From cleaning windows to playing for Ashton & Backwell - Coleman's story
- Credit: pitchero.com/clubs/clevedontown
Imagine being out of all your goalkeepers and having to turn to your window fitter to come in, save a penalty and help your side win their first ever match in the Toolstation Western League Premier Division.
You would think it was only a story, right?
Well that really happened for Ashton & Backwell United, when chairman Mike Thomas brought in Cleon Coleman for their derby with Clevedon Town on September 4.
The Stags, playing in their first season in the top flight, were without Lewis Coombes and brothers Red and Ryan Clarke for their visit to The Everyone Active Stadium and Thomas admitted he tried everything to bring in a goalkeeper but they just couldn’t get anyone.
“We worked hard to try and use all our contacts within the the game and just nobody was available,” says Thomas.
“I was pleased with the reception we got from people from the Southern League to the County League.
“They were all sympathetic to our cause, they were all willing to help but we just couldn’t get anybody with goalkeeping experience or ability to be available and sign in on time.”
But with time slowly running out, Thomas finally found a keeper just over 24 hours before kick off.
The man in question, 44-year-old Coleman.
Coleman had last played for the club seven years ago as a centre-back in the Western League but agreed a deal to play for, the then, winless United on Friday afternoon.
And on Saturday morning, following his shift, where he was supposed to be working all day as Thomas' window fitter, he turned out for The Seasiders, after buying some goalkeeping gloves and a pair of football boots.
Coleman was in the thick of action straight away after the hosts had the first chance of the game, with the score at 0-0, after former Clevedon forward Joel Bayliss had tripped Sam Iles in the box to leave Archie Ferris with the chance to open the scoring.
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However, Ferris saw his effort saved by the stand-in goalkeeper.
“I’ve always been good saving penalties and he gave me the eyes to go the other way and I thought he would double bluff me, which he did, and went the way I went,” Coleman said.
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The penalty miss spurred on A & B to take the lead through Bradley Skidmore’s side-footed finish after half an hour, before Syd Camper levelled the scores via the underside of the bar, to send both sides into the break all square.
However, Leon Clayton-Clarke nipped in to restore United’s lead out of nothing after the interval as Clevedon’s goalkeeper Harley Wilkinson was slow off his line before Ethan Feltham once again levelled the scores for the second time in the contest.
But Joe Bishop ensured Ashton & Backwell would grab the bragging rights after he scored the winner with two minutes left, when he poked home after the hosts failed to clear their lines and ensure the visitors picked up their first league win of the season on the seventh attempt.
“I was slightly apprehensive to start with because I haven’t played properly in goal, I haven’t played that high of a standard in goal,” said Coleman.
“I’ve always been competitive when I’ve played, it was always in my nature to do my best and lucky enough we came out with the win as well.
“It was brilliant, absolutely brilliant. I was buzzing after, I had a drink at their club, went back to out club, joined in the celebrations. The reserves won (4-1 against Castle Cary FC) as well. It was a great day.
“I said I will always be there to help them out. I went and watched them Tuesday night (against Bitton) and I thought they were unlucky. If I’m not playing the rest of the season I will watching a few more games as well.”
Thomas added: “I don’t think Clevedon quite believed us and I won’t do him an injustice but saying you are on the bottom of the list, you are scraping the barrel.
“But what a personality, he saw the club was struggling, he signed on quite willing to go in goal. He certainly looks the part, he’s a big fit lad but I don’t think Clevedon realised quite who it was.
“To go in, save a penalty, save a couple of other shots, we were a bit fortunate with some of Clevedon’s finishing. We must have made three, maybe four defensive blocks where our defenders put their bodies on the line to save certain goals.
“We rode our luck but you only get the good luck when you work hard. You don’t put it in the luck don’t come your way and it was quite a fairytale to come off the pitch and win 3-2."