Guest Series: Jimmy meets…..

Another from the Jimmy Langton series of interviews and those of you who know your Bognor Regis players, striker Dan Smith who has been linked with a move to National League outfit Eastleigh is the man in focus below:

JL: Which club have you felt at home at?

DS: I’ve definitely felt most at home with Bognor, even though I was at Portsmouth a long time it was never really in the first team frame, apart from my last year. After my first few games at Bognor last season I felt very comfortable and scoring a lot of goals definitely helped me feel this is a good place to be and this season the fans have reassured that feeling.

JL: Who’s the best manager you have played for and why?

DS: I’d probably say two so far in my career have been the best I’ve experienced. Jack (Pearce) being one of them, with the amount of knowledge he’s had over the years in football for me he does really help with little things, for example positioning up front which is still new to me and also relating what I should try and do in the game to the defender who I’m playing against. Another was Paul Cook, even though I only saw him for a short period, I thought the way he organised his team differently depending on who he plays against was very clever and you saw how it worked on game day and he knew exactly how he wanted his team to play and how to get the best out of the team that was playing.

JL: Are there any role models you look up to and why?

DS: A big one for me growing up was David Beckham, especially as I was playing as a right midfielder at the time, I liked him the most when he was with England scoring a few really big goals.

JL: What was the reason for coming to Bognor?

DS: A big reason coming to Bognor was to play under Jack and Robbie (Blake) week in, week out, which I knew I would do here, as I’d done so well last season. I was hoping I’d replicate that and score as many goals as I had, or more, which I have done.

JL: Did you have any trials at higher league clubs?

DS: I had quite a few offered to me fromFootball League clubs and National League clubs, but decided I wanted to play 90 minutes every week with Bognor this season.

JL: What’s your favourite football club? (Apart from Bognor, obviously!)

DS: I don’t really support a team, my family are mainly Southampton fans, but I grew up playing with Portsmouth so I was quite neutral! But at the moment I really enjoy watching Liverpool play.

JL: Which coach do you feel you have benefited from most so far?

DS: I’d say Blakey has helped me a lot in terms of what is required from a centre forward at first team level and explains when to try things and when to “do my job as a striker” and keep it simple. Another coach who’s helped me massively recently and at the start of my career when I was 7 or 8 is a coach called Dave Hazelgrove, who’s helping me now as well in terms of playing men’s football at non-league and the little tricks you need to know to get an advantage over the defender.

JL: What’s your favourite colour?

DS: Blue.

JL: Who is the best player you have played against?

DS: I can’t think of any from games that stick out for a specific player, but I did play against Sean Coleman on his comeback game after the leg break, but the one that sticks out in training was always Matt Clarke, he’s strong, quick, fit, intelligent and very good on the ball, you always wanted him on your team in training!

JL: Do you intend to go into coaching when you have retired from playing?

DS; I’m not too sure after I finish playing I want to continue coaching, I do a bit at the moment and enjoy it, but I’m not sure if it’s something I want to do long term. I might end up doing a job not related at all to football.

JL: Why did you choose football?

DS: I always loved it from a young age and wanted to excel when I was playing and try and perfect whatever I was working on.

JL: Who’s the best player you have played with and why?

DS: The best player I’ve played with is probably Conor Chaplin, who I played a lot with at under 23 level when he was out of favour, his finishing is unbelievable and in terms of his little touches you can’t get much better around the box and playing with him was a great experience.

JL: What was the reason why you came back to Bognor?

DS: It was definitely the opportunity of playing every game and getting the chance to perform which I feel I have. I still feel I can play better than I have done, but I’m young and still learning and playing games here is definitely the best way of doing it at the moment.

JL: How did you become a centre forward?

DS: The reason I became a centre forward came from Kenny Jacket, he saw me as a striker as I was very good in the air, could finish well and run in behind the defenders repeatedly and that’s where he wanted me to play in his ideal team.

Follow Jimmy on Twitter, @JimmyLangton2

What’s in a ‘name’

Tony Cottee

I think it’s fair to say that over the 20 odd years of supporting Barnet FC for me we’ve had our share of ‘names’ over the years on and off the pitch. I’ve already covered the biggest name in my opinion when Edgar Davids arrived at Underhill, and there are plenty I could mention but I don’t want to spoil a future blog that’s planned!

I’m going back to the turn of the century when a ‘name’ arrived at Underhill complete with a decent topflight reputation. Step forward Tony Cottee, a legend in West Ham Utd colours, a decent record in-between two spells at the Hammers with Everton and a slightly less productive spell at Leicester City.

Having been released by the Foxes in 2000, Cottee moved to Norwich but struggled to make the move work and was subsequently released after just seven games for the Canaries, days later linked with a move to Barnet and sure enough unveiled by Tony Kleanthous as the new player-manager as John Still moved upstairs to become a director of the club.

As it was when Davids arrived at the club, I would say the general feeling was why Cottee, who enjoyed a career at the top level in the game, wanted to drop down to the then Third Division, or maybe that was just me! Either way here he was and as with Barnet on more than one occasion I’ve experienced, this was going to be another rollercoaster ride!

Not involved in the 0-0 draw away at Rochdale, Cottee’s first game in charge was the following Saturday at home to Blackpool. I myself that day wasn’t expecting to see what I did end up witnessing, a 7-0 thumping of Blackpool with a debut goal for the new gaffer and a hat-trick from the current Bees boss Darren Currie. There aren’t too many debuts that can go better than that, and maybe it gave a false sense of belief to the incoming player-manager, who had bolstered a front line already consisting of Tony Richards, Scott McGleish, Omar Riza and Ben Strevens.

That though was as good as it got pretty much for Cottee despite a hat-trick for himself in mid-December. The team always had goals in them from all angles, but it appeared they had forgotten how to defend, goals going in started to be outweighed by those conceded.

Two wins in twelve games from the beginning of 2001 sealed Cottee’s fate and it was announced mutually to end his brief four month reign. In that short amount of time Cottee managed to take the team from the cusp of the play-offs to a side devoid of confidence, leadership and dropping like the stone towards the relegation places, indeed only five points off the bottom and having played two games more on his departure.

Rumours surfaced of players not being fit enough to see out ninety minutes and a lack of leadership from the front coupled with poor training sessions. As we know Still came back to try and halt the decline with ten games to go, but the damage was already done and relegation back to the Conference came in the final game of the season where the winner stayed up, Barnet totally off colour in the biggest game of the season and Torquay benefitted from that securing the win.

Having spoken to Darren Currie this season, a question came up about the whole Cottee experience and quite rightly as a manager now himself, Darren was diplomatic in his reply. Part of the question put to him was ‘did the players not care’, and ‘how did the team drop so low’. The answer was certainly not for the first part and difficult to put your finger on why as it was the same players, Darren’s response at the end was to say ‘he’s never been in management since so that maybe explains a few things’.

Some people make great coaches but not managers, some make great pundits but plain awful on the training pitch, we’ve got a good one at The Hive, hopefully we’re onto something special once again…………

 

Lockdown video interviews

As some of you know I’ve being doing some live video interviews with some Barnet FC legends and all have won a title playing or managing in black and amber.

First up was Martin Allen:

Martin Allen 2

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10156895768227633&id=506757632

Be warned, this one is 3 hours long!

 

Next up was Ian Hendon:

Hendo and Graz

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10156941087752633&id=506757632

And to take us to the end of May is Gary Phillips:

Sumo

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10156980390732633&id=506757632

Both Ian and Gary’s video’s are over 2 and half hours long, but please enjoy!

4th live interview to come on Sat 6th June with another Bees legend and title winner Giuliano Grazioli.

NB Up to 30th May, there have been 3840 views across the three video’s

It’s not just one team

 

non league 1

During this lockdown you’ve found out how I became a Barnet supporter from the ashes and demise of Maidstone Utd as a Football League club, more of that one though in a later blog next month.

Outside of non-league football, I do dip into the Premier League and not just for writing. Tottenham Hotspur is my team and have been since I was about 6 years old. My dad went to Wembley to watch the 1981-82 FA Cup final and came back with both home and away shirts and that was me, my club. At one point in my life I was able to watch Spurs and Barnet on opposite weeks until the Premier League priced me out of the stadium, Barnet benefitted from that and so did non-league football, but who else do I look out for and have a soft spot?

Being from Kent originally I always notice when clubs from the Garden of England do well or stick out a bit, apart from Gillingham that is! One club sticks out a little more than others, and that’s Tunbridge Wells, the reason being my younger brother Steve spent a couple of years there as a player in the 2000’s and on the back of that my dad got involved in the backroom bits such as programme editor and the set-up of the club shop which has now flourished, work he did until his unexpected death in 2011. Unfortunately, he wasn’t around to see the club reach Wembley in the FA Vase Final in 2013 but I’m sure he was there in spirit.

 

Wells badge

I used to frequent a lot of Kent football grounds with him as I was growing up, Dartford’s old Watling Street, Welling’s Park View Road, Tonbridge’s Longmead Stadium, Darenth Heathside’s quaint little ground alongside the railway viaduct and of course Maidstone’s London Road stadium among many others. Of course three of those grounds no longer exist and at one point neither did three of the teams, but both Dartford and Maidstone have climbed back up the pyramid.

Of course with that players that move around from a Kent club to another or somewhere else I tend to notice, and that goes without saying when it comes to Barnet players! As player turnover is far higher these days there’s a fair few that crop up, but then I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

I also look out for Wroxham in the Thurlow Nunn League in East Anglia. You might be wondering why for this one, well it comes from a childhood of holidays around the Norfolk area and on the Broads which run through that part. Great Yarmouth I also had visits to during that time, complete with the continental running track around the outside of the pitch! Wroxham for years excelled at Step 5 level and eventually took the plunge to move up a level to the then named Ryman league. As with a lot of things my dad didn’t get to see them at that level, I did at Aveley before that club moved to their new ground, certainly an experience watching planes take off from London City airport and flying directly over the ground.

Due to other issues the Yachtsmen survived at that level and I got to watch Ryman League football at Trafford Park, again something my dad couldn’t do but relegation did catch up with them in the end and Step 5 is now where they reside, although there is much optimism around the area that Wroxham are on their way back, I did have a visit to watch them planned but of course fell victim to the pandemic, next season it’s a must for me!

Wroxham 2

Locally, it was Wick for many years, now it’s Worthing and a club where progress is being made both on and off the pitch, raising nearly £43K in just over two weeks to go with a grant for vital work to be completed around the ground.

Beyond that little lot, a look for Dundee Utd in Scotland, why? Because they play in amber of course, or orange depending on your eyesight. Going abroad into Italy, Sampdoria is my one. This one stems from Rob La Francesca, a mate I went to secondary school with whose father is Italian. That point though was when Samp had the likes of Roberto Mancini, Attilio Lombardo, Ruud Gullit and Gianluca Pagliuca gracing the Luigi Ferraris Stadium. I still cast an eye out for their result at times, not bad for one that goes back around 30 odd years!

Anyway, we all have our stories of the ‘extras’ we look at for, feel free to share yours…………

Guest Series: Jimmy meets…….

joe-tomlinson-on-the-charge

The second instalment of this series sees Jimmy Langton finding out the thoughts and views from former Rock and now Hungerford Town defender Joe Tomlinson:

JL: Which clubs have you felt at home at?

JT: I’ve played at a few clubs in my career now and I am grateful to all of them for different reasons, however the way that the Bognor fans welcomed me in and supported me throughout the season will stick with me forever and is something I will never forget.

JL: Who’s the best manager you have played for and why?

JT: I have played under a few good managers in my career, but I will always remember Jack Pearce and Robbie Blake at Bognor for giving me my first taste of first team football and to Ian Herring at Hungerford for putting his trust in me at a young age.

JL: Are there any role models you look up to and why?

JT: I will always look up to Cristiano Ronaldo the most for what he has achieved in his career and for the hard work that he has done to get to where he is.

JL: What was the reason for coming to Bognor Regis Town?

JT: I joined Bognor on loan because I wanted to get some experience at first team level. Brighton then let me know of their interest; I’d heard great things about the club and I wanted to join straight away.

JL; Did you have any trials at any higher league clubs?

JT: After I was released from Yeovil Town in 2018 I went on trial at Brighton and Hove Albion and I was fortunate enough to sign for them on a 1 year contract.

JL: What’s your favourite football club?

JT: My favourite club is Manchester United and they will always be the team I dream to play for, however I will always have a soft spot for Southampton FC for the time I spent at the club.

JL: Which coach do you feel you have benefited from most in your career?

JT: There are two coaches that I feel I have benefited most from: Antonio Falanga, my youth team coach at Yeovil Town and Graeme Murty, one of my coaches at Southampton Academy.

JL: What’s your favourite colour?

JT: My colour has to be the red of Manchester United.

JL: Who is the best player you have played against?

JT: I have played against a lot of players who have already done well in my career including Reece James, Reiss Nelson and Rhian Brewster, however Callum Hudson-Odoi is the best player I have played against.

JL: Do you intend to go into coaching when you have retired from playing?

JT: It’s not something I have thought about enough yet, I have a Level 2 coaching badge so it is a possibility in the future when my career is over.

JL: What made you choose a career in football?

JT: I have always had a love for football because I enjoy playing it and I enjoy watching it so it was only a matter of time before my parents were going to sign me up to a local side.

JL: Who’s the best player you have played with and why?

JT: The best player I have played with is Will Smallbone. We played together at Southampton and this season he has made his Premier League debut for the club and scored his first senior goal. I have also trained with the first team at Brighton and the best player I trained with there would have to be Davy Propper.

JL: Why did you choose to be a defender?

JT: Initially, I was a winger for my local side but when I joined Southampton Academy, at the age of 7, they moved me to the back to help improve my understanding of the game as everything is in front of me and I can see and build from the back.

JL: Did you have a choice of not playing against Bognor for Brighton in the Sussex Senior Cup last season?

JT: I didn’t have a choice, no. Obviously it was a difficult game for me to play in as I was up against players and fans who I’d played with and for all season. Bognor played really well in the game and they deserved to win but it was really nice the way the Bognor fans treated me throughout the match.

JL: How did the opportunity arise for signing for Hungerford Town?

JT: The Gaffer at Hungerford knew my brother and he spoke to him to see if I had signed anywhere. Then I went to training in pre-season and then from there they offered a contract and decided to join.

My life goal is to sign a professional contract again for a league side and work my way up to the Premier League. I’m going to do everything I can to try and make it happen. 

Dodd back in the management game

Terry Dodd 1

Early on Thursday, former Wick FC boss Terry Dodd was named as the new player-manager of local rivals East Preston FC. Dodd will lead his new side in the Southern Combination Premier Division when the 2020/21 season begins and I caught up with him after his appointment was announced:

TK: How delighted are you to be back in management so quickly?

TD: Really pleased to get straight back into it, to be honest I enjoyed it so much last year that I was ready as soon as the right offer came in! I thought about playing again and had a couple of offers but I really wanted to be involved somewhere managing.

TK: Is it the same management set up that you had at Wick last year?

TD: Yes it will be apart from Alex (Bryant) due to personal reasons, gonna miss him! I’ve got a goalkeeping coach lined up and that should be ready to be announced in the next week or so.

TK: What attracted you to the job at East Preston?

TD: The club is run right behind the scenes, it’s got a proper set up with the academy to Under 16’s and then Under 18’s and 23’s so the development and natural progression for younger players is there and they want to build a successful sustainable club for the future and it’s exciting to now be a part of that.

TK: How much do you think last season’s experience at Wick will help you going into this season?

TD: I learnt a lot from my short time at Wick and definitely made some mistakes along the way, that’s life though! I would like to think those things won’t be repeated this time around and it will help me to become a better manager.

TK: Have you been set targets for next season or have you some in mind yourself?

TD: We’ve sat down with the chairman and the committee and spoken about how we can take the club forward and progress. Our expectations for our teams will never be any different to what it is normally, challenge and compete in every game we play and to improve game by game.

TK: How do you plan for next season when as yet no one is sure when it’s likely to start?

TD: It’s hard don’t get me wrong, but you have to do it as the season will start on time. Most teams will tell you the same as that, if it does on time and you haven’t prepared properly, you’ll be caught with your pants down rushing around trying to organise things! Least with it planned out you can push it back as and when you need to.

TK: What do you think is realistic to expect from East Preston next season?

TD: We’re bringing in players that want to buy into the club’s ambitions and want to do well for each other, so we’ll see what happens, obviously we want to finish as high as possible! But I would like to think we’ll be in the top half, that would be a good season and something to build upon for the following year.

TK: Are you looking to retain any of last year’s team, or do you have a squad in mind?

TD: I would like to hold onto as many of the squad I had last year at Wick and add a few more just to make it a little stronger, I’ve no doubt that team will more than hold its own in the Premier Division.

Hoddle by name, Hoddle by nature

 

Carl Hoddle

Ahead of the weekend’s video interview with Barnet FC legend and title winner Gary Phillips I thought it the ideal time to look back at the biggest game in my opinion of Gary’s managerial career at Underhill. It was the first full season I followed the Bees and managed over 20 games, what a season though it was in a perverse kind of way, but more of that in another blog!

Let me paint the picture in a brief fashion, Barnet had been a nat’s whisker away from being expelled from the Football League after winning promotion to what is now League One for the first time in their history, the vote didn’t carry but the league gave all the players free transfers leaving the Bees with only a few contracted players, no money and no infrastructure off the pitch.

Step forward Gary Phillips, Ricky George, Stephen Glynne and later David Buchler who ensured I wasn’t about to see Barnet FC go the way of Maidstone Utd. But poor old Gary had a tough job getting together a squad to start the season, but start the season we did just miles behind the others in terms of fitness and organisation.

To cut a long story short the FA Cup was good to Barnet in 1993-94, a first round win over Carshalton Athletic took the Bees to Crawley Town in the second round. Being an all ticket game and unable to get to Underhill from Sevenoaks to get a ticket, a good friend of mine was able to get me one in the home end. On a bobbly pitch with nothing to lose the Bees had to work hard to defeat the part-timers, on loan Chelsea starlet Zeke Rowe put Barnet in front with an overhead kick before Carl Hoddle’s sweet sublime strike from all of 20 yards into the top corner, followed by the ‘Hoddle by name, Hoddle by nature’ quote from Clive Tyldesley and despite a late Crawley goal the Bees were into round three where the big boys come in.

And you knew what was coming! There it was Barnet vs Chelsea, Hoddle vs Hoddle and me vs my middle brother! Glenn of course was now in charge at Stamford Bridge and were not enjoying a great season at the time, Phillips’ Barnet still marooned at the bottom of the table but nothing to lose in this game. The tie was switched to Stamford Bridge with Underhill unable to hold any type of decent crowd figure with the restrictions imposed all season and off we headed in early January, in my opinion happy to keep the score down let alone anything else!

As it was Barnet defended resolutely throughout throwing themselves in front of every ball in front of Phillips but of course we all remember that in the final few minutes it was the Bees with perhaps the best chance of the game, Kelly Haag unable to get a touch on a Shaun Close cross which would have sent the Blues out of the cup, it definitely looked closer than it does on video now!

Phillips and Barnet celebrated at the final whistle, but reflection was short with Ray Clemence brought in after the game to assist Gary as a ‘general manager’. My middle brother, well he wasn’t a happy bunny on the way home that plucky little Barnet had held his team of superstars, I made sure I reminded him all the way home!

The replay went the way of Chelsea 4-0, but Barnet held firm for 30 minutes and were just starting to hear the Blues supporters beginning to show their frustration when the first goal went in, who knows what could have happened………..