Friday, 18 May 2012

Interview with Ian Bryson - Part 3 (A Champion Captain)

As we left Part 2, Ian had been approached by Dave Bassett to see if he would be interested in following up an enquiry from Rotherham United. Taken aback that Bassett was happy to let him go, Ian asked for his name to be circulated.

You ended up at Barnsley but only stayed three months?

I spoke to Viv Anderson and Danny Wilson and they were quite keen. Whether it was the right move for me who knows? I don’t think I should have left United, but Bassett didn’t really want to keep me. I signed and played most of the games, they wanted to play me as a striker, but although I had covered there for United it wasn't my natural position. I was only there 4 or 5 months. They were keen to sign Andy Payton from Celtic and Viv said they needed to move a player on to do it and Preston had made an offer for me.

I spoke to John Beck and, for some mad reason, I came to Preston. That meant me dropping a couple of divisions; it was a big change although they were flying at that time. I had come across John Beck before when he was at Cambridge, it was one of the hardest games I had ever played in, so I knew what to expect in terms of the pace of the game and how he played it.

The upside of this period was that making two moves in a year was an opportunity to make a little bit of money.

Preston were in a slump at the time, but they were soon heading in the right direction.

Yes, in the first season (1993-94) we reached the play off final versus Wycombe Wanderers at Wembley - so I did get my chance to play at Wembley and I scored the first goals as well. It was an overhead kick. I had mucked around in training, but I only ever tried it once on the pitch and I scored from it! I can claim a 100% record. I don’t know now what made me do it. I had a lot of family down from Scotland to watch me and they had all backed me to score first. I think they were still celebrating when Wycombe went up the other end and scored. We didn’t win and we didn’t deserve to, on the day Wycombe were the better side.

You can see the goal at about 30 seconds on this video clip here

It was play-offs again the following season.

The next season we lost to Bury in the play-off semi-final and we then followed it with a title winning season in 1995-96 when I was made captain. It was a big honour. John Beck had left, although he had brought some good players in, and his assistant Gary Peters had taken over. There was no point trying to change the style of play to be like a Barcelona so he just tweaked it here and there. It was a fabulous season we scored over 100 goals.

We had a good social life and great team spirit. Team spirit is the key thing, if you have eleven lads who work for the manager and each other you can achieve a lot. If there are good players involved you can go a long way. We played attractive football and scored a lot of goals. I think Andy Saville and Steve Wilkinson got 30 apiece and the midfielders were getting into double figures. Everything seemed to fit together.

A bit like at United then in that respect. In that second season you had a soon to be famous player join on loan?

Yes, David Beckham played 5 games for us, he was a great lad. Every credit to him when we won promotion at Leyton Orient, David came along to support the team and came to congratulate us all in the dressing room afterwards; a great lad. I’ve seen him a few times since. When I was doing my coaching badges, he was at Manchester United and when he saw me he always made a point of coming over for a chat. He remembered his time at Preston well.

Didn’t he take over dead-ball duties from you?

Yeah one or two of us thought we were the bee’s knees. When you’re an experienced pro of 33/34 you think you can do everything. This young whipper-snapper comes in from Man United and he is put on corners and free kicks and we thought this is not happening; we’ve been doing this for years! Within half a game we realised why! He could put the ball on a sixpence.

Fantastic lad, fantastic player and every credit is due for what he achieved.

You had a spell at Rochdale, but is it fair to say it didn’t work out as hoped?

Graham Barrow gave me a two year contract, but I hit a real bad spell with injuries. I think I played just 8 times in my first season and 25 games in the second season. It was a case of picking up the typical injuries for old men - calves and hamstring related. With one game to go in the season Graham was sacked and I got the job of caretaker for one game a 1-1 draw. Steve Parkin was then appointed manager and he released me. He wanted his own players in and injuries had taken their toll, it was fair enough.

I continued playing with Bamber Bridge in the Unibond League and amazingly, given the two seasons I'd just had with injuries, I played 58 games in a row. We had a great season and reached the second round of the FA Cup before a 1-0 defeat against Cambridge United thanks to a dodgy refereeing decision that led to a penalty which they scored.

Did you have a spell coaching once your playing career finished?

Gary Peters offered me a role coaching at the Preston North End Centre of Excellence which I did for 4/5 years, but I stopped when my son was 11. He was playing with a local boys' team and I wanted to watch him and support him and I couldn't do that with the Centre of excellence job as the matches clashed on a Sunday morning. I helped out at the training sessions, but didn't interfere, it wasn't my place.

To be honest am not a great believer in the Centre of Excellence model starting with players at 8 years old. It should be 14 or 15 years old and that's the age I worked with at PNE. It was incredibly hard telling players that they aren't going to make it.

So what are you up to now?

Now, I do press work for Radio Lancashire, sometimes on commentaries, but more often on the Friday night preview programme.  I also work for Premier League Productions who supply the coverage for Sky's Football First and for overseas coverage as well. I am based in the tunnel talking to the 4th official communicating back to the studio in London what is happening with potential subs, injuries, what's happening on the bench so the commentary appears seamless. I usually move between matches at the Reebok, the DW and Ewood Park. It's great; I get paid to watch Premier League football. 

Looking back to when you were through the tunnel and on the pitch, what are your best memories?

From a personal point of view, to say which was the highlight of my career is quite difficult. My time at United and Preston were similar in many ways. Although yes I got my only medal and lifted a trophy as Captain at Preston, I got to play at the top level with United and had two successive promotions. Sadly that was a time when the runners-up, as we were twice, got absolutely nothing. Meanwhile, the play off winners got them! 

And that is where our chat finished and we returned to watching the second half of Bolton v Spurs, from the comfort of our respective armchairs. Not tonight the Reebok tunnel for Ian. It was a pleasure talking to Ian, or Jock as we commonly referred to him during his time at United. He retains a humility that I have encountered in all the United players of that era that I’ve had the opportunity to speak to. To me, and many others who had the pleasure of watching him play, he remains a player much under-rated given his goal-scoring and wing play. Even, if he had picked up that further recognition, I doubt it would have changed him.  

No comments:

Post a Comment