I DON’T agree with Football Association chairman Greg Dyke’s proposals for a B league at all.
I’ve played at the top level but now I’m helping out in grassroots with AFC Darwen.
We are ambitious and we want to rise through the leagues.
But we are also realistic and for now we are looking at a team like Nelson, who have just been promoted from our league, the North West Counties First Division.
But if we were to look further up the ladder we would be looking toward a Chorley.
But if Greg Dyke has his way Chorley, and every other non-league team, would have another rung to climb up.
Before we know it there’ll be six professional club divisions and the rest of grassroots will be forgotten about.
The top clubs can forget about grassroots, because they are so far removed from it, but it’s not fair on the people who work hard and graft and who put in so many hours free of charge, all in a bid to make their grassroots or non-league team better and give them a chance of getting up the ladder.
That’s a challenge in itself because people tend to forget just how many divisions there are in non-league.
So for them to see another division put ahead of them, made up of a number of Premiership B teams, would be a real kick in the teeth.
I really think it would mess everything up and I don’t think it would be successful.
What I do think would be more successful is the return of proper, competitive reserve-team football.
In my day it did not matter if you were a young player or a first-team player, you would play in the reserves.
It was part and parcel of your development and I can remember playing in the reserves on the Friday and then being on the bench for the first team on the Saturday.
That was the way it was – and it was a good thing.
I remember in my early days at Dundee United and playing in the reserves against Rangers and they had two or three first-team players coming back from injury and two or three younger players who were in and out of the first team.
It was so exciting and a real challenge to see how you could handle it against those guys.
And that challenge was still there later in my career. I remember coming back from my broken leg at Blackburn and we played Manchester United and they had Gary Neville and Chris Casper marking me.
Nowadays I can’t imagine too many first team players turning around and playing for the reserves.
But for me that’s wrong and managers should have the strength of character to play them in the reserves, or the development league as it is now called.
It would be a big benefit to the young players they are playing alongside or against.