We’re now in the year 2018 and that means, although I’m still in my fourth full season at The New Saints, I’ve actually covered five years. Whoever said time flies wasn’t joking.
During that time I have seen lots of change, especially on the playing front, which has to be one of the most transient occupations that exists. Among the changes I’ve witnessed has been the rise of Scott Ruscoe from player (and a very good one at that) to assistant manager and now the man at the helm.
I like Scott, as indeed I can echo that sentiment many times over regarding staff at the club, and I thought I’d dedicate this week’s Rev’s Ramblings to the man himself.
A change of manager at any club is potentially an unsettling period but at TNS it was as smooth a transition as you could have hoped for. It was a case of everyone moving up a place, with Scott taking the hot seat and Steve Evans his previous position. Evo in turn was replaced by Steve Benyon in the JD WPL Development League and Scholars set-up, as change became opportunity along the chain.
What a baptism of fire it was for Scott – not many managers can say that their first competitive game in charge was in the Champions League. It was also an extremely tough one at that and TNS suffered a rare first round qualifier home defeat.
However – and with due respect to our opponents in the same stage from previous seasons – this was a different scenario. Europa FC, the champions of Gibraltar, had overturned the impressive hold that Lincoln Red Imps had on the national league.
They had signed some quality players, including Liam Walker who had previous English football league experience with Portsmouth and is now at Notts County. They were no pushovers and that was a fact.
I’ll never forget Scott’s attitude to the second-leg though. Talking with him at Park Hall prior to flying out he said with absolute conviction, “We will win.” There was no arrogance, no boasting, just plain simple genuine self-belief.
In fact, prior to kick-off in Portugal, I was live on BBC Radio Shropshire being interviewed about the upcoming match and when I was asked what the result would be, I said we will win. I retold the conversation with Scott. I had bought into the confidence.
The victory on the road was a defining moment for the new manager, as was the second game of the JD Welsh Premier League season. Opening day saw TNS suffer a 5-2 defeat at Bangor City. It’s not so much about that which determines a person’s character but rather how you bounce back. A 3-0 win against Bala Town was the perfect antidote.
It’s not easy taking over at the helm of an incredibly successful side in your first job as a manager but halfway through the season I think Scott has come thus far with flying colours. Top of the JD Welsh Premier League, in the Nathaniel MG Cup final, the Irn-Bru Cup last four and still in the JD Welsh Cup is as good as it can get for anyone.
On a working-relationship level it’s going very well. It’s vital for a media officer and manager to have a good line of communication. I won’t mention the club – but it is in the national top-flight league (not Wales) – where the media officer was telling me a schism meant that the manager went a whole season refusing to do interviews with him.
Others will tell you how managers keep them waiting for hours (and I mean hours) after a game just for a five-minute interview. It’s a show of Scott’s character that even when we lose, he faces the media. He handles himself with dignity and composure. The media man’s dream!
Finally, on a personal level I really like him. We travelled together last week to watch Everton take on Chelsea. Neil Clarke, the managing director of RUKGroup, couldn’t use his season tickets so we were able to go instead. We had a great day out and I was thinking afterwards, how many media people go to a game socially with their manager. That’s the lead photograph by the way. A selfie, obviously.
Rev’s Ramblings is a weekly blog insight into my involvement with the champions of Wales, from a personal perspective. Stewart Bloor – Media & Communications Officer.