Football: Case happy to be main man at Bashley

Non-League notebook
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The Independent Online
When Torrington travel from north Devon to the New Forest tomorrow to take on Bashley in the preliminary round of the FA Cup, they may be relieved that they are unlikely to find the home team's player-manager in the opposing line-up.

In charge of the Dr Martens League side is a man who has won four League Championship and three European Cup winners' medals plus a host of other honours. At 43 he is still fit, and the passing of the years has not dimmed the fearsome shooting and tackling powers with which he made his name.

Jimmy Case was a hero at Liverpool but now he is a long way from Merseyside, trying to steer Bashley to promotion to the Dr Martens Premier Division - and to at least the first round proper of the FA Cup, the one English tournament for which he does not hold a winners' medal.

Case's enthusiasm for the game has not been dimmed by his experiences at Brighton, where his spell as manager ended last year amid all the off- the-field strife that plagued the Sussex club's season. He was appointed full-time player-manager of Bashley this summer.

So far, everything is proceeding to plan. Bashley lead the Dr Martens Southern Division with maximum points from four games. Case is registered as player but said this week: "I haven't even been a sub yet. I'll put my boots on some time, though. I'm here to put pressure on the players. If they don't perform, I'll pick myself."

Case is no stranger to the non-League game - he had a spell with Sittingbourne before returning to League football with Brighton, and he played in the Northern Premier League with South Liverpool before launching his Anfield career - so he is aware of its special demands.

"You have to get involved in everything at a club like this, sponsorship, the lot. Everybody pulls their weight here," he added. "There was so much off-the-field stuff at Brighton that football was secondary. Here football is everything."

Case is also aware of the appeal of the FA Cup, even in August, many months away from its Wembley showpiece. Bashley battled through to the second round proper in 1994, when they lost 1-0 at home to Swansea. "Getting to the second round was great," he said, "and we want to do it again." With Case in charge, they could be a good bet to do just that.

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