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ANFIELD HEROES SCOTS GREY DISBAND

THE CLUB who gave local football one of its proudest moments have disbanded – amid acrimony and controversy.

Bulwell champions Scots Grey were crowned the best Sunday team in the country when lifting the FA Sunday Cup at Anfield, home of Liverpool, in April.

Hundreds of supporters from Bulwell and Hucknall flocked to Merseyside to see Greys beat Oyster Martyrs 4-3 after extra-time on a memorable day.

But now, only 17 weeks later, Greys have folded – after hefty suspensions were dished out by the FA to both their managers, Steve 'Ozzy' Osborne and Terry Witts.

The decision comes on the eve, this weekend, of the start of a new season in the Notts Sunday League, which Greys have won for the past five seasons.

"It is a sad day," bemoaned Osborne this week. "It has broken me.

"I really wanted to go and defend that trophy. I am gutted.

"The Notts FA and the Notts Sunday League have done nothing but hinder their greatest-ever team."

Greys' demise can be traced back to one of the FA Sunday Cup ties during their run to Anfield.

A rumpus at Birstall Stamford, of Leicestershire, in the Second Round resulted in a mammoth touchline-ban of nine months, and a 125 fine, for assistant boss Witts, who had to watch from the stands at Anfield.

Greys appealed against the decision, claiming the ban was excessive, and Osborne represented Witts at the personal hearing, held at Notts FA's headquarters.

However, not only was Witts's suspension upheld (until February next year) but Osborne ended up with a ban too after losing his temper at the hearing. Greys were also slapped with a 465 bill to meet expenses.

A Notts FA spokesman said Osborne "berated and lambasted the appeal board members, effing and blinding, and stormed off".

As a result, he was suspended from all footballing activities until December 31, preventing him from continuing his duties as Greys' manager and secretary.

Club stalwart Darren Madden agreed to step in as substitute secretary but he spends most of the week working away.

And Greys' problems intensified when several senior players indicated that they didn't want to carry on, citing the fact that, after Anfield, they had achieved all they could with the club and also pointing to the strain of playing Sunday football as well as Saturdays.

Greys still managed to sign some new younger players and looked all set to start the new campaign after winning a pre-season friendly 8-1.

But their off-the-field disciplinary problems reared their ugly head again on the eve of last weekend's Notts Sunday League, Charity Shield match against Clumber.

The league pulled the plug on the match because Greys had not paid Witts's 125 fine, nor a further fee of 23 to cover the sending-off of one of their players last year.

And so this week, Osborne decided that enough was enough and wrapped up the club.

"It just seemed like we were swimming against the tide all the time," he said.

"The Notts FA and Notts Sunday League officials shamelessly got their free food and booze while watching us at Anfield and then they suspend us from a charity match a few weeks later. It's unbelievable.

"They should have had us parade the FA Sunday Cup at the charity match and honoured us by clapping us out on to the pitch.

"Yes, I did lose my cool at Terry's appeal-hearing – because they wouldn't let me speak without interrupting.

"I should not have done it but I swore and walked out, asking them to let me know the result by post.

"I now find myself with a ban, despite having an unblemished record since I started managing in 1994."

Notts FA and the Notts Sunday League were unwilling to issue any official comments this week until they had received formal notification of Greys' disbandment.

But they stand by their decisions and the league's Premier Section chairman Mark Burton added: "It's is a shame because Scots Grey have done the county proud.

"But if they have had enough, they have had enough.

"Without Ozzy and Terry, their numbers would have been a bit thin. And they have been so successful, there was always going to be the question of where do they go from here."

With regard to the suspensions and fines, Burton said: "I think they thought that because they had done so well, there could be a bit of an exception made. But that is not the case."

Greys' disbandment brings to an end an amazing era in which they forged a reputation as the most successful Sunday football club ever seen in the Dispatch district and, arguably, in Nottinghamshire football.

Winning the FA Sunday Cup was the pinnacle of a remarkable run of success. From their formation in 1990, they won 24 major honours, including 14 championships. For three seasons running between 2004 and 2007, they landed the league/leaguecup/county cup treble.

"They can't take away or suspend the memories I've got," said Osborne.

"Every time we played a match away, we always went to the opposition's pub and had a go on their number card or in their raffle.

"It was not just about the football for us. I was about everything that went with it.

"I would like to thank everyone who has played for us and helped us over the years, plus all the supprters who have stuck with us through thick and thin.

"Especially everyone who went along to Anfield to support us that day in April. They were fantastic and that will take some beating as far as memories go."

 
 
 

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