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It's grrrreat for Tony

Posted on 25 July 2000  - 12:00

English Barclays Premiership

It's a double celebration time for the Gardner family. In Sweden, Anthony has made his first appearances in the first team after joining us from Port Vale in January, while back home in Stafford, his mum Lolieta has been awarded the MBE.

The 19-year-old made the bench in the Premiership without making his debut last season, so he was delighted with his run outs on the Scandinavian tour.

He admitted: "I'm very pleased with how it has gone. It's nice to get a run out, try to get fit for the start of the season and see how I fare with the first team.

"Last season I didn't get the chance to get on. I was on the bench a couple of times but didn't get the opportunity to play, so it's been great to play out here."

The youngster is hoping to follow the lead of fellow rising stars Matthew Etherington, Simon Davies and Gary Doherty and take his Premiership bow next season. He has certainly made an impression - he received a late call into the England squad for the European Under-21 Championships in May.

He added: "I just hope just to get fit and once I'm fit, maintain my status in the squad and hopefully get a run out whenever I can. I've not come to the club to just sit around and play in the reserves, my goal is to get into the first team squad and hopefully win a place in England Under-21s."

Meanwhile the tall, elegant defender is justifiably proud of his mum Lolieta, who has been awarded the MBE for 28 years of service in the police force in the community and for race relations in Staffordshire. "It's great news for her," he said.

Photographs courtesy of Action Images Ltd.

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