West Bromwich to Yeovil via Madrid

Norman Fox hears why life in a Somerset town is as sweet as Spain
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The Independent Football

Presumably a manager for whom an important match once meant having charge of Atletico Madrid against Barcelona or Celta Vigo facing Real might seriously doubt whether Saturday's top of the table Nationwide Conference game between Rushden & Diamonds and Yeovil Town held much in the way of a challenge or interest. But, even at the age of 60 and with memories of being among Europe's most senior coaches, Yeovil's new manager, Colin Addison, cannot wait.

Presumably a manager for whom an important match once meant having charge of Atletico Madrid against Barcelona or Celta Vigo facing Real might seriously doubt whether Saturday's top of the table Nationwide Conference game between Rushden & Diamonds and Yeovil Town held much in the way of a challenge or interest. But, even at the age of 60 and with memories of being among Europe's most senior coaches, Yeovil's new manager, Colin Addison, cannot wait.

Last summer he came to the conclusion that the travelling involved in managing another Conference club, Scarborough, while living in Hereford had become too much but he was in a quandary. "I wasn't ready for the golf course on a permanent basis, but I didn't want to be staying in hotels for several days a week. So when Yeovil's chairman, John Fry, called me to say that David Webb was leaving and would I like to come and have a chat, I took it as another challenge." His challenges have not always been as comfortable.

Addison has a reputation for rescuing troubled clubs but three weeks ago, after Webb had left to join Southend United, he took over one that, although famous as FA Cup giant-killers, were now seriously up for promotion to League football proper. "The situation was certainly different to some I had experienced... not one you needed to worry all that much about. But it was a strange one. Not many managers leave when they are top of the league, but Dave had the opportunity to go to Southend, so there was a job going at Yeovil. He left me with a good bunch of youngsters who were excited by what was going on at the club.

"I knew that I was still very enthusiastic about the game... I still love it. If you lose your enthusiasm you've lost everything, so after leaving Scarborough I'd hoped that something would turn up. I'd received a few offers from small clubs and there were some others who wanted me as director of football. They wanted to use my experience. But I wanted to be involved - to stay in the game because I knew I had a lot to offer."

There is no doubt that Fry has brought to Yeovil a man of remarkable experience. As a player with a good goalscoring record, Addison, who is Taunton-born, appeared for York City, Nottingham Forest, Arsenal, Sheffield United and finally Hereford, where he started his coaching career. He moved on to Newport County, joined Ron Atkinson at West Bromwich Albion as his No 2, became first-team coach at Derby County, returned to Newport then took his first appointment in Spain with Celta Vigo, for whom he achieved promotion to the Primera Liga.

Atkinson stayed in touch and, having seen Addison establish himself in the fickle and competitive world of Spanish football, invited him to become his assistant at Atletico. When Atkinson left, Addison took over. Managers with ideas of longevity do not join Atletico, so after achieving some success, but not enough to satisfy impatient committee men, he moved on, this time to Cadiz, then Badajoz in the Second Division before he returned to Britain to manage Merthyr Tydfil and then Scarborough.

"I enjoyed all of it" he said."It was a wonderful experience in Spain, where I think I was relatively successful. At Atletico we qualified for Europe. It was a massive club. Of course you can't make comparisons with where I am now, but the same principles apply about 11 against 11, the same ball, all that sort of thing."

He added: "It's true that while, like Hereford, Yeovil had some tremendous FA Cup runs, what the town really wants is League football." The match against Rushden is going to be like a cup tie. Yeovil have pleaded with Rushden for more tickets and now have an allocation of 1,200. "Rushden are the Manchester United of non-League football," Addison said.

"Our set-up here is good. Theirs is magnificent. The club is run so professionally and their manager, Brian Talbot, has done a tremendous job and got a lot of very experienced players who have been there for a while, so they have some continuity. They can also afford to buy players for over £100,000." However, like Rushden, Yeovil also employ a squad of full-time professionals (18), many of whom are teenagers or in their early 20s.

"When I asked Brian Talbot at the end of last season about missing out on promotion to the League, he said that the chairman had simply said: 'If not this season, then next season or the one after that.' It's nice to work with people like that. There is no question that sooner or later they will be in the League."

Having worked in Spain, Addison is more used to volatile chairmen, for whom sacking is the first answer to even a minor difficulty. A defeat by Rushden would not bring Fry to the boil and leave Addison on the golf course, but it would depress a whole town.

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