Knuckey leads Buckland Brewer to Journal Cup win over Woolsery
THE THOUGHTS of Buckland Brewer manager Maurice Knuckey summed up the situation perfectly.
"There's nothing better to do on a Saturday afternoon than run out in the freezing cold weather and kick a ball around," he said.
Most players in the North Devon League did not have that privilege at the weekend as the majority of fixtures were washed out by overnight rain.
Knuckey, who lives in Merton, was at his adopted football village for a 10am pitch inspection – and the news was good.
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Happily for the 28 players involved, the North Devon Journal Cup tie between Buckland Brewer and Woolsery reserves was given the go-ahead.
Knuckey, 26, is just four months into a job his predecessor held for four decades.
In the summer, he volunteered to take over from John Adams who had run the club as manager, player, secretary and groundsman since 1976.
"John did it for 36 years and I thought it was going to be big shoes to fill," said Knuckey.
"The club was going to fold so somebody needed to take over and I was the one who put my hand up."
Buckland began the season with two defeats but have been buzzing since.
Prior to Saturday, a run of three straight wins included the Journal Cup first-round game against Georgeham and Croyde – their first triumph in a league cup tie since 2005.
Knuckey may be new to the role but his opposing manager had even less experience. Glenn Dealey was only Woolsery boss for the day because regular player-manager Jamie Robertson was watching Norwich City against Stoke City in the Barclays Premier League.
Aside from a brief spell playing for Hartland, Dealey has been loyal to Woolsery since he came to North Devon.
"Cut me open and it will say Woolsery right through the middle," he said.
"I moved down here 13 years ago, went straight into the Woolsery squad and I have played for them ever since."
Unfortunately, Dealey suffered a cut on the eve of the biggest game in the club's history three seasons ago.
He was part of the Woolsery team who reached the Devon Intermediate Cup final but missed out on the showpiece at Newton Abbot after an accident at work.
"I'm a plumber and I near enough chopped my finger off," he said. "I had to have plastic surgery the day before the final. I was hoping they would just put a little bandage on but it turned out to be a plaster that went right up my arm."
After an extra-time victory over Northam Lions in the first round of the Journal Cup, Dealey was optimistic his team could continue their run.
And they made a dream start when Luke Perry swept the opening goal past Joe Ogijewicz after only three minutes.
Despite plenty of effort, that was as good as things got for the team in red.
Tom Gladwin tapped in the equaliser four minutes later, Aiden Clarke put Buckland 2-1 up and Simon Adams showed his poaching ability with two close-range strikes.
Leading 4-1, Adams demonstrated Buckland's new-found confidence when his backheel volley flew just over.
"If we had 11 Simon Adamses we'd probably win the premier division," said Knuckey.
The manager was most pleased with the teamwork that brought five more goals in the second half. Gladwin took his personal tally to four with a second-half hat-trick and Clarke scored two more, including a sweet left-footed strike from the edge of the box.
It was the latest sign Knuckey's cosmopolitan mix of footballers from all over North Devon are gelling well.
Brookes, Adams and Simon Odell are the only players from the village.
Sam Shears and Ben Dooley travel in from Braunton, Steve Marlow is from South Molton and the rest are all imports from Bideford and Barnstaple.
Gladwin, the former Barnstaple Town player, was a vital addition in September.
Unfortunately for Buckland, he is heading to France to work at a ski resort and they will hope the season does not go downhill fast.
Gladwin could be back for the semi-final, against Lynton and Lynmouth or Fremington, which is not due to be played until the spring.
With any luck, the sun could by shining by then and a pitch inspection will not be required.
Alan Woodcock scored four goals as Braunton eased into the semi-finals of the North Devon Journal Cup with a 10-0 win over North Molton.
Will Dale rounded off a move to give them the lead in the 38th minute and Woodcock (two) and Dan Crocombe made it 4-0 by half time. Danny Ball, an own goal and Ollie Coles, with a long-range strike, increased the lead before Tom Cheetham completed the scoring.