March 1st and snow and reet cold weather was all around us yet we still mustered well over 100 members for our meeting and to welcome our very special guest, Nigel Adkins.
First our Chair welcomed all for braving it on such a foul day. He also thanked all who attended our special Memorabilia Day in February with special thanks to those volunteer scribes and the good people of the Hull Photographic Society. Over 400 items were photographed and/or scanned on the day and are now being prepared for our On Line Memorabilia site. Before this can happen there is still much work to be done and an appeal to the members was made for three or four dedicated people to help prepare things and chase up additional information etc. Any OFFERS???
Many items may have seemed like footballing trivia but they had tremendous combined value. A bound volume of programmes from 1909-10 had been on display and is valued for £10,000. Another collection had an insurance value of £50,000. Rob Wilson gave the meeting a foretaste of the future with samples of how these items will appear in due course.
Members were then introduced to Vicky Beercock our recently appointed Head of Marketing & Communications.
The end of season Luncheon menu was presented and members were asked to make their reservations. The subsidised cost for members would be £17.50 with guests paying £20.
There was applause for the well organised trip to the Stadium of Light – well done Barbara. Our next visit will be on Thursday 8th March when we visit Grosmont to see the Tornado visit the North Yorks Moors Railway. Lunch would follow in Whitby.
The meeting then gave a really warm welcome to Nigel Adkins, our Head Coach. What followed was a wonderful upbeat presentation when our speaker was always two questions ahead of Chairman David! We learned that he was born in Birkenhead on 11th March, 1965 and as a youngster would watch Tranmere Rovers and Liverpool. His dad was a big influence in his sporting development. He had all round talent, playing basketball and competing in athletics. He was talent spotted by Liverpool and at the early age of 13, invited to sign on schoolboy terms – but it also meant he had to forfeit his place running for England in the schoolboys network, having been selected to run for his country in the 400 metres. Bob Paisley was the Liverpool manager at the time and young Nigel would travel two nights a week to training via bus, ferry and more bus. At 16 he moved up to Tranmere Rovers – realising that he would find greater opportunities to make first team football if he did so. He was not wrong and made his first team debut for the Rovers when he was only 17 years old – as a goalkeeper. He spent five years at Tranmere and made 86 appearances for the club. Then came an offer from Wigan Athletic in 1986 – strangely the manager who signed him left the club that same day for a new post at Leicester City! Over the next 7/8 years he played 155 games for the Latics. He had some misfortunes along the way – two broken cheek bones, a double fracture of the spine, broken wrist and torn knee tendons – not to mention an inherited sight problem which meant he couldn’t always see the ball! He began to realise that his options as a goalkeeper, blind and broken, were diminishing and looked for other opportunities. He enrolled on a part-time degree course in Physiotherapy, seeing this as a potential future beyond football. He was also doing his coaching qualifications and in 1993 was offered the part-time post as Player Manager at Bangor FC. It suited his situation enabling him to complete his degree studies and offer support to his wife who was ill at the time. Stepping down into the League of Wales was not a mistake as he guided Bangor to successive Championships and a place in the European Cup!
In 1996, armed with his phsio degree and UEFA Coaching licence he was invited to join Scunthorpe United. His multi jobs included being Goalkeeping Coach and official substitute goalie but otherwise he would be the Iron’s new club physiotherapist. The family moved to a house in Scotter and settled quickly into the community. Ten years later when Manager, Nigel Laws, moved to Sheffield Wednesday he had the opportunity to go with him or stay with the Scunny. The invitation to become the new Scunthorpe Manager was the winning offer. He saw promotion to the Championship in his first season, finishing League One Champions too, but were relegated back the next season despite having 48 points. Not disheartened they picked themselves up and were again promoted, this time via the Wembley Play-off. They play off final was their second Wembley trip within six weeks. They had first gone to meet Luton Town in the Johnson’s Paint Trophy Final – losing in injury time and devastated. It took some skill to lift them up for the Play-off Final against Millwall and they were 2-1 down at half-time. His managerial skills were fully tested but he reminded them of the pain from that first defeat and they lifted themselves up and won their spot back in the second tier. The following season saw them preserve their place – and watch as the Owls slumped down into relegation! His reputation was growing.
After a poor start to their season, Southampton were struggling in Division One, sat in 23rd place. They made the approach and Nigel was persuaded to move to the south coast giant, even though it meant dropping down a division. From a small club with a small staff he found a plethora of people to manage – as well as the players. Two physios, two doctors, two fitness coaches, two of everything! What Nigel found is that he was able to bring people together because he knew all their roles – he was qualified as a coach, a physio and as a fitness coach – so instead of each department slagging off the others they became a united team. He took with him his assistant, Andy Crosby, and they transformed the Saints, ending that first season in second place – another promotion on his CV.
The next season was impressive, winning their first seven matches. The club had never achieved that before. Throughout the whole season they were never out of the top two and that meant they would be promoted again, the first Southampton manager to achieve that, and the club were in the Premiership. He had become a legend at the club but it did not secure him his position and at the beginning of 2013 he was released. He had a short spell at struggling Reading, also in the Premier League, but the owner then sold out as they slipped into the Championship. The promised investment in new players never happened and they were soon struggling in the Championship with youngsters on the pitch. The new owners moved in and Nigel was released!
His next challenge came from Bramall Lane, where another slumbering giant was struggling in League One. It needed time to restore their fortunes and Nigel was not given that luxury. One season and out. It would be nearly a year and half before we hear of him again … when Hull City invited him to take on the challenge at the KCOM. Now the future is ahead of us!
Questions would follow from the floor. Evandro’s use of social media to inform us that he was injured (the manager was clearly not impressed), had he ever thought of being a referee? This question followed his admittance that a goalie who gets all the abuse behind the goal and that he can’t see! He was asked about his positive attitude – was it inherited or taught? He felt that he had always been surrounded by positivity at home and clearly shaped by it. Someone asked whether Ryan Mason’s insurance money would be invested in new players. He was not able to answer that one but did say that some would be needed to pay off the outstanding transfer fees for him. He was asked about the merits of Under 18’s and Under 21’s rather than First Team and Reserves. He clearly preferred the old system which meant trimmer squads. The new system provides funding for players who may never make the grade. He mentioned that they looked at some players in the January window who had never played first team football and were still on high wages, or “obscene money” as he put it.
We certainly had a great session and it was clear throughout that our new Coach was full of passion and drive. This also showed when he took over the Raffle and drew all the numbers with rich enthusiasm.
Welcome Nigel and we hope things work out – little doubt he deserves that.