Football: Non-League notebook - Bergara and Brealey team up

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IT IS not standard practice for a club to win a championship and then spend the summer replacing the manager and most of the playing staff. That, though, is what has happened at Grantham Town.

The Gingerbreads, as the Lincolnshire side are known, won the Dr Martens League Midland Division last term, and with it promotion to the Premier Division. However, the club has undergone an upheaval in the close season - thanks to the involvement of Reg Brealey, the former Sheffield United chairman.

Brealey's Antrac Investment Company, the major shareholder in Grantham Town, has funded a full-time playing squad. "We felt it was the best way for the club to progress, to get an edge on the rest of the teams in the Premier Division, and to climb into the Conference," Pat Nixon, their secretary, said yesterday.

About half of last season's squad were unable to make the transition to full-time football and have moved on. They have been replaced, according to Nixon, by "good young players" who have been released by League clubs and are looking for another chance.

Last season's title-winning manager, Gary Mills, was unhappy with all the changes and has been succeeded by Danny Bergara, the Uruguayan who took Stockport County to Wembley four times.

"We're lucky to have him," Nixon said. "He has massive experience and is a superb coach." Bergara has signed some experienced performers like his new player-coach, the former Grimsby midfielder Dave Gilbert, and the ex-Mansfield defender Wayne Fairclough, but most of the new signings are youngsters.

The most impressive arrival so far is the 22-year-old former Darlington midfielder Gary Twynham, who was a trainee at Manchester United alongside Beckham, Butt, Scholes and the Nevilles. He excelled in Tuesday's 4-1 home triumph over Bromsgrove Rovers which, added to last weekend's 2-1 win at Worcester City, has taken Grantham to the top of the Dr Martens League. The Gingerbreads, it seems, are not for crumbling.