A few weeks ago, in the Lacazette to Arsenal post, I talked about how I had something special in the pipeline, and followers of the twitter page (@_InTheDugout_) will know that that I was doing that today.
Those of you who have been followers for a while will know that I often go and watch my local side, West Didsbury and Chorlton FC. Well, today I had the opportunity to interview their manager, Steve Settle. Here’s how it went:
Me: Hi Steve, nice to meet you
SS: Good to meet you.
Me: So, let’s get started. Who do you think was the most influential player in the squad last season?
SS: For us, there was a couple, it’s hard to single just one person out. Had you asked me at the start of the year I would have said our forward Ash Woods, because he scored a load of goals, and was a real platform for us, but as the season progressed he obviously got spotted by a club at a higher level and left us, so I can’t really say him. So, over the course of the season, I would say Matty Kay, or Mark Rogers, two of our more experienced players. If you look at them, they’ve probably had the most influence on the season overall.
Me: So, what are your ambitions for the coming season?
SS: So, we obviously want to keep progressing. Last year we managed to get more points than we ever have before, so to improve on that would indicate progress. There are about 5 or 6 teams in our league who have really big budgets and will have ambitions of winning the league so it will be a very very tough season. But yeah, we want to make progress on last year and see where that takes us.
Me: You had a few problems last year holding onto two or three goal leads. How do you think you could improve in that area?
SS: Haha, yeah, that’s on me, that one. We’ve done a lot of work, we’ve had a look at our shape and how we shape up. We’ve also made changes in goal, now, that’s not to say our goalkeeper was at fault but there seemed to be a time in the year when the ‘keeper was just having a bad run of form, and Deano is a really good goalkeeper actually, it just didn’t seem to run for him, and it was little, individual mistakes that were costing us. So, we’ve had a look during preseason at how we shape up and how to make ourselves tougher to break down when we’re not in possession, and, fingers crossed, we’re going to take that into next season. I was disappointed with the goal we conceded today*, but for 60 minutes I thought we were really solid, and it’s performances like that that we want to take into the new season.
*West had just beaten Stockport Town 3-1 away.
Me: Obviously in Manchester football is a very big thing, and it’s dominated by United and City, who aren’t exactly struggling on the financial front. Do you think that be working with a club like West you are helping to promote, especially to kids, a form of football that is more pure and original?
SS: Yeah, absolutely. At West Didsbury, it’s slightly different to what it’s like at other non-league clubs I’ve been at. We are trying to be at the centre of our community, and that means we can provide a certain facility or service to the people in our immediate vicinity that they can access, whether that be youth football, or people coming down on a Saturday to support the first team, playing in the pyramid or anything in between. We have a whole host of volunteers that come and give their time and money to the side, as they see the benefit of having a really nice community football club and know what it can do for the local community, so we feel very strongly about that. It’s something that we put a lot of time and effort into, into making sure that we are seen as being a really enjoyable afternoon on a Saturday, or a Tuesday night depending on when we play, so it’s a social occasion as well as being an opportunity and a club to get involved in if you want to get into youth football or women’s football now or, you know, if football is your passion and you live close by we want you to think of us first and foremost, instead of spending £40-50 on going to see City or United.
Me: I agree. You touched on women’s football, and that’s obviously growing quite rapidly at the moment. City obviously have a very successful women’s side. What do you think of Man United not having a senior Women’s side?
SS: Well, I’m probably strangely qualified to comment on this because we have a partnership arrangement with Man United Foundation, which means that they operate from our Eccles centre, where I’m the curricular manager of sport. So, yeah, I think that there’s probably movements for United to review their position. I would never speak on their behalf, but I think as the women’s game grows and the participation rates grow it will advance. You know, we really pushed our college, which has a women’s side, and to try and make sure that the girls have a chance to go on into open age female teams is something that’s at the forefront of our mind’s, and I’m sure that it won’t be long before they review their position. But I can tell you this for sure, the people behind the foundation running their girls’ regional talent programme from a young age, up to U18s, they’re a brilliant coaching network, their services are obviously very very good, so I’m sure that there would be appetite from them, but it’s a decision that has to be made by the board, but I’m sure it’s not far in the offing.
Me: Sound. Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions.
SS: No, no, no, my pleasure.
So, Steve does seem like a very dominative and scary figure on the field, but he was really nice to meet and clearly very enthusiastic about the club. If you ever have that chance to go and watch them, make sure you head down to Brookburn Road in Chorlton to see them.
If you enjoyed the article please leave a like, I’ll leave a link to the West Didsbury and Chorlton FC website below, so make sure you check them out, and any local side near you for that matter.
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