Ronnie Glavin, the former Celtic and Scotland midfield player, grows tired of people asking: "Where's Emley?" For the first time the answer he can give them is: "In the second round of the FA Cup."
On Saturday Glavin takes his UniBond League club from a hilltop village just outside Huddersfield to Lincoln City, where he aims to win a third- round place in the most famous club competition of them all.
The village may have a long history and a well known landmark - a huge television mast dominates the local skyline - but the football club has rarely hit the heights in its 94-year history. Ten seasons ago Emley lost 1-0 to Colne Dynamoes in the FA Vase final at Wembley. Six years ago, on their only previous appearance in the first round of the FA Cup before this season, they lost to Bolton in a home tie switched to Huddersfield's ground.
Most of the credit for their current success goes to Glavin, one of Jock Stein's managerial disciples. Now 46, Glavin played for six seasons under Stein at Celtic, where he won League and cup medals plus one international cap (in a friendly against Sweden in 1977). He later joined Barnsley, where he eventually became youth team manager, and also had jobs at Stockport and Rochdale before becoming Emley's manager three years ago.
Glavin's playing career took off when he starred in a young Partick Thistle team that won the League Cup in 1971 against Stein's Celtic. He was already learning the managerial trade, running teams in Easterhouse.
"Davie McParland was a big influence on me at Firhill but obviously Jock Stein opened my eyes to a lot of things when I joined Celtic," he said. "Jock was the man and I have to give him credit for the way he coached and managed. I learned from him how to take things from the game."
At Emley Glavin has built a team on a weekly wage bill of less than pounds 1,000. He said: "I go for a certain type of player, a winner. I don't suffer fools or actors. They are no use to us. The players have got to be passionate and I like to think I can identify them.
"Our success has not just suddenly happened. We nearly won the league last season and have been building up steadily. Before I came they hadn't sold a player for 10 years. I've moved two on to Football League clubs already, Lee Hurst [to Huddersfield] and Colin Alcide [to Lincoln]. We've used the money wisely and now have 10 teams at different levels.
"However I have still got lads out there who make just pounds 15 a game. We simply don't have money because of the size of the club and gates of about 200. We have to work with the players. I take them on when they have been rejected or discarded.
"I couldn't have played at this standard myself, but the players don't want to hear me telling them stories about the good old days at Celtic. I can draw on experience though and tell them little things that might help them in a game."
Glavin has a nucleus of seasoned men like Ian Banks, his one-time prodigy at Barnsley, the former Manchester United prospect, Deiniol Graham, and the former Derbyshire wicketkeeper, Chris Marples.
However, it is the likes of Glyn Hurst that make Glavin's name as a shrewd spotter of talent. Signed by Terry Venables at Tottenham, Hurst moved to Barnsley but was freed at the age of just 20.
Glavin said: "I saw his pace and his power and his willingness to work and learn. I saw his first touch was poor and worked on him. He says that never happened before."
Glavin would love a chance at a bigger club, but it has to be right to tempt him to give up his lifestyle. He works for Nike, signing up young players and organising the sportswear firm's popular coaching camps.
He is philosophical about his managerial job prospects. "I got interviewed for Hartlepool once, but Cyril Knowles got the job. You will never get a chance these days if you were an ordinary player or unless you are an assistant waiting and hoping that the manager gets sacked.
"Anyway I wouldn't go to a Rotherham or a Doncaster. I would love a club with potential like Hull City where you have something to work with."Reuse content