Thurlow Nunn League preview: No Tipple ban ahead of huge festive Premier Division derby

The players of Kirkley, blue, are in Boxing Day action at 11am. Picture: MICK HOWES

The players of Kirkley, blue, are in Boxing Day action at 11am. Picture: MICK HOWES - Credit: Archant

Boss Gaven Tipple has got his Kirkley & Pakefield players in the mood for festive football by refusing to play Scrooge.

The Royals travel to east coast rivals Gorleston this morning for a Norfolk Premier Division derby that kicks off just 11 hours after Christmas Day has drawn to a close. But Tipple insists he's not uttered the words 'Bah Humbug' in the build-up, preferring to allow his troops to get ready for battle as well as enjoying the seasonal celebrations.

The Kirkley manager said: 'We'll be doing our best to prepare properly as always but the lads are semi-professional.

'They have got other jobs than football and it's a special time of the year, especially for the lads who have got young kids, so you have got to be a little bit understanding. I'm sure they might have a little bit too much to eat, or a couple of drinks, but it doesn't matter as long as it doesn't affect their performance.

'I'm sure they'll want to go to Gorleston and do well and we did remind the players after the Walsham game (December 19) that they've still got another one to prepare for. Yet we deal very much in ownership at Kirkley. We get the lads involved at half-time and ask things like how do they think the shape is working.


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'After all the R in Royals stands for respect and the O stands for Ownership. So I haven't said too much or made any strict rules. The players own their own performances as individuals and they know if they don't perform the other lads who deserve a chance will get one.'

Tipple, who has managed lower-level Mattishall and Beccles, takes Kirkley to Emerald Park with his side sitting five places above their hosts in the table, having lost just once in nine league outings. Ricci Butler's Gorleston, 10th, are in decent form themselves, though, having won three matches on the bounce in all competitions following their FA Vase exit to FC Romania.

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'I absolutely love festive football,' said the Greens boss, who this week revealed he kicked Chris Sandford out of the club for refusing to play for their reserve team. 'I've said I want Great Yarmouth to come up because my Boxing Days used to be all about Gorleston v Yarmouth. I was brought up with it. But I'm glad we've got a derby today and we're playing Kirkley, one of my old clubs when I was a player. I've got some good friends there and I look forward to having a laugh with them as they arrive.

'I'll hate them during the game, but then I'll look forward to enjoying a laugh and a beer with them after. It'll be the hardest game of the season for us. Godders (Jamie Goldbold, now AFC Sudbury boss) and (assistant Andy) Reynolds did an amazing job and Gav has carried on where they left off since taking over in the summer.

'I absolutely take my hat off to all of those lads. Kirkley are playing some good football, scoring lots of goals and getting results. So we know we're going to have to be 110pc on our game in every position to stand a chance of getting anything.'

Elsewhere in the Premier, Swaffham also take to the pitch at 11am when they welcome Walsham-le-Willows. Wisbech Town's home game with Holbeach United (3pm) in the United Counties League's top tier has been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

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