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Dave Worthington Interview
By: Jake Olley
DAVE Worthington needs to intoduction to fans of the Mariners during the 1970s. He captained the 71-72 championship side and made a then record 224 consecutive appearances.
Dave, you're at Bolton now where you scout in France. What does that really involve and how hard is it to judge whether a player is good enough or not?
Because I now live in the south of France, my scouting work mainly involves watching two or three games each week, dependent on the travelling time, as it is such a vast country. The two main areas I cover are France and Spain, as I can now easily drive to Barcelona, Villarreal, Valencia and Zaragosa or Bilbao. I have had trips to Portugal this season and I pick up a lot of Champions League matches in Madrid, Milan and Lyon, so it can be quite varied. Last summer I was fortunate enough to go to Germany for the Confederations Cup to watch some of the top international teams warm up for this year's World Cup. Also in January and early February this year, I went to Cairo for three weeks to see the African Nations Cup, not only to look for new players, but also to check the form and performances of Bolton's players out there. Jay Jay Okocha, Raidi Jaidi, Abdoulaye Faye, Fadiga and El Hadji Diouf were playing for different countries in Egypt throughout the competition.
Judging players can be obvious sometimes if it was just talent you are looking for, but a lot of other things crop up, for instance:-
What type of character does he have? Will he settle in England ? Could he fit into our system, with our players? Is he just a match winning kind of player in big games or will he perform consistently week after week, doing the nitty/gritty hard work that is always required at any level not just at the top? Should we pay a fee for him, or would you only sign him if he was out of contract and wage demands were reasonable? There are so many things to sort out first, that is why we watch any player a few times before making a decision.
Are there any Bolton first teamers that you brought to the attention of Big Sam?
Yes, after the trip to Germany last summer, Sam signed two of my recommendations, Borgetti from Mexico who I thought would be a goalscorer for us, and Nakarta the Japanese player who has figured in quite a lot of our games this season. The one that I am most proud of though is Abdoulaye Faye, because he was playing for a small team called Istres in the south of France, they had just been promoted to the Premier division in France and after watching him only a couple of times I knew he would be right for us. Sam thinks he is terrific and he has been a big success for us. Many other players have gone off to bigger clubs because we were not able to afford their wages or transfer fees, like Heinze at Man.Utd, Petr Cech at Chelsea, along with Drogba, Tainio at Tottenham and Benayoun at West Ham and others but I suppose 'that's show business' as the saying goes.
What's it like working with Sam and what type of players does he like you to look for?
It's brilliant working for the big man, he has always made me feel a big part of the team behind the scenes, he is down to earth and honest and straightforward to deal with. I have a great deal of respect for his magnificent achievements on such a small budget when I hear of all the money kicking around in the Premiership, when I meet up with other scouts on my travels. Sam does like players with skill and ability, but they must have mental toughness as well to cope with the demands of the Premier League. Any team needs a mixture of different abilities and when you look at our team we have a very varied squad, from all nationalities, with differing talents.
Since you've been in the game what do you feel has been the biggest change and do you feel football has changed for the better or worse?
The biggest change throughout the game is obviously the vast amount of money paid to players, which I think is ridiculous. Yes big wages are fine for short careers but they are definitely overpaid nowadays and it is crippling so many clubs.
When you were playing the lifestyle of a footballer was very different to today's modern day footballer. What was it like then to be a professional footballer and how was your relationship with the general public?
I always felt very proud to be a professional footballer and I also thought that I was lucky and privileged, but our wages and lifestyle were similar to a lot of ordinary working class people, so we were always closer to our public and enjoyed being part of their community.
Now onto the Mariners, what were your memories of Grimsby as a place and do you have tales to tell about your time there?
I have hundreds of terrific memories of Grimsby, especially as all my three children were born in Cleethorpes, but the 1971-72 season when we won promotion back to the Third Division was the best in football terms. Travelling through the streets of Cleethorpes and Grimsby with thousands of people lining every street was wonderful, and then as captain of that team, I was especially proud to be presented with the trophy and hold it aloft for all those fans in Town Hall Square who had given us such great backing throughout that season.
Who would you say was the best manager and player you worked with at Town and why?
Most managers that I worked for taught me something, but for the success we had under Laurie McMenemy and his brilliant man-management skills, he must be the top for me. Not the best coach, but certainly the best manager. In fact mentioning coaches there prompts me to say that George Higgins was probably the best coach that I worked with in my career.
I could not say just one player that I thought was the 'best' because so many others would give me stick, but I liked playing alongside different lads for different reasons.
Ron Cockerill for his silky skills, calmness and quality passing, Dave Boylen for his gritty, determination and passing ability for such a little lad, Stuart Brace for his exceptional pace and goals that won us so many games in 71-72, Matt Tees, for his lack of skill, but brilliant aerial ability and unconventional way of scoring goals on so many occasions and many others, like Alan Campbell for his singing on away trips especially on tour in Spain.... should I go on...
And finally would you be able to name me the best eleven players you ever played with or against?
I have played with so many excellent players at various stages of their careers, but Stan Bowles when I played against him for Crewe and Queens Park Rangers was a magician with the ball, Duncan Mckenzie a Grimsby lad who had fabulous ability, and throughout all that time, my brother Frank was one of the finest players in the game at a time when quality was needed at international level but too many coaches wanted bog standard runners and workers, athletes not classy footballers, Frank should have been Brazilian, he would have entertained for years.
I hope this interview reaches out to so many of those wonderful fans and ordinary people who made my life in Grimsby such a massive and enjoyable part of my life and if if there is anyone out there who would like to get in touch with me, please feel free to e-mail me on email@example.com
We'd also like to take this chance to thank Dave Worthington who took time out from his busy schedule to do this interview for Town fans
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