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Chris Marsh: Walsall right to put reserve side in the league

By Chris Marsh | Walsall FC | Published:

It was a decision that surprised a lot of Walsall fans last year.

Darrell Clarke is right to have Walsall put a reserve team into action this season, says Marsh.

And like those supporters, I’m pleased the Saddlers have opted to re-enter the reserve league for the 2019/20 campaign.

For me, you have got to be in it. I understand the model when you opt against it. It saves money, which then frees up funds.

You’ve also got competitions like the Checkatrade Trophy, which a lot of teams use as reserve fixtures.

But none of that compares to playing in the reserve league in my opinion.

In my day it was called the Midlands Intermediate League. And it was filled with players who were coming back from injury but had played 300 or 400 professional games.

You need those games when you’ve had an injury.

You can’t get that match fitness or match sharpness from training.

And as a youngster, playing against those men was crucial to my development. It was great. Also if you are a player who isn’t in the team, you can’t just sit and watch from the sidelines.

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You need minutes and that is why I was a massive advocate for re-entering.

In my day, if you’d picked up an injury you had to play a few games for the reserves.

You’d be thinking ‘I can’t be bothered’. But you did it.

I’ve got to admit though, I may have pulled out of one or two if the fixture happened to be a Birmingham Senior Cup game.

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This is said with no disrespect, but they were a bloody nightmare. They were always against a non-league side, it would be something like Evesham away.

And those non-league sides always had a massive point to prove. They would kick you from pillar to post.

They also had some good players – so you really had to be at it.

The first thing I used to ask when I reported back for pre-season was ‘Are we in the Birmingham Senior Cup this year?’

But we always were. Still though that was so much better than all this academy nonsense we have today.

You don’t learn anything against players who just faff about on the ball. That doesn’t cut it with me.

Football is a man’s game and so you need a proper reserve league.

Finally this week, I want to encourage everyone to sign the petition to keep Acorns children’s hospice in Walsall open. A combination of rising costs and falling donations means it could close in September. But that would be a travesty because they do fantastic work.

In the dressing rooms I was a part of, we always did what we could for Acorns.

And my music friends Pete Waterman and Steve Jenkins would always send them concert tickets.

Acorns do so much for children with life limiting or life threatening conditions.

I’ve signed the petition which can be found by Googling: Acorns Children’s Hospice petition. Please sign it too.

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