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***

Trevor, Ive signed nothing! Its just paper talk! Rocky was defensive, his old
friend Trevor Brinsden was not falling for the act, You cant join them, its wrong,
we need to meet! You know where, just like old times, tonight, be there!
Rocky Race had no choice, when Trevor did not get his way bad things happened.
So at eleven oclock that night, Race made his way to the Vinter Casino in
downtown Melchester. On arrival he was taken through the staff entrance to the
high-rollers lounge, avoiding the main floor, just like old times as Trevor said it
would be.
The VIP area was closed to anyone unwilling to risk thousands of pounds in
an hour. Brinsden and Rocky had become friends after sharing far too many
sessions hidden away in the dark, windowless, faux Vegas lounge. Unlike
Trevor, Rocky had never been a big drinker, so he got his thrills from
gambling, high-stakes gambling. Peter Beck, Rockys former captain at
Melboro, and another casino regular, joked that Rocky would bet on last
years F.A. Cup Final if he could and still lose. But Rocky was on big money he
did not care if he lost. The new contract negotiated between his agent Don
Croughton and sister Mel, who was managing director of the club at the time,
made him one of the best paid players in the country. He finally signed the
deal at the start of the 2001/02 season. Rovers could no longer afford it, after
failing to qualify for the Champions League, but the aim was to only pay out
for one year. Mel and her father believed that Rocky would shine all season,
score twenty-plus goals and star at the World Cup. Then they could sell him
for a record fee and the clubs financial worries would be solved.
Big European teams, Rapid Vrayonne, Atltico Zamara, Morino and Roys old
club AC Monza had all shown an interest during the 2000/01 season. They
were rebuked, knowing Rocky was unhappy with his current contract, Mel
chose to hide any approach knowing the fee for a contract rebel in his final
two years, would be nowhere near market value. But she made a promise;
Rocky Race would be sold after the 2002 World Cup in Japan/Korea.
Croughton agreed to keep his client in the dark, knowing his cut would be far
more valuable next summer.
The 2001/02 season did not go to plan; Rocky was injured in pre-season, a
small knee ligament tear caused complications; niggling injury followed
niggling injury. Rocky would not appear in the Rovers first-team until after
Christmas. By that time, the Premier League was already out of reach,
Tynecaster United and Weston Villa in a two way battle, well clear of the rest.
The UEFA Cup was long gone after a second round knock-out to old Belgian
foes Bokeren. Without the glory of Premier League and European goals,
Rockys market value had halved and Don Croughton was fuming; he could
see his share of the transfer fee shrinking with ever match in which Rocky
failed to score.
In his rage Croughton told all, but not to his client, he sold his story to the
Sunday Gazette. Rockys famous temper could not be tempered. He went
mad; challenged his sister in public, threatened to go strike, but the superagent was gone, fired. For once Rocky listened to the advice of his father

and dumped the conniving Croughton. But his love for Melchester Rovers was
still fragile, once again he felt like the club had betrayed him.
On the pitch there was little evidence of the turmoil going on behind the
scenes, the back end of the 2001/02 season saw Rocky playing the best
football of his career. Determined to win a place in the England World Cup
squad, he trained like a racehorse. The goals came, but his passion was gone
forever. Something was missing, without the fierce sense of loyalty that
drove his father, Rocky was in need of other means of entertainment. Thats
when the Vinter Casino became like a second home to an impressionable and
very rich young footballer.
Rocky had spotted his old friend, on a stool at the end of the bar, Trevor
Brinsden was not one to try new things. Nothings changed has it, Rock?
Brinsden was gulping away at a bottle of lager, Only the prices, hey! Six
quid for this, Rock! he said, tapping the bottle on the bar. Trev, its not like
you to talk about money, are we playing or what? Old habits die hard for
Rocky Race.
***

Portdean recorded their sixth consecutive win as victory over


Melchester Rovers lifted them to second in the Premier League.
In front of a Mel Park crowd still in shock over the news that Rocky Race is likely to sign a
contract to become new Melboro manager, Rovers began briskly.
But after surviving the early pressure, Henry Birch guided in a header from Claus
Ehman's cross for Portdean.
Ehman doubled the lead with a close-range header after another Portdean break but
Drew Powell beat Henri Lamy to set up a frantic finish.
Substitute Richie Lyons had a late flick saved for the hosts as Portdean held on.
It was a hugely impressive result for new Portdean boss Rudi Gruber, who has won all of
his four Premier League games in charge.
Portdean thumped Melboro 4-0 in November on their last visit to Melchester, but the
Boxing Day result is further evidence that Gruber could be the right man to lead Portdean
forward despite the new boss, who is in his first managerial role, admitting he represented
"a gamble".
Birch, who was out of favour under former manager Phil Stevens, has been given a new
lease of life under ex-Portdean and Germany midfielder Gruber and the forward played a
key role in the win.
Johan Seegrun's Rovers side had Harry Jacobs back from injury and had chances to
equalise late on, as well as several penalty appeals, but the defeat lengthened a three
match winless run.
Many observers have claimed that Rovers's recent form has shown they are once again
struggling under Seegrun after a good run halted a stuttering start to the season, but this
loss keeps them 11 points behind leaders Walford and with five defeats in 18 matches,
their title chances are all but gone.
The hosts had plenty of energy at each end of the match yet, after Lamy saved Danny
Luik's early shot, it was Portdean who created the better openings.
Eduardo Ledesma was denied by Nathan Daniels after a clever Modibo Delmotte pass
and smart work from Birch, and the yong forward also held the ball up well to create
another opportunity later in the first half, but Delmotte skewed his shot wide at the back
post from Ledesma's cross.

In between those two chances Birch was more composed in front of goal. A flowing
Portdean move allowed Ehman to cross from the left after 34 minutes and Birch nodded
back across Daniels and into the bottom corner.
Rovers failed to inspire the crowd early in the second period but the home supporters did
make the most of the first of two penalty appeals when Jacobs appeared to be tripped by
Theo Albert.
And the Rovers fans slumped further into their seats when Ehman headed in from close
range to double Portdean' lead after Ledesma's shot was deflected by Bobby Page's
block.

The two-goal advantage only lasted a minute though, as Powell flicked the ball past Lami
from Marco De Loon's clever through ball.

That transformed the atmosphere, with the crowd roundly booing Ledesma for going down
injured before the restart - he was taken off on a stretcher with the nature of his problem
unclear.
Rovers were soundly defeated at Walford last weekend and similarly their search for an
equaliser lacked intensity as De Loon curled well wide when Lyons was better placed at
the far post.
Frustration grew as De Loon was booked for diving by referee Mike Lewis after a
challenge by David Flower.
Jake Cheethem and Page then came close to grabbing an equaliser and the Rovers
players also demanded a penalty when Lami appeared to collide with substitute Jamie
Marshall in the area, but their Boxing Day ended in disappointment.

Man of the Match Deon Ama

Storky Knight
NEXT Will Rocky sign for Melboro, again?

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