.
'I seriously don't take games any more than one at a time,' he said.
'As long as we can finish fourth or higher that will be a success.'
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He expects stiff competition for the prize won in style by Quebec Rovers last term.
'I definitely think it's more competitive this year. Wymondham Rangers are also a good team and it looks like Marlborough are on the way back while Acle Rangers are always a well-organised side.'
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Grove resume Norfolk Sunday Senior Cup action this weekend, delighted to be back on the Carrow Road trail with a home meeting with Sprowston Rovers.
'We missed out last year. The club nearly folded and because of the problems we did not register in time, it will be good to be back in the competition.'
On the pitch the team have been strengthened by new arrivals including midfielder Pennell from Norman Wanderers and striker Gary Bee, who has returned after a spell at Earlham United.
Teamwork has been the key to the encouraging start, with goalkeeper Blaine Lowthorpe in particular catching the eye. 'We don't have superstars,' said Greening.
'We just have a good team that is prepared to work hard as a unit.'
Off the pitch the team has received a boost after Stephen Blake, of Blakes Haulage, became main sponsor of the team his sons John and Danny play for.
Visitors to the Gurney Centre may notice one subtle difference – after Wayne Balls, a key figure behind the scenes, decided to invest in a top-class matchball. The Adidas Finale, the official ball for the UEFA Champions League, has a near three figure price tag.
'When it is pumped up it has a bit of a spongy feel. It takes a bit of getting used to,' said Steve.
At least one of the team's players certainly has no complaints – Craig Clark hammered in a high-velocity 30-yard free kick with it on Sunday. 'It was like a bullet.
'The keeper never moved – if you catch it right it certainly flies,' said Greening.