BROWNE ON THE BALL: Richards makes welcome return to Boston United

Jordan Richards.
Jordan Richards.

It was Neil Redfearn who once told me how important it is to have young players in every starting line-up.

The veteran goal-machine, current Rotherham United boss and one-time Pilgrims assistant manager has been around the block more times than a runaway car which can only turn left.

It’s pretty fair to say he is in a position of authority to discuss football over the past few decades, and when I once asked him what one of the most important aspects of team building was, his response was emphatic.

“You need kids in the side,” he said instantly. “Kids play without fear.

“When you get older and pick up a few injuries you think differently when you go in for a tackle. But young lads don’t think like that.”

Of course, the experience that the former Premier League star brough to York Street was vital as Neil Thompson’s side overcame their four-point deduction and beat the drop in the club’s first campaign in the Football League.

But with Redfearn well into his 30s by then, there was a definite need to have the energy offered by young legs alongside in midfield.

And no matter whether you’re playing in a Champions League final or for Dog and Duck FC, that blend of youth and experience remains vital.

The same can be said for Boston United these days, their reliance on talented kids on loan from Premier League and Football League clubs has undoubtedly boosted the team in recent seasons.

But this week’s news that the Pilgrims have managed to extend the stay of Notts County’s Jordan Richards is perhaps one of the most welcome signings in recent seasons.

Perhaps the Richards, Scott Garner and Grant Roberts triumvirate in midfield isn’t as glamorous as the trio of Redfearm, Simon Weatherstone and Lee Thompson and/orAlex Higgins were back in the day, but in the National League North they are regularly effective.

Just this week manager Dennis Greene has praised Richards’ return as a ‘massive boost’ as well as pointing at his discipline as vital for the team’s success.

With Garner as the ball winner and Richards often doing a number on the opposition attack, this has freed up Grant Roberts to offer more assists, and even get his name on the scoresheet twice so far this season.

Of course, this isn’t the only string to Richards’ bow, and when offered the chance to surge forward he does so with relish, his direct runs causing plenty of problems for Solihull Moors in recent weeks.

Having Richards available for the remainder of the season is just the Chritmas present the Pilgrims were hoping for.

Now it would be nice for Redfearn to be proven right, and United show that you can win things with kids.