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White Noise

Started on 29 September 2015 by joshleedsfan
Latest Reply on 10 October 2015 by joshleedsfan
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I'm Graham White. Born in 1959 and raised in Beeston, LS11, the same area as that famous old ground. I was six years old when I went to see my beloved Leeds for the first time, just as the wheels of Don Revie's dynasty were starting to roll. It was a blurred but memorable experience in the Boys Pen, then at the back of the old Gelderd End, as we whacked divisional rivals Everton 4-1.

I've been hooked ever since. As a player, I was a tenacious and tough-tackling midfielder, although I was pretty small, kind of like Billy Bremner of the great Don Revie side and then David Batty under Howard Wilkinson. I had a knack for winning the ball in my own half and carrying it forward to the final third.

I first got into football when I was spotted playing for my school team by Bradford Park Avenue at 15 years old. I signed on schoolboy terms in the season which, at the end, saw the club wound up and return as a phoenix club under the same name playing Sunday league football.

I spent three years at the club, before being spotted by Huddersfield Town where I spent the best of my playing years in a 6-year spell at Leeds Road. When I arrived, the club were loitering around the top half of the Fourth Division and we were promoted to the Second Divison by the time I left, aged 24, in a league with the love of my life, Leeds United.

I received a contract offer from Leeds, and without a second thought, I was gone. The Huddersfield fans weren't as keen on the move as I was, and I've carried the nickname of Judas ever since. I was a part of Howard Wilkinson's clear-out in the summer of 1989. I was to make way for David Batty who by my own concession, was markedly better than I was, that much was clear when he came for trials.

I left my boyhood club at 30 years old with a decision to make. I was out of contract and nearing the end of my career. I could have called it quits there and then, but God only knows what would have become of my life. So I was pleasantly surprised when I got the call from First Division outfit Luton Town, who had just survived relegation. I was up for the fight to keep them in the top flight and we stayed there until that bittersweet year in 1992 when Leeds had won the league, but me and Luton were sent packing to the Second Division.

Despite a near miss on promotion the following year, I decided to pack it in, aged 34. I went and gained my coaching badges, but personal financial issues meant I could only get as far as a UEFA C License. I don't know what it was, but a small part of me couldn't be arsed any more by the time I'd gained my badges in 1998.

It was partially to do with issues at home, with my wife at the time deciding that in my fifth year of unemployment, I was a pretty shitty husband and a father to our 5-year-old son James. In fairness, she was right, but I was too proud to admit it. In a vain attempt to sort my life out, I got a desk job at an insurance company back in Leeds, but the wheels of my life were already falling off.

I made it to 2010 without drugs, instead battling depression without even substances. After being spotted on a night out staggering wildly looking depressed as fuck and coked off my head, my replacement at Leeds United- David Batty- picked me up and took me under his wing. Him and his family were very warm and welcoming to a guy that had fucked up so hard. He helped me get back on my feet, fight my way through what was a depressing dead end job and find a way back into football.

He got me a job in the Harrogate Town youth team, as a part-time coach. I downgraded my contract at my insurance firm to part-time and I was feeling good again. For the first time since the 80s, I felt accepted in football once again. In 2013, I moved into my first full-time role, as an academy coach at Bradford City, one of few West Yorkshire clubs I had no other history with.

My year in 'Bratfurt' was enjoyable, but I felt ready to challenge myself. Now, more than ever, I had the confidence to step up my game and seek a role in management, and that's where our story begins...
After a summer of chaos at Elland Road, Neil Redfearn had been appointed as the new Leeds 'head coach'. I was happy for him and for the club as they seemed perfect for each other, but with regards to myself I saw it as an outside opportunity to work for the club I love.

However, I welcomed the chance to work my way up. I was pleasantly surprised to see an email from Barnsley Football Club, inviting me over for an interview after hearing I was on the managerial market. I had no idea a UEFA C License could get you into a League One job. I was expecting bottom-end League Two at best.

Barnsley had just come down from the Championship, and having parted company with Danny Wilson at the end of the season, were looking for a new man to take the club forward. They lost top goal-scorer Chris O'Grady to Brighton for £500,000, typically symptomatic of a relegated club.

I also received an offer from Kilmarnock, of the Scottish Premier League. Kilmarnock are your typical Scottish club- unless you're Celtic or perhaps Aberdeen, you stand no chance at anything. They finished 9th last season and were looking for better than the bottom half. As a result, Allan Johnstone lost his job.

I went first to the Barnsley interview, with one thing on my mind: youth is key. I wanted to work for a board that was going to invest in the club's youth system which would come in handy given my inexperience in the transfer market, and the fact I've been out of the game for about 20 years.

I was impressed with the facilities, although the academy could have done with a bit of work. Building work is expensive however, so I knew that would have to wait. The one thing I did ask the board for however was an improvement in the standards of youth coaching. Having agreed to my vision of developing young players, the board were happy to accept this request.

I took a risk however, by telling the board I could win the club promotion at the first attempt. I could tell it was a risky move by the amazed looks I was given. The interview nonetheless, continued forward and I came out of the boardroom at Oakwell feeling positive. On the one hand, it would be convenient for me, as it would mean I could stay in my nice apartment in Leeds and travel to Barnsley. I also felt it was a club with potential, and a strong local fanbase that would make my job that little bit easier.

The next interview was for the Kilmarnock job. Having understood that I could ill-afford to travel all the way up to East Ayrshire on the off-chance of landing a job, the board allowed me to have my interview conducted over the phone.

'Killie' weren't as receptive however to my youth development mission, and the interview was over when I requested changes to be implemented in the academy.

From that point, I sat and waited, perhaps foolishly as I ought to have been applying elsewhere as well. But with the way I was impressed by Barnsley and the way the interview with Kilmarnock went, my heart was set on the South Yorkshire outfit, and over the following days I anxiously awaited my reply...

BARNSLEY APPOINT WHITE


Barnsley have appointed Graham White as the club's new manager. The 55-year-old will take charge of the club on a permanent basis ahead of its first season back in the Sky Bet League 1.

From the late 70s to early 90s, White played for Bradford Park Avenue, Huddersfield Town, Leeds United and Luton Town in a career that saw him make 665 professional appearances. He was also part of a Huddersfield side that won promotion twice during his 6-year spell at the club.

He takes charge of a recently relegated Barnsley side in the hope that he can revive their fortunes and bring a return to the Championship as soon as possible
joshleedsfan's avatar Group joshleedsfan
8 yearsEdited
I must admit, I was bricking it heading down to South Yorkshire for my first day at the club. Until Batts took me in, I'd spent 12 years outside of football (17 if you don't count my coaching courses) and in the past 4 years or so, the coaching roles I've taken on have been pretty minor.

Still, I knew what I was signing up for when I agreed a contract with the club, so it was now my responsibility to face up to the challenge like a man.

I had been told it was my choice whether to work in a suit or a tracksuit, but either way I was asked for my size so they could make me a tracksuit if ever I needed one. I decided on spending my first day in a suit, which the club said they'd pay for up to a limit of £200.

I got kitted out in a nice grey waistcoat and trousers combo, with a red tie to go with it. As a Leeds fan, red isn't really my colour but as Barnsley manager, I guess it has to be.

I set off early, an hour early in fact, because I knew what traffic would be like on the M1 heading down to Barnsley. In this neck of the woods, the M1 links West Yorkshire with South Yorkshire and serves a purpose mainly for commuters from Leeds to Sheffield and vice versa.

I arrived at the training pitches next to the ground at 8:45, fifteen minutes early. I took the time to appreciate how it almost reminded me of Fullerton Park where we used to train at Leeds, situated behind the West Stand.

I made a quick phone call to my parents, the only living relatives I have left apart from my estranged ex-wife and my son which the aforementioned ex hasn't let me see in 15 years. Just as I was wrapping the phone call, Maurice Watkins the chairman pulled up next to me in a smart looking Audi TT.

He got out of the car and looked my way instantly. He was grinning from ear to ear, probably a side effect of the morning sunshine as last season had given the club little to smile about this summer. He shook my hand firmly and said "Welcome to Barnsley".

I attempted a smile back to mask the nerves. I was also in a pretty serious mood. I wanted to get shit done this summer but I smiled all the while.

"It's a pleasure to be here Mr Watkins. Can't wait to get started"

He let go of my hand and jerked his head towards the stadium, gesturing me to head that way.

"Walk with me Graham, I just want to have a quick chat in the board room. It'll only take about ten minutes and you can meet your team afterwards. Your office is opposite the boardroom, and I've left a message at reception at the training ground for Mark Burton to see you after this meeting"

I walked with Maurice to the boardroom. Along the way we had a nice informal chat, which was what I needed to relax the nerves a little bit. We had a discussion about life with Batts and he told me a little about his life.

He was a director at Manchester United for 28 years between 1984 and 2012, and floated the club on the stock exchange in the pre-Glazer era. The club was taken off the stock market when Malcolm Glazer completed his takeover.

He was also Eric Cantona's lawyer in his assault case for his infamous kung-fu kick. He's only been at the club for two years after being appointed chairman in summer 2012.

I was immediately impressed when we arrived at the boardroom. The carpet was a proud shade of crimson. On the right hand side of the room was a mini-kitchen with a sink, a few cupboards and a mini fridge. In the far left corner stood a bar which had a couple of fridges stocked full with bottles of lager; there was also bottles of spirits and wine on the wall behind as well as two pumps- one for North Union Ale and another for Carlsberg. Further along the left hand wall was a large book case/sideboard piece of furniture. In the centre of the room stood the long board table with six seats either side and a seat at each end. At the back of the room was a large glass window, with a sliding door. Above the window was a sign with a Barnsley badge on the left on a white back ground followed by the words 'Directors Box'.

Behind the glass was an impressive view of the pitch. The box was situated at the back of the lower tier of the East Stand, directly in line with the halfway line. To the right was the North Stand which houses the away fans, which on first impression, I thought looked too big for a League One team's fans to fill and that maybe the space would be better used if there was segregation down the middle of the stand so that the home fans could fill a few more seats. To the left was the South Stand, the home end of the ground which looked just like the one-tiered away end. Opposite stood the oldest stand in the ground. I liked the look of the West Stand, as it gave that old traditional football ground look, with an uncovered paddock of seating in the lower tier and a smaller covered upper tier. It just seem a shame that the front of the roof was spoiled by a rather ugly looking TV gantry.

We sat at one side of the table and discussed football. We'd already been through the club's aim and its vision in the interview so we just went for a brief overview. In the meeting, we also went through the club's history in brief and sorted out a press conference to take place at 4pm.

For once I felt like I was back. I was Graham White the football man, not the insurance company employee that for a 19-year period was a half-decent footballer.
joshleedsfan's avatar Group joshleedsfan
8 yearsEdited
When the meeting was over, I left Mr Watkins to set about his business for the day and took to my office where my assistant Mark Burton was waiting for me.

Despite being a Forest fan, Burton had been at Oakwell ever since he signed his first ever professional contract, aged 18 in 1991. Unfortunately, his playing days were cut short by an injury in 1995 and he was forced into an early retirement. He immediately took up the role as Barnsley's youth coach, one of the youngest youth coaches football has ever seen. It was a position he held for 18 years before Danny Wilson took charge of the club and made him assistant manager.

"Pleasure to meet you Mr White, I've heard good things about you"

"Thanks, but just call me Graham. It's the players that'll have to call me something along those lines" I replied.

"Is there anything I can help you out with?" He asked.

"There is actually. I need you to sort the training rotas for each squad. Just while I get the hang of being around. I'll take tactics training as that's what I feel I'm best at. If you could initially delegate training out between the rest of the coaching staff, I'll make any tweaks as I see fit"

"Do you want me to arrange an 11 v 11 for the first and reserve teams? You might then be able to take a look at some of the players"

"Yes please, that would be great. I'll set up a staff meeting and we'll all meet bi-weekly if you don't mind"

"Yeah, no worries. You look like you're going to be busy today in your office so do you want me to send a report on the team after I've seen them all train?"

"Yes please, that would be brilliant"

"Anything else you need?"

"No, I'm alright thanks. Let's go meet these players shall we?"

Mark and I headed out of my office and marched down towards the training ground where the players were waiting for us.

I called the senior squad around for a talk.

"Right lads" I said "I'm aware some of you are new here. So am I, so on that front there's a fresh start. New club, new manager, new way of working. For those of you that were here last year, last year was not good enough, otherwise I wouldn't be here trying to help get us out of League One. Danny (Wilson) would still be here prepping you all up for another year in the Championship.

But he isn't. So I'm calling on you to step it up or leave. I don't have time for slackers at this club because we're going for promotion this year. That's right. We couldn't get it in the Championship, but we've now got a chance in League One. I'll be in my office speaking to every Tom, Dick and Harry that can help me out trying to put a promotion squad together. I'm aware that we're a bit lax in some areas. Mark (Burton), the floor is yours"

I stood next to Mark whilst he briefed the players on training and then headed back to my office.

A few hours later, I received an email from Mark. It was the team report he had offered to provide. I took a look and started scribbling a few notes.

In goal we had a couple of new faces, with the most likely number one being Ross Turnbull. Turnbull spent last year playing for our neighbours and fellow relegatees Doncaster Rovers. Adam Davies was next in command who had arrived on a free transfer from Sheffield Wednesday. Davies was still yet to make a competitive appearance having started his career at Everton.

We were looking stretched at full back with our strongest right and left backs being Martin Cranie and Lewin Nyatanga. Unfortunately, Martin Cranie was our strongest centre-back so we couldn't afford to play him out of position. However, Mark's report suggested that Nyatanga was slightly down the pecking order at centre half and could be used at left-back for the time being, but at left-back he wasn't much to shout about.

At centre half, we had the aforementioned Cranie and Nyatanga as well as Peter Ramage, who I was told would make a good partnership with Cranie. Looking further down the pecking order, we had strong options in Jean Yves-M'voto and promising academy graduate Mason Holgate.

On the wings, we didn't have much on offer for a flat midfield and we only really had wingers that could operate in more advanced areas. In those advanced areas however, we had Milan Lalkovic who I was told should be my first option on the right-hand side and on the left, we had the pace of former Bayern Munich II winger Dale Jennings. Jennings aside, we only really had Man City academy product Dominic McHale who despite his potential, wasn't quite ready for the first team yet.

In the centre, I was blessed with the flare of former Ireland Under-21 Conor Hourihane who would play a key role as a part of our creative hub. We also had a decent holding midfielder in James Bailey as well as a lot of youth potential in the rest of our army of centre-midfielders with holding midfielders Josh Scowen and Paul Digby and playmakers Luke Berry and Brad Abbott. I made it my aim to give as many of those young players a chance in the first team as possible.

We looked good up front, with 23-year-old Sam Winnall most likely to get the nod in a one-striker formation and ex-Swansea man Leroy Lita looking like a good partner. Otherwise, we had Kane Hemmings who had just joined from Cowdenbeath and George Waring on loan from Stoke who could provide handy back-up.

With the team report in mind, I set about identifying transfer targets that would mostly come at full back so that we didn't have to play a flat midfield with our wide men doing donkey work at the back. My scouting team identified Hull City left-back Joe Dudgeon and Birmingham City left-back Mitch Hancox. They also recommended taking a look at Bolton striker Zach Clough for more options as well as Crystal Palace man Kwesi Appiah.

With this in mind I sent them on their way, and tried to figure out a formation to use against St Albans whilst I look for more players.
I just want you to know that I like the way you write. Flows nicely, easy to read and it looks as though you have a plan. This is good stuff. I hope you keep it going -- I will definitely keep reading.
2015-10-07 15:10#220313 tenthreeleader : I just want you to know that I like the way you write. Flows nicely, easy to read and it looks as though you have a plan. This is good stuff. I hope you keep it going -- I will definitely keep reading.

Thanks for your feedback. I have a mental plan that changes from time to time. For instance, I'm still trying to get an angle on what sort of personal life to give Graham away from the dugout
I'm going to have to call a close to this story. The save file was corrupted and when I started again, I never got around to updating the story on here. I got to December and the file corrupted again.

Keep your eyes peeled though, as I attempt a story with my beloved Leeds United. It's beneficial as there will be less research required, as being a fan, I already know a lot about the club.

Watch this space

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