Gorleston prepare for 'cup final'

Paddy Davitt Gorleston boss Jon White is gearing up his Ridgeons Division One troops for a 'cup final' in Norwich's opening pre-season curtain raiser tonight at Emerald Park.

Paddy Davitt

Gorleston boss Jon White is preparing his Ridgeons Division One troops for a 'cup final' in Norwich's opening pre-season curtain raiser tonight at Emerald Park. (7.45pm)

City officials have promised to send their strongest possible squad for the Championship club's seasonal test against local opposition.

Glenn Roeder is poised to unveil summer signings Sammy Clingan and Wes Hoolahan in front of an expected bumper 1,300 crowd as the Canaries make their final preparations ahead of a two-date Scandinavian tour.

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New Greens' management duo White and Martyn Sinclair are confident the hosts will play their part as Gorleston launch the club's 125th anniversary season in style.

"I guess this is a little bit of a cup final for us," said White. "It's a great way to start the anniversary celebrations. For a football club at our level the money we make can help set us up for the season. In a way making that money can also help us generate extra revenue and it's a fantastic gesture Norwich make every summer by playing the local sides.

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"Norwich promised they will send as strong a side as possible. I believe they were meant to be playing a game in the Channel Islands but that got cancelled. I think they arranged a practice match against Clyde instead on Monday and lost 2-1 so maybe they might be looking to put things right - which is a bit of a worry for us."

Gorleston's young squad returned to training a fortnight early to prepare for the high profile occasion.

"We normally come back the first week of this month but we've been in training since June 19," said White. "That was with this game in mind. We just felt it was important to try and get the fitness levels up so we can offer a bit of a test. We want to enjoy it but we also will try to put on a show as well. There's going to be 1,300 odd people in the ground so the lads want to go out and do their level best. If we can keep the score to 0-0 for the first 30 minutes then we can try and build from there."

White was braced for the unenviable task of trimming his match day squad at last night's final training session.

"That is the hardest part for me - having to disappoint a few lads," he said. "For a lot of them this would probably be the biggest game of their careers. You can imagine everyone at the club has been buzzing since this fixture was confirmed. Emerald Park is quite an atmospheric ground so when they are all packed in it should be great. We've got Ben Manning who was with Norwich and he was telling me he played in front of about 6,500 against Chelsea reserves a few years back. We've also got lads who have played in Norfolk Senior Cup finals in front of a couple of thousand but it will still be a massive occasion for most of the boys. I'm looking forward to pitting my wits against Glenn as well."

White admits clinching promotion back to the Ridgeons Premier Division is the club's number one priority after City's showpiece visit.

White and Sinclair have retained the nucleus of Glenn Haylett's squad that narrowly missed out last season and pushed Ridgeons Premier runners-up Needham Market all the way before losing the Ridgeons League Cup final 2-1 at Diss.

"We were four points adrift of the promotion places last season and we tailed away a bit towards the end," said White. "We are definitely looking to push on again and get this club back in the Premier where it belongs. If you look at the ground and the overall set up its one of the best around. That is our aim but if we get to another cup final along the way that would be great.

"Only Jack Marsden has really left to go to Lowestoft. We've brought in the likes of Steve Taylor and Elliott Pride from Yarmouth and a couple of lads from borough football who want to step up. One of those scored 100 goals last season and is a very, very good player."

A small number of tickets will be available at the ground on a first come, first served basis, priced £10 adults, £8 concessions. Main parking for the match is at Oriel High School, Oriel Avenue. There will also be a number of disabled parking spaces available at Emerald Park.

For further information on parking or any other facilities at the ground contact Emerald Park on 01493 602802.

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