Former Leeds United skipper has the buzz back

Brendon Ormsby.
Brendon Ormsby.

FORMER Leeds United favourite Brendon Ormsby (pictured) admits to feeling a great excitement about his first two weeks as manager of Pontefract Collieries.

The man who was part of Aston Villa’s European Cup winning squad at the start of his footballing career and captained Leeds in their 1987 FA Cup semi-final against Coventry knows he faces a tough challenge in his first step into management in West Yorkshire, but he is already enjoying getting stuck back into regular involvement with a team.

Ormsby may have played for Villa, Leeds, Doncaster Rovers, Scarborough and Wigan Athletic in a distinguished Football League career, but he has experience at Ponte’s Northern Counties East League level with Garforth Town at the end of his playing career so has an idea what to expect.

He told the Express: “It feels great to be back involved with a club like Pontefract and in my first game in charge at Grimsby I got the same buzz I used to get when I was playing.

“I hope this will give me the kick up the backside I probably need and get me back into the swing of being involved on a regular basis instead of just watching from the stands.

“I ummed and aahed when asked about the job because it’s been a while since I finished playing. But I’ve still been involved, covering Leeds games on a match day for the Press Association as well as Man City and sometimes at Bradford, and I’ve helped out with coaching at the Leeds United Academy so I’ve never cut myself off from football.

“I think I’d got into a safety zone and I wanted to see whether I could come out of it so it’s a great challenge for me to see if I can make it a success at Pontefract.

“I didn’t know too much about the club before Ian Birchnall, the football development manager, approached me about six months ago. I never heard from him again until about six weeks ago. He rang me again to see if I was still interested and I started to have a look at the club through the website to see what was going on. I saw where they were in the league and how they were playing.

“I never pushed it after the initial phone call and I thought they had lost interest, but when I was contacted again it sparked something and the least I could do was go and have a chat.

“My son, Liam, who’s been coaching with the Leeds United Academy for the last two or three years, said to me that If I didn’t take the job I might regret it. He said if you take it and it doesn’t work out at least you’ve had a go. So I thought it would be like I was bottling out if I didn’t take the job on.

“It’s a big challenge. The chairman is very ambitious and he’s got big plans for the club – hopefully I can be part of that and help play a part in making his dreams, or whatever you want to call it, come true. I’m enjoying it so far.

“From the games I’ve seen and in training I’ve already seen one or two things and we’ve got some good young players. There were several 16 or 17-year-olds involved in the first game I watched the side in at Staveley in the Wilkinson Sword Trophy quarter-final and it was very encouraging, the team deserved the win against the top of the league.

“I went to Staveley just to watch, but I’m not the sort of person who can keep quiet and after about 20 minutes I had to get involved. I did some of the talking at half-time then Guy (Nottingham) let me take over for the second half, it went to extra-time and penalties and it was a great victory.

“The only thing was that I didn’t get to bed while about 12.30am because I was buzzing and as I’m a postman I had to get up at four for work the following morning. I was still buzzing from the game, though, and it got me through the day. I was very excited at getting back involved.”

Ormsby sees his main job initially to work out what talent exists at the club and what it needs to go forward. The chairman has promised his backing if players needed to be brought in and the new manager intends to call on contacts and friends in the game, which includes scouts at Leeds United and Manchester City, and Farsley Celtic boss Neil Parsley.

But there is still much to play for this season with the new manager setting his sights on winning a trophy straight away.

He said: “I would like to win the Wilkinson Sword Trophy and after looking at the table we can still get second place. Whether we can achieve this I don’t know, it’s a tall order, but we can give it a go.

“I won a cup at this level when I played with Garforth Town so I know what’s it like to play in finals like that and it would be good for the players. It’s what you’re in this game for, to win trophies.

“Hopefully we can still finish the league with a good run and if we can’t get second then we want to finish as high as possible. Try to end the season on a high note and then sort things out in the summer.”

Ormsby admits he will be learning the job himself after only brief previous managerial experience with League of Ireland club Waterford Town, but he intends to draw on what he remembers from several top managers he played under.

He added: “I picked up different things from the different managers I played under. The best one for preparation, and I think a lot of the players who played under him would say the same, was Howard Wilkinson. When it comes to the detail and getting ready for the match I haven’t come across a better man yet.

“Billy Bremner was different in his approach to the game and he used to join in the five-a-sides all the time. I’m the same in that sense in that I still love playing football. My first manager at Aston Villa was Ron Saunders was different again and he was successful. It was a long time ago now, but they all had their own ways of approaching games and talking to players.

“So hopefully I can start thinking back to how it was under these managers and use what I learned from them.

“I think you’ve got to treat players like adults. I’ve been in changing rooms where managers have been screaming their head off and the players just switch off. I don’t think it’s any benefit to be ranting and raving.

“It’s a big learning curve and hopefully I can learn a lot in the next few months. Hopefully in the right way.

“I want the team to play in the right way. In the first game I noticed the football was like a hot potato and they kept giving the ball away. I don’t know whether that was nerves or what, but I want the players to keep possession when they have it.

“’I’ve told the lads that if you are in any trouble at the back just clear your lines. I don’t want people thinking they are a Rio Ferdinand type of player and end up playing in the wrong areas. But if you have time get your head up and pass the ball and look after it. It’s hard enough to get the ball so don’t give it straight back to the opposition when you do get it.”