North Ferriby’s new club will be plying their trade in the NCEL Division One since their formation around a month ago after the demise of NFU towards the end of last season.
And as has been these for a few weeks now, Stephen Burgess (interview extrondinare) got in his car and chatted to assistant manager Paul Robson, and things are certainly looking up.
Stephen Burgess, Interviewer: I’ve travelled down to North Ferriby, who are now in the NCEL One. Today I’ve got their Manager, Paul Robson, and I’d like to thank him very much for coming down and spending a little bit of time with me. A new season, a new club. Well, not a new club for you but back at Ferriby. I know you said you’d had offers at Bridlington but it must have been a very hard job to turn down, this?
Paul Robson: I wanted to stay local; that was the plan. Then when I got the opportunity, when Bolds got in touch again about coming back to the club, Les coming back and a lot of things happening here, it was a very easy decision. I really enjoy it with Bolds. I think we bounce off each other really well. We demand the same things on and off the pitch, which I think the lads get. It’s exciting times ahead! Looking forward to it.
In the Humber Premier League, there’s a North Ferriby Athletic that’s in there. Are they going to be a part of you, as a backup, a reserve team? Are they going to North Ferriby Reserves or are they sticking to their name?
We are going to use them, without a doubt. Luckily I’ve done a lot of work with the youth at North Ferriby; I’ve done the Sixteens and even younger than that so I know there’s talent. Without doubt there’s talent around the local area. It would be brilliant just to work them through that system, through the reserves and the first team. We’ve spoken with Les and Bolds as well that we want to give them a chance, give them an opportunity.
I’d love to go down there and do more sessions with the reserves, involve some of the lads with our first team and go from there because that’s how we find hidden gems. Like your Luke Lofts, like last season. I mean that kid’s just… he can go as high as he wants and he came from around that.
Tell me a little bit about how you felt when North Ferriby United got told they had to go. To finish like they did, how disappointing was it for you not to finish the season?
I thought then me and Bolds were here we really gave a good account of ourselves. I think a lot of the fans understood that and the players definitely got it because a lot of them are coming back to play for us again. It was a shame what happened to the club. I know Jamie was trying to do his best but there were a lot of things going on in the background that just came to the forefront really. Les took the reins and it seems to be going from strength to strength at the moment.
You had a little spell last season at Hall Road Rangers. Why would you want to go there at the end of the season? Was it to help them out?
My playing days are done! I get injured more than anyone. I know a lot about Bill, Wattsy. I’ve heard great things about them from lads who’ve played under him before at Barton etc. It’s so close to my home I thought it might be nice to finish the season with a local team near myself, go work under Bill and it was brilliant. A great experience. We didn’t get what we wanted but there were some great lads down there and I really, really enjoyed my time with Bill. He’s a top, top man who knows the game. For me, we didn’t get the result we wanted but the experience: I learned a lot and got good friends from it.
You’ve given up football altogether and you’re just going to manage? You’re not going to be a player-manager?
No, no no! It’s one of those, people always telling me to come back but I can’t! I just get injured all the time. [Laughs.]
I was talking to Brett Agnew down at Bridlington at the start of the season when he took over at Brid. I know he said he had an injury at the time and he said he wanted to be the manager and create football but it got the better of him he ended up playing at the end of the season.
I could probably come and do a little job for twenty minutes if someone gets injured but I think I’ve had that many injures in the last two/threes seasons, it’s one of those where I know as a player that it’s time to just take a back step and let the young lads do their thing because they’ve got the legs. Do you know what I mean?
You said you saw my interview with Andy Watts and the question about players not signing until 01 July. On social media you’ve got five players signed up.
They’re giving us their word and we trust their word. It is their word. It’s agreed terms; we’ve come to an agreement of the deal and obviously pen isn’t to paper just yet but the deal is there.
Aren’t you worried about them maybe getting a better deal between now and July?
No. When you sit down and speak to the lads – I mean we’re still speaking to the lads whose agreement is still not just there – but when you do the handshake, you look them in the face, you do the meeting and they’re happy with what they’re getting, it’s virtually a done deal.
When you were in the EvoStik you had Scarborough, Whitby – a bit of travelling – but here you’ve got more local teams, more local derbies. You’ve got Hall Road, East Hull FC and then Barton. You will be one of the favourites for promotion with the budget that you’ve got. Are you looking forward to the derbies?
Yes, it’s brilliant. Last season was really good when I went to Hall Road, Barton and Brid. It’s nice to play against local teams. It gives you that extra kick as a player and as a coach and manager. I think this season the travelling is a lot less, which will help but it’s really nice to get more local derbies, even the ones across the water, like Brigg and Winterton. They’ll be nice games, good teams so yes, really looking forward to it. The fans enjoy it as well, don’t they?
Are we going down in price on the turnstiles?
I’m not too sure, to be fair. I think it is, actually. I’ve heard around that it might be because we’re dropping the level. We’re a new team starting again, starting in the lower leagues but yes, we’ll see.
The average price in Division One is £5 entrance fee.
It’s going to be around that. It’s going to be good because I think you’ve got a lot of interest from the fans when United did end and FC started. It’ll be good to see the fans show up and the kits have just been released yesterday. They look brilliant. They look really, really good so… it’s good times!
One final question, was the favourite ground you’d been to last season?
From last season… ooh, there’s a lot of grounds! At the end of the season I’ll say Worksop was a nice little ground, good atmosphere.
I saw you’ve got a game at Barton to play away but there was another fixture. Who is that against?
There are a few popping up. We’ve got a few games in the pipeline that haven’t been fully confirmed yet. I think Sunthorpe Under-23s should be on the Monday, 29th… around that date. That depends on their cup. They’ve got a local cup out there. We play Grimsby the Saturday before it.
Are you in the cups?
We’re sorting this out at the moment. There’s no final answer yet but we’re just trying to hear back. Obviously being a new club, we’re trying to hear about what cups we are involved in so, at the moment, it’s a bit up and down. Cup games are big, especially for the boys so as soon as it’s announced and as soon as we find out we’ll let everyone know.