Neil Grayson celebrates 50th birthday in style for Glapwell

Welbeck FC (Black & White kit) V Glapwell (Yellow kit) Glapwell player Neil Grayson Celebrated his 50th Birthday & celebrated by scoring the First goal of the match. Neil Grayson, playing for Glapwell on his 50th Birthday
Welbeck FC (Black & White kit) V Glapwell (Yellow kit) Glapwell player Neil Grayson Celebrated his 50th Birthday & celebrated by scoring the First goal of the match. Neil Grayson, playing for Glapwell on his 50th Birthday

Neil Grayson has made a habit of celebrating in style and saw no other option when he marked his 50th birthday with a goal for Glapwell.

A first time hit from the edge of the penalty area that flew in to the top corner of the net was a finish which will live long in the memory.

Welbeck FC (Black & White kit) V Glapwell (Yellow kit) Glapwell player Neil Grayson Celebrated his 50th Birthday & celebrated by scoring the First goal of the match. Neil Grayson (Glapwell) completing a somersault after scoring the first goal

Welbeck FC (Black & White kit) V Glapwell (Yellow kit) Glapwell player Neil Grayson Celebrated his 50th Birthday & celebrated by scoring the First goal of the match. Neil Grayson (Glapwell) completing a somersault after scoring the first goal

A front flip to boot may not have the somersault of years gone past but was still an acrobatic manoeuvre requiring great technical ability.

”And I still played the full 90,” said Grayson, who plied his trade with Rowntree Mackintosh before signing for Doncaster Rovers at the age of 25.

“When you get to a certain age you start to think it’s not going to happen but my chance came and I wanted to make the most of it,” he said.

Spells at Chesterfield, Northampton and Hereford followed before he settled at Cheltenham Town and really made his name with 52 goals in 179 games.

He became a cult hero during four seasons at Whaddon Road and helped the club achieve promotion in to the Football League in 1998-99.

A scorching 30-yard volley for the Robins against Plymouth Argyle, 15 years ago this month, etched his name in to club folklore, along with elaborate goal celebrations from dance routines to swan dives.

“I caught it so sweetly, as soon as I hit it I knew it was in,” he said. “It was a special feeling and the look on the goalkeeper’s face was priceless as he watched it go over his head.

“The ball never touched the floor, it was straight from the goalkeeper’s kick and I caught it just right.”

And, what about the celebration that followed?

“We’d played at Northampton the week before and the striker there hit the post with his hands in frustration, that’s where the celebration came from.

“Somehow Soccer AM got hold of it and said if we’d do a different celebration every time we score, they’d dedicate some of the show to Cheltenham Town. It was a bit of fun.”

“Nowadays I just try to get back to the half-way line! I did a front flip on Saturday, didn’t want to risk the somersault, though I’ve done that before, and still played the full 90.” His appetite for the game remains as strong as ever and, in recent years, he managed Stafford Rangers, scoring in a play-off final victory that sealed promotion to the Conference.

A striker by trade, Grayson has played at centre-half this season for Glapwell and even donned the goalkeeping gloves in a sparkling 25-year association with the beautiful game.

“I’ve always been a hard worker and continue to take that in to my game. I still like to make the runs and Saturday was my fourth goal of the season, from five game up front,” he said.

“I’ve played centre-half a couple of times this season. Played in goal at one stage too - eight games, I couldn’t quite keep a clean sheet but we won seven and drew one.”

He has been charged with managerial responsibilities in the past and is the current assistant at Hall Corner but he has no intention of hanging up his boots in the near future.

“I’m concentrating on playing,” he added. “I don’t mind helping out when I need to but while the legs are still all right, I’m happy to keep on playing and not hindering the team.

“I’ve made a lot of friends over the years and the camaraderie is something special.

“To get a goal on Saturday was just the icing on the cake.

“I love playing, it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.

“There’s nothing like it to be honest, no better feeling.”