Photo Gallery: Trafford grateful for Pearl’s wisdom
He calls himself “the Pearl” and much-travelled striker Josh Barzey proved to be a gem as he netted the winner for Trafford Arms in the final of the Norfolk FA Veterans Cup.
The mercurial marksman popped up with a vital goal to secure a 2-1 win over Sprowston Wanderers as the city pub side retained the trophy they won last year in a hard-fought affair at Plantation Park.
Trafford manager Kevin North praised the contribution of ex-Diss and Fakenham hitman Barzey – the team’s 16-goal top scorer.
“He calls himself the Pearl – I don’t know why. At times he can be frustrating but at other times he can do something brilliant,” said North.
“He takes a bit of stick now and then. He probably wasn’t having his best game on Friday but he did the business with the winner so you can’t argue with that. But he’s a good character to have around. He likes a good laugh with the lads. ”
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Barzey’s powerful header three minutes from time secured a second successive Norfolk FA Veterans Cup for Trafford before a 200-strong crowd at Plantation Park.
The holders took the lead with a header by Chris Edwards from a corner in the 50th minute. Garry Hurrell equalised with a free-kick midway through the half before Barzey met a cross from the right by Wayne Campbell.
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The victory saw Trafford centre back Andy Palmer pick up the man of the match award, while utility man Andy Viner was enjoying a second helping of county cup success in the space of five days – the Dog House team he sponsors having won the Sunday Senior Cup at Carrow Road.
The big disappointment of the night was a ruptured achilles injury to midfielder Mark Andrews, who is facing eight weeks in plaster. The former Wimbledon and Canary midfielder suffered the injury when he stumbled and will play no further part in Trafford’s cup double bid, which resumes with a semi-final on April 17 at Kirkley and Pakefield in the Norfolk and Suffolk Veterans League Cup, which they also won last year.
“It was disappointing because we had only just convinced him to come and play again,” said North.
Trafford have already beaten Kirkley and Pakefield twice in the league this season but won’t be guilty of complacency on the day.
“We know they are a good team. I still rate Kirkley and Pakefield as probably the best team in the division – they’re probably the team to beat.”
Trafford club secretary Bruce Derrer said: “We have thrown away our chance of winning the league so it means a lot to come away with a bit of silverware.”
Trafford achieved the treble last year by winning both cups and the Division One title but will probably have to settle at best for runners-up spot in the league this term.
That would be no mean achievement in their first season at Premier Divison level – a campaign which saw them suffer their first home defeat in three years, at the hands of Bungay.
Trafford now enjoy a reputation as one of the best veterans teams on the regional scene but life hasn’t always been a bed of roses in the eight years since they were formed.
Trafford landlord Chris Higgins, who sponsors the team with his wife Glynnis, recalled: “In the first couple of years they were getting beaten regularly by multiple numbers. They were taken to the cleaners on a regular basis.”
Fortunes improved when ex-Norfolk and Norwich City Reserves goalkeeper Alan Arber became involved.
“He was instrumental in getting some quality players on board,” said Higgins.
Results improved and Trafford quickly climbed the leagues.
“They are a great advert for the pub. They are a great bunch of guys and there is great camaraderie,” he said.