THE UNLIKELY LADS
LONGFORD ( 2016)
CREDENTIALS 1990 World Cup semi- finalist. Euro 96 semi- finalist. Scorer in the 1991 FA Cup Final. Two- time League Cup winner. A top- flight player in every season bar one from 1983- 84 to 2000- 01. Quite a lot, really. Pearce forged a well- earned reputation as one of the most dependably terrifying left- backs in England, having been plucked from non- league with Wealdstone in his early 20s while famously working as an electrician. A Nottingham Forest legend in 12 seasons at the City Ground, Pearce also had stints at Premier League Newcastle and West Ham, plus a swansong season at second- tier Manchester City. Then, in January 2016, a 53- year- old Psycho agreed to turn out for Longford – bottom of Gloucestershire Northern Senior League Division Two...
HOW’D IT GO? Not bad. Longford had lost all 18 games, scoring one goal and leaking an eye- watering 179. Pearce only played once for the so- called worst team in the UK, coming on for the second half against second- bottom Wotton. “I’m woefully short of fitness,” he declared to no one’s surprise, “but I’ll give it my best.” Longford had already been battered 17- 0, 16- 0 and 15- 0 that campaign, so the eventual 1- 0 defeat was fair going.
Pearce left, probably for the best. Longford finished the season with 30 defeats out of 30 and a colossal - 216 goal difference.