BANGOR City player-boss Clayton Blackmore’s long and distinguished career took a radical twist this week when the 42-year-old turned out in goal for the club in the second half of their Loosemores Cup tie at Porthmadog.
In a quarter of a century of playing at senior level, former Wales international Blackmore – who helped Manchester United win the 1991 European Cup-Winners’ Cup – has never before gone between the sticks having spent most of his time in either defence or midfield.
However, the bizarre tactical measure, which came about because regular goalkeeper Ian Havard was withdrawn with a groin strain at half-time, proved to be a success as visitors Bangor went on to triumph 2-1 at Y Traeth with Blackmore only beaten two minutes from time.
He said: “I was one of our substitutes and the team was doing well, and I didn’t want to disrupt our shape.
“Marc Lloyd Williams, who I’d also rested on the bench, was close to going in goal at one point but I decided to have a go myself.
“I’ve never gone in goal before for a proper match, only in a Masters game, but it’s all about reading the play and I was like an extra sweeper.”
Standing at just 5ft 7in, it’s hardly surprising that Blackmore has never been used as a keeper before but he hopes he picked up a few handy hints from great Dane Peter Schmeichel from their time together at Old Trafford.
He said: “My main problem obviously was height – I think when I jumped I was still only 6ft but the lads did well in front of me.
“I was only beaten once when the ball took a nasty bounce and fell to Mark Cooke near the end, enabling him to get a one-on-one with me.
“I spotted what he was trying to do but just couldn’t get down in time.”
Although Blackmore recounts the experience with a smile, he admits that he is not pleased with how the situation came about and has been unhappy with the Loosemores Cup schedule from the start.
He said: “I don’t think the Welsh FA have thought things through.
“Perhaps they think we’ll benefit from the revenue from all these derby games but they’re all tough matches and people are putting their bodies on the line.
“Because of the new format, the Loosemores Cup will become the hardest competition to win this season and it’s meant that this is the hardest start to a campaign I’ve ever known.
“Apart from one week, it’s been games every Saturday and Tuesday. We’ve not had the opportunity to train because players have been recovering from matches – I think we’ve only trained once.”
With only a small pool of players to choose from at Bangor, Blackmore has been forced to use his selection policy carefully in the cup.
He said: “I’ve played a few of our younger lads and they came through so at least there are a few pluses.
“We’ve not got a huge squad and we’ve had some blips so far but I think in a couple of weeks or so we’ll start showing what we’re really about.”
He added: “We’re going to lose defender Martin Beattie for up to a couple of months because he’s got to go in for a toe operation.
“I’ve tried to look for a second goalkeeper to cover for Ian but I’ve not been satisfied with the quality.”