Last Friday (March 6, 2015), YCS were invited to meet Russ Wilcox and Steve Torpey. They both spoke passionately about the club, Russ being very confident that we’d be in Division 2 next season, the squad is good enough to survive and the need for short term thinking for long term success.
Russ was reluctant to set a target for next season, but noted that the first season is always the hardest. He’s already looking forward to our move to our new stadium and wants to be part of it.
He spoke about how the McGill family have brought stability to the club since 2002, that they’re looking to move forward and he is excited about the new stadium, noting the boost a new ground gave to Chesterfield and Rotherham.
A couple of times Russ spoke about short term planning for long term success and the need for building blocks. At the same time, he recalled how Scunthorpe’s chairman had spoken about the play offs this season and that set unrealistic expectations within the club and town.
Russ believes D2 is weaker this season, noting how no team had gone on a long winning run like both City and Scunthorpe did last season and the inconsistencies of many teams in the division.
He put the games at Carlisle (most complete, defended box well, quality of goals, fairly comfortable) and Morecambe amongst our top performances since arrival. Discussing the Cambridge win, Russ and Steve spoke about game management, nullifying Cambridge and pressing for a second goal rather than sitting back. Steve noted how we could have scored 5 or 6 against Tranmere and praised Micky Adams’ post match interviews. From a fan’s viewpoint, given our recent history, we were a little surprised neither mentioned the Luton 2-2 as a highpoint, but when prompted, Russ noted how even the Luton’s players on the pitch expressed surprise in Hyde’s red card. On several occasions, Russ came back to how key the first goal is, but equally the need to manage segments of the game and to react to changing circumstances.
Both Russ and Steve recalled with fond memories a Scunthorpe 3-1 win at Bootham Crescent in 2003. Steve scoring a penalty and our ex loanee Martin Carruthers scoring a screamer. Russ also mentioned how Paul Musselwhite often reminded him (12 times at the last count) how he’d kept 4 clean sheets in 4 games for City.
Russ spoke about the challenges facing Diego De Giralamo in picking the right club for next season to ensure his career progresses and was surprised that he’d turned down Sheffield United’s offer. Describing him as a “smashing kid”, he’d seen him do enough quality things in training to believe he could go a long way in the game, a comment he also applied to Carlton Morris, although suggesting he may not quite be ready yet, but noted how Morris had played 20 minutes for Norwich in the Championship in midweek. Even on the day he spoke to us, he’d been considering loan targets and possible signings for next season. Discussing Diego’s next club, Russ quoted the £25,000 tribunal fee we received last summer for Tom Allan and suggested for Diego, it could easily be ten times as much.
That led onto the merits of reserve team football, Russ citing an example of a very young Scunthorpe reserve side beating an experienced Mansfield side 5-3 after going 3 down in the first 10 minutes. He believed that experience being invaluable in their education. He cited one player he’d brought through the Scunthorpe youth side, through the building block of their reserve side, who was now a key player in the Scunthorpe first team.
Russ also mentioned that without a reserve side, he can only very rarely see the youth players in action as their Saturday morning games clash with first team match preparation. However, he had managed to watch Dave Winfield play a couple of games for AFC Wimbledon. He’d have no hesitation in now recalling him to our first team having seen him prove his readiness in a month on loan, something he couldn’t do at York without a reserve side.
The psychological effects of being thrust into first team action after several weeks of inactivity were discussed.
Steve spoke about Wes Fletcher and Josh Carson and their return to fitness, noting both are still undergoing a special training regime to regain full fitness. Again, both Steve and Russ noted the lack of reserve team football to help their recovery.
Russ spoke of the team ethos of togetherness and the need to get more quality on the ball.
Russ came over as something of a stat man, reeling off stats, including City match stats and points required for D2 safety over the past 10 years. He noted City’s average position in set piece goals and how he would often send both centre backs forward to win more first contact ball and to address the lack of height in the team.
Somewhere along the way:
On the way out, we passed Stephane Zubar watching his parent club Bournemouth on TV but most of the other players had already retired to their rooms, presumably missing out on the delights of the “Blind Date In Venice “ event that was just starting as we made our exit.
I always leave these events thinking we’ve a manager who knows what needs to be done. Russ Wilcox was no different. Don’t expect great leaps forward, just small building blocks as he takes the club forward and upwards.
Speaking on York Hospital Ball (April 2022) Sophie Purves that he was a “great guy”.