The great Scott who is helping Glentoran through troubled times
Ahead of tonight’s Paddy Power Co Antrim Shield final between Glentoran and Linfield, Oval boss Scott Young tells us what it is like to manage a club currently on the brink of financial ruin
Scott Young was a terrific midfielder for Glentoran. He had the vision to see a pass, the ability to make it and the energy to drive into the box and score vital goals. With those Glaswegian roots, he could also mix it in the heat of battle.
Small in stature, he was a big, big player for the east Belfast outfit and a highly influential figure during the trophy-laden era of Roy Coyle's leadership.
Sadly for the Glens, injury forced him to retire at 28.
Five years on, how they could do with a player of his class, especially entering tonight's Paddy Power Co Antrim Shield final against Linfield at Windsor Park.
The Glens have never really replaced Scott Young, the player.
On the upside, they now have Scott Young, the manager.
And in the most difficult time in the club's history since Hitler's bombers blitzed the Oval in 1941, all Glenmen should be grateful for that.
The Glens are standing on the edge of oblivion, with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs demanding debts are paid.
Through the financial turmoil, Young has been a shining light for the Glens, taking over the managerial reins when Alan McDonald left in April.
The Scot, now 33, guided the Glens to Co-operative Insurance Cup success last season and in this campaign they remain in contention in all competitions, despite a crippling injury crisis, high profile players such as Gary Hamilton moving on and the constant dread that they are about to go out of business.
The fierce determination of Young, and his coaching lieutenants Pete Batey and Tim McCann, and an undiluted passion for the club has kept the playing side of things above water while the club, as a whole, searches for a lifeboat.
Young admits he was not totally aware of the financial nightmare facing Glentoran when he took over, but says he would have accepted the challenge, even knowing the full story.
“The financial situation at the club is not nice but we're all pulling in one direction and trying to get on with it. When the job came up I knew things weren't great but I didn't know how bad the financial situation was,” said the Oval boss.
“Had I known everything I would have thought long and hard about it, but I believe I would still have said yes.
“The club has took up nearly 13 years of my life and I love it dearly. I came here as a player and you can't say you love the club and then because things aren't rosy in the garden, turn your back on them.
“A lot of money has been wiped off the wage bill and there is the well documented Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) situation.
“At the same time I can only try to focus on playing games and let other people try and sort out the off field problems. A Spirit of 41 committee was formed and they are doing a fantastic job raising money.
“I'm getting on with the cards I've been dealt. It's not easy but I'm not looking for sympathy. Do you roll over and die or get on with it? Me? I get on with it.
“In 2005 my career was cut short, so I feel I have unfinished business and want to win more things for the Glens. I want to be at Glentoran for a long time and build a dynasty at the club.”
Honesty and straight talking have been features of Young's short but eventful reign, making for entertaining and thought- provoking media briefings.
The big Rangers fan states: “I don't always say what I think because there would be big problems if I did but when I was growing up my parents always taught me to be honest and I've always been that way.
“With the players, for example, if they have played well I tell them and if they haven't, I don't miss them, that’s for sure.
“With the press if we lose a game and I come out and say the players did well, when it is obvious they didn't, that would be stupid in my book. There's no point trying to kid people.
“I do care about my players, big time, because they dictate how me or any manager does so I need them to perform, but I don't care if they get upset because of something I've said in the press. I will have told them what I thought before I tell the press, so it's not like I'm going behind anyone's back.”
Young's managerial heroes are: “Fergie, Stein, Busby and Shankly. They are all from the west of Scotland, where I'm from, so I'm very proud of that.”
He also has the highest regard for Roy Coyle, who brought him to Glentoran in 1998.
“He was a truly great manager. I remember the Irish Cup final in 2001, which was the first Big Two decider in 16 years,” Young reflected.
“We went into that game knowing Glentoran hadn't lost an Irish Cup final for something like 50 years and we were playing our biggest rivals so the pressure was on,” says Young.
“One of the last things Roy said to us before the final was ‘do you want to be known as the team that loses that record?'. He knew that he could say that to us and we could handle it.
“We had people like Pete, Tim, Gary Smyth and Darren Lockhart who would say ‘bring it on’. He was very smart because he knew that would get a reaction and we won the final.”
Winning tonight's final with a young, inexperienced side, missing the suspended Paul Leeman and Colin Nixon, against a Linfield outfit with Peter Thompson in superb scoring form, would arguably be an even bigger achievement.
“We can win the final,” says Young, married to east Belfast lady Eleanor. They have two young daughters.
He adds: “Without Leeper and Nicky it will be tough as they are great leaders, but it's an opportunity for others and I have faith in whoever steps in.
“I haven't beaten Linfield as a manager yet, so I don't know how it feels, but as a player it was very sweet beating your big rivals. Id like to experience it as a manager.”
Tonight would be a good time to start. Kick-off is 7.45pm.
Young opens his heart
BEING THE BOSS
When you are a manager the buck stops with you. If you win you get the plaudits, if you don't, it's your fault and you have to be able to handle that. Obviously everyone knows the demands and expectations at Glentoran Football Club and it falls on your shoulders whether or not thousands of people enjoy their weekend. In east Belfast, Glentoran is a massive part of the community and Northern Ireland as a whole, and if the team isn't doing well the Glenmen let you know, so I’m well aware of the responsibility that goes with the job.
LETTING GARY HAMILTON GO ON LOAN TO GLENAVON
Gary was a good servant for Glentoran but in the last couple of seasons I don't believe he was playing anything near to the standard he was capable of. There came a point when a decision had to be made and I made it. It was a footballing decision I had to make. It doesn't surprise me he is doing well at Glenavon. Will he be back at Glentoran next season? I can't answer that question because I may not be at Glentoran next season.
I know he's not liked by Glenmen but you can't deny his record. I have a lot of respect for what he has achieved in the game but I'm dying to beat him. When I retired from playing I was presented with a lovely tribute book and David had written a full page. The words that he had written were very nice, saying things like he would have liked to have worked with me, and I've never forgotten that. (When asked about David Jeffrey's interest in him as a player, Young said: “There was no chance of that ever happening. There was no mission of me ever playing for Linfield.”)
WINNING THE TITLE
If I'm being 100% honest there is only one team who can win it. Glentoran fans may not want to hear that but it doesn't mean I've given up. I'll be fighting tooth and nail to beat Linfield to the title and so will my players but with the squad and resources they have compared to ours, which is 15 players and a batch of young boys, they are obviously in a much stronger position.
FUTURE OF IRISH LEAGUE
Health and safety restrictions are killing the game. The Oval has been restricted to just under 5,000 people. We want young people and families to come to games, but the restrictions aren't helping that. We've had the Setanta Cup and I would love to see something bigger, with say the four Dublin clubs, the two big Belfast clubs, Derry City and Cork and three or four others involved, not as a league but as a cup competition. For Glentoran or Linfield to be prospering they should be looking at that or even trying to get into the nPower League in England. Both clubs are big enough for something like that.