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Steve Stricker - The Dying Breed

Follow Steve Stricker, former West Ham hard man as he rebuilds his life as a football manager...
Started on 4 July 2016 by nobleTP
Latest Reply on 8 July 2016 by BeanyUnited
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Steve Stricker - The Dying Breed

Hackney, North-East London

"First five minutes, let him know you're there", arguably the most shouted phrase in English Sunday league football. For me, they were words to live by. Not just in football but long before that. Growing up as a young Hackney lad was tough. I had a troubling background, fought with my parents, skipped school and hung around with the wrong crowds. Nothing mattered to me as a kid-except football. Football meant everything to me, whenever I could I was out on the streets playing jumpers for goalposts with the other local boys. Things would get heated quickly, scraps were common, punches thrown between rival "gang" members over something as petty as football. Hard to believe I know, but when you grow up within a gang culture you learn to understand that anything can be used to fuel a fight, everyone wanted to fight.

Hackney, one of the poorest parts of London, it had it's perks. Community projects were well funded and I remember at the age of 13 being offered a place in a football community project ran by West Ham United. Twice a week, on Tuesday's and Friday's the project would run down on Hackney Marshes. It was here my footballing ability really took off. At 13, I was taller than others of my age at five foot eight inches. I was stocky and muscular, pushing others off the ball with ease. I was placed as a centre back, a position I was familiar with. I won't lie I wanted to be one of football's hard men-a proper "Hackney lad". Players such as Roy Keane, West Ham's Julian Dicks and Stuart Pearce among others. It was the aggressive, the bending of the rules, the scraps and the passion that I wanted to emulate. At the age of 16 I somehow was offered a youth contract at West Ham, no nonsense defending and hard tackling led me to the under 21 squad and eventually at the age of just 20 I was given my first West Ham start. I remember the date, 24th November 2001, a home game Spurs. Brought on in the second half it was then that that cliched phrase was shouted at me again. "First five minutes, let him know you're there, Steve" shouted Glenn Roeder. The player I had to ruthlessly take on was the Spurs winger Gus Poyet. I wanted to prove my prowess, 20 minutes of ruthless football, perfect tackles all game, the odd spat with the spurs lads. I had Poyet in my back pocket, I wasn't afraid to tell him that too. Who would have thought the young Hackney lad would have kept Poyet quiet all game, he certainly didn't!

I was loyal to West Ham, 150 appearances for the club, never played anywhere else. My commitment to the club was clear to those around me. I was in their debt for giving me the chance to show myself as a 13 year old in a little community project. England caps came thick and fast, 20 in total, I captained West Ham for 3 seasons and also picked up the clubs record tally for yellow cards and red cards in a season. I had become a football "hard man". Shaved head, rolled down socks and sharpened studs I never held back from a challenge and found myself in my fair share of scraps too. It was my rivalries with players that led to my playing career being cut short. Injuries from tackles received saw me never fully regaining fitness, my left leg became strapped up every game for my last season before the medical team persuaded me into retirement at the age of 30, too soon.

With no qualifications and no more job I became a social recluse. Drugs and drink took over my life, a way of escaping from depression and crippling debts, ultimately, this is where my life took a turn for the worst. In 2012 I was jailed for 3 years for an assault in a nightclub, a stupid crime and one that I felt instant regret for. Jail was tough but it remoulded me as a person, my links to football enabled me to take my coaching badges and I led the prison football team and educated inmates on how to stay out of trouble. My release was quick, the judge saw me as a "reformed member of society". the FA hired me as a youth coach, I was leading the same community projects I had attended myself all those years ago. These lads had talent too and I could see replicas of myself. Most of them knew who I was, what I had done and knew my background-the same as theirs.

Here I am now, a 36 year old man about to embark on my newest adventures, a football manager. How? My skills and eye as a coach had been spotted by clubs from around London and beyond. I'd declined offers from teams such as Wealdstone and Sutton United over the last few years but now the offers were coming in thick and fast.

Steve Stricker is back.
Nice start, interested to see what team is the first job
Nice interesting start bro!
ninjaskill and BeanyUnited: Thank you both!

The Interview

Gander Green Lane, Sutton

It had been a long journey from Hackney to Sutton. Traffic jams and an Uber driver "fan" made it even more so. "Where you off to then Steve? Why you all dressed up? Why you looking so anxious fella?" London, the city is great, the people not so much. "Gander Green Lane, here we are Steve. Have a good day". I nodded and smiled back. This is it, this could be my return to football. I was anxious, this was the first time in years that I had a formal job interview and more than likely the biggest interview of my life. I'd made an effort today, blue, suit and briefcase containing my footballing "CV", this is it.

I knew where, I was going, clear instructions had been emailed to me by the club. "Down the tunnel and first left, the home dressing room. We'll meet you there". It was a short walk, Gander Green Lane in itself is a small "stadium", one main terrace and plenty of open area for fans to stand. Much smaller than my old stage of the Boleyn Ground. I was greeted at the tunnel by the club chairman, Bruce Elliott. A tall man he also was wearing a suit (emblazoned with the club crest), "Good Morning Stricker, pleased to see you're here. All well? Apologies for where we're holding this interview, the home dressing room has plenty of room." We both chuckled, I won't lie I was trying to lay down good first impressions given my history. "Follow me". I followed behind him, a short five metre walk led into the dressing room. 2 chairs segregated by a table and papers. "Shall we begin?" Elliot asked...

"Welcome to Sutton United Mister Stricker. Firstly, thank you for the application to take up the vacant managerial position for the first team. I have a few formal questions and then you can raise anything else you would like to know."

"Im pleased to be here Elliott. It's always been an ambition of mine to manage a football team professionally."

"I like ambition here. Please, do tell me more on your philosophies and plans for this club."

"Football from my era. No nonsense, bullish, get the job done football. We need more clubs playing entertaining, heart on sleeve football. Players who want to play for their club. There is no loyalty in football these days. I want to bring this all back and get good results while doing so."

"And you think it will be easy to implement this style against the modern day game? I won't lie Steve, I'm not optimistic about this approach."

"I fully respect your opinion Mister Elliott. I honestly believe that I can succeed with this football, give me time and support and Sutton United will rebirth football as we both knew it 10 years ago.

"You're not giving me a lot of choice here Steve. I like a manager with a backbone and you're showing that. I've seen the football you mention, I was huge fan of yours in your West Ham days. By hiring you I'd be taking a gamble, I'm a man of risk and I'd be willing to try my luck with you."

"Thank you Mister Elliott, I will not let you down, I know you will have heard that a lot."

"Of course, now my goals and asks for you this season, you were optimistic and now I will be. I wish for you to reach the league playoff's and the FA Cup 1st round. Also, please consider the FA trophy as a good competition to be in. Any last questions?"

"None, but once again thank you for offering me this role."

"It's my pleasure Steve. I'll be sending you some formal papers, the contract et cetera in the post. You can expect your first training session a week today"

The start of an era...

Sutton United

Club Information:

Year Founded: 1898
Nickname: The U's
Ground: Gander Green Lane
Capacity: 5,013 (765 seated)
Chairman: Bruce Elliott
Rivalries: AFC Wimbledon, Kingstonian, Woking, Carshalton Athletic, Tooting & Mitcham

Club Honours:

Isthmian League Premier Division: 1966-67, 1984-85, 1985-86, 1998-99, 2010-11
Athenian League: 1927-28, 1945-46, 1957-58
Anglo-Italian Cup Winners: 1979
Athenian League Challenge Cup Winners: 1946, 1956, 1962, 1963
Bob Lord Trophy Winners: 1991
Isthmian League Cup Winners: 1983, 1984, 1986, 1998
Isthmian League Full Members' Cup Winners: 1992, 1996
London Senior Cup Winners: 1958, 1983
South Thames Cup Winners: 1955, 1967, 1968
Surrey Senior Cup Winners: 1946, 1965, 1968, 1970, 1980, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1993, 1995, 1999, 2003
i've got a soft spot for Sutton United, be good to see where you take them, good luck!
Gotta love Sutton United! Best of luck mate

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