During the 1980/81 season, Stevenage reserves manager Gordon Allinson spoke to the Comet newspaper about the challenges of managing the reserve team and the difficulties of fielding a consistent side. A copy and transcript of the article are reproduced below.
Reserve Team managers are often football’s unsung heroes. But Stevenage Borough’s Gordon Allinson is one second team boss who really loves the job.
Probably the biggest headache that afflicts the legions of reserve team bosses throughout the country is the weekly uncertainty about fielding a truly settled side.
Yet the spectre of wholesale team changes for almost every match does not daunt Stevenage Borough second string boss Gordon Allinson one bit.
Indeed, rarely being able to name the same side in any two matches this season, he has managed to guide Borough’s second string into a succession of excellent results.
After steering the youth team to two straight East Anglia Cup final wins, 46-year-old Allinson, in his first full season in charge of the reserves, is obviously out to underline his knack for winning trophies.
A former London and Middlesex schoolboy goalkeeper, Allinson’s ambitions of professional football were cut short at the age of 20 because of injury, but he lost none of his enthusiasm for the game.
Indeed, even though he is one of those forgotten men operating in the shadows of reserve team football, Allinson retains his appetite for recognition.
He said: “We have managed to piece together the nucleus of a fine young side at Borough. My main concern is helping players to improve and progress, the possibility of winning trophies is a bonus”.
Allinson’s Stevenage roots go back a long way. He spent his entire playing career with the long since defunct Stevenage Town, but now prefers to look to the future.
He said: “It’s refreshing when you can help good, young players like 18-year-old Stevie Baker, and left back Ray Wilcox, who at 19 looks another fine prospect.
I know I can’t hang onto them for long, but that’s part of my job. Players in the reserves are often in transit, either going up the ladder, or down it”.
The ever changing make- up of the side was aptly demonstrated by the departure of Drew Noble and Martin Gittings earlier this season, only to be replaced almost immediately by midfielder Steve Lee and striker Doug Pirie, both from North Herts League Albion.
“We’re always on the lookout for players” stressed Allinson. “We’re forever giving trials to hopefuls and losing others to the first team, so of course it’s impossible to get a settled side”.
“What I find most satisfying is seeing a youngster who had perhaps been written off at 17 come good in his own time”.
“You can’t programme players. Some develop quicker than others and those are the ones that get snapped up early”.
Allinson’s philosophy with his current side is simple. “We do literally take every game as it comes, but I’m pleased with the current make-up of the team, and I’m confident we’ll do very well”.
Allinson himself is fast developing a habit of doing just that.
The Stevenage FC History website would like to thank Lloyd Briscoe for providing us with a copy of the original article.