CONCORD RANGERS boss, Danny Scopes, confessed that he has had to be a little more than just a manager during the lockdown period although he was quick to praise the efforts of his young charges.
It has now been more than two months since the Beach Boys played out a thrilling 3-3 Vanarama National League draw with Tonbridge Angels at the Aspect Arena. Football was suspended shortly after and subsequently, the league campaign declared over as the coronavirus continued to spiral dangerously out of control.
But despite the lack of football, individual training routines, as well as the mindset of the players, remained foremost in Scopes’ mind as he and his staff attempt to navigate through these unprecedented times.
I suggested to the Concord chief that he had become something of a father-figure to the squad; “Yes, I think so,” he responded.
“We are fortunate, to be honest. I’ve been around football long enough, involved in groups as a player, a manager even as a supporter of Concord, watching from the other side. I know groups can be quite difficult at times but I’m fortunate because, from day one, when we stepped in the building and signed the boys, we knew what we were getting and they’ve been really good.
“I can probably count on one hand the number of times we’ve had issues to address and even then it hasn’t been serious stuff at all. For a group in an emotional environment and throughout a season, that’s fantastic.
“The boys have been excellent in their approach, discipline and humbleness. Even when we’ve been getting mixed results, they’ve looked after themselves and have been first-rate.”
Scoped explained how he and the players had stayed in regular contact throughout lockdown and is clearly very proud of the response fro the squad; “During the break, we have tried to help them out with fitness regimes – some of them have their own programs that they follow – we have just tried to add into that, support them and just try to keep their motivation and belief going, especially as we don’t know when the FA Trophy game might get played.
“Obviously, since we have now realised that is likely to be at the start of next season – that is a possibility – we have relaxed things a little bit with fitness, told them to enjoy the break and spend some time with their families and to stay safe.
“But we are in regular contact via our WhatsApp group. The boys know at any one time they can pick up the phone and have a chat with me or any of the management team.
“We have been supporting some with video clips, details of their season, where they can improve and bits that they did well. We have kept talking to them, but have told them to enjoy the time as much as you can and refuel because it will be quite hectic when we do come back, especially if the season is delayed It could be crammed into a shorter period leaving them with a lot of football and a lot of effort.
“It is a bit frustrating because everyone feels that they are on pause. We don’t really know what’s going on with the finances, with players. Some of our boys are looking for full-time deals and want to kick on in their careers which is fair enough.”
Scopes clearly has a great connection with this particular group and it’s easy to see why he is keen to keep the nucleus together as they build for the return of football and the future as a whole: “It has been difficult but I’ve got a really good group of lads. They are quite young but very mature in what they do – good understanding. Some of the trials and tribulations we went through in the season – the games cancelled, travelling to Bath for a game which was postponed – that sort of stuff – in a lot of other groups that could have caused problems. Our boys dealt with it, didn’t moan and groan about it – they just got on with it. They have been pretty much like that since the break. I talk to them when I can but don’t overly hassle them. I give them time and space to think.
“They are all frustrated and all want to come back and play. But they fully appreciate the circumstances and that health is more important at present – They are an easy group to manage.”