Warrington Rylands were the ones left celebrating long into the next couple of nights after their 3-2 win over Binfield in May’s FA Vase final. Far from their ‘day in the sun’, though, there is firm evidence to suggest that it won’t be the last we’ll see of them in the spotlight.

Dave McNabb’s side were among the clubs promoted in the recent restructure at Step 4-6 of non-league, meaning Rylands start the forthcoming season at Step 4, in the Northern Premier League West. You will struggle to win much without ability, but it is hard to think that the ever-lively camaraderie at the club didn’t at least help them on their way to reaching Wembley – and it was bubbling over brilliantly after their victory under the arch.

With the Blues on the crest of a wave, it is an exciting place to be, heading into 2021/22. Among those to sign up again after figuring prominently in their most recent success is midfielder Charlie Doyle, who joins us here to share some of his background, and a glimpse into a team and club on the march…

 

Let’s start with the most important thing…your song, ‘everybody needs a Doyley in the middle’! Do you know who came up with it or when you first heard it?

The first time I heard it, I’d obviously invited all my friends down to Wembley, and my best friend Haydn, he’s the person who created the song. I didn’t hear it until after the game. I’ve got a video, it’s on my Instagram, it’s brilliant. They’re all singing it, about 40 of them in the pub, and it was timed perfectly, because as it gets towards the end of them singing it, Binfield fans walk past and everyone starts booing! It just caught on from there. I think it got stuck in a fair few heads, to be honest with you! It still goes on now with my mates when they come out, if we’re in town or wherever.

The club in general, what kind of place is it to be? Is there a real sense of something building?

Yeah, it’s a brilliant club to be at. I’ve only been there for 12 months, but the reason I wanted to go to the club was to challenge for promotion and trophies, because I didn’t really have that previously. Obviously, we got promoted by default, which isn’t the way you want to go up, but there’s always a feelgood factor around the club. The lads are all really, really close-knit, everyone gets on, there’s not one bad individual in the dressing room. I think Macca’s that thorough before he brings anyone in that he ensures he doesn’t get anyone that’s going to upset it. Whether it’s at training, before games, after games, we have a few drinking sessions together; it’s honestly like being with 16 or 17 of your friends. It’s a brilliant club, and going all the way through to the coaching staff, obviously you’re treated differently when it’s time to get serious, but again, it’s like you’re hanging about with your pals most of the time.

Meeting back up for pre-season, with some new lads and impressive signings coming in, has the camaraderie just carried on from last season?

Yeah, the new lads that have come in have fit really well. Rick Smith has come in and he was part of the FA Vase run, and then you have the likes of Callum Dolan, Kyle (Sambor). Sepho (Luke Sephton) had already come training with us when we came back for the Vase (after the league season was cancelled). Again, tying in with what I just said, I think Macca does a lot of homework before he brings anyone in; he mentioned he did a bit on me! Nobody’s unsettled anything within the squad and all the new lads have just bought right into it. We’re going into the Northern Prem, so it’s going to be more difficult, but the goal’s the same again: we want to be up there challenging for the promotion places, definitely.

For characters, are there any main ring leaders in the team?! How do you fit into it, are you one of the livelier ones?

There’s a few. You have Kane Drummond, he’s loud. You have Podge (Graeme McCall), the goalkeeper, he’s a big character. In terms of a leader, I wouldn’t say he’s the loudest in the dressing room when everyone’s having banter and stuff, but Gaz Kenny, brilliant person to be around, in terms of his attitude and application. For myself, I think everyone would agree with this, I think I talk a bit too much; I think everyone would prefer if I shut up a fair few times! To be honest, a lot of people have an input, because we’re a group of pals.

You trained as a team at Derby before the final, and obviously Wayne Rooney’s agent (Paul Stretford) has been involved in the club behind the scenes. He came to one of your training sessions as well, so did you know he was coming, or was that a total surprise?

How it happened, it was either the Tuesday or the Thursday before the semi-final, and the session was running as normal, and I remember it really vividly. Someone goes ‘Rooney’s over there’, and I’m thinking ‘what, Rooney Rooney?’ We were playing a possession game with mini-goals, and the semi-final was on the Saturday, so it was a really good session, good quality, high tempo. Then slowly, everyone was whispering ‘Rooney’s over there’, and it was towards the end of the session, so it started dipping! You could see a few people – including myself, I’m a big United fan – just checking their shoulder to see him in the distance. Then we sat down and we were all like a bunch of seven-year-olds in a school class; when Rooney said ‘any questions?’, barely anyone had any questions! It was surreal for someone of that stature to stand in front of you and talk about how he dealt with pressure in finals and big league games. Obviously ours is miles off that, but you could relate in terms of some stuff he said about making mistakes and having to forget about it.

Did he tell you anything specific that you remember? Did he have any shooting practice with you?!

No, he didn’t! It was just a few questions people asked about nutrition before the game, how he ate, but the most interesting topic he touched on for me was when he talked about the pressure of big games. He said he always told himself that he will make a mistake in a game, so when he does give the ball away or miss a chance, he’d already prepared himself mentally before the game. Different levels obviously, but I could relate to it, because getting towards the end of the Walsall Wood game in the semi-final, five minutes to go, you’re 2-1 up and start getting really nervous, you give the ball away, you make a mistake. That’s the thing that stuck out for me, and then people started asking questions about who was better, Gerrard or Scholes, and side-tracking fairly quickly!

 

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A post shared by Charlie Doyle (@charliedoyle_96)

You mentioned being a United fan, whereabouts specifically have you grown up?

I’ve grown up in Salford, right at the heart of Salford, and then I had my gran who was based in Lower Broughton.

You joined Rylands from Irlam, but where else had you been with your football before then?

I was at Bury until I was 16; unfortunately got let go for being too small at the time, that was the excuse I got given anyway. After that, I played with a few friends for a local team, and then I went down to FC United. I had a good year or two there, but I didn’t really know much about non-league, how you got paid and how the pyramid works; because I was at Bury until I was 16, I thought it was just the Football League and then nothing. The older I got, I understood that playing non-league can be enjoyable but you can also earn decent money from it. I went to FC United, never broke into the first team, and decided to go out on loan. Went to Ramsbottom and it didn’t really work out; I was small, I was far too weak for non-league football. Then after that, I broke my leg, so decided I was just going to knock football on the head for a bit, but I went to Irlam with Michael Dodd. It was more about going and playing with my mates, and then I really enjoyed it. Doddy asked me if I wanted to be the captain, so at 22, I was quite proud of it, to be honest with you. We finished in the top half of the table in year two, we got to the last 16 of the Vase, and for Irlam, it was a big achievement. We got the furthest we’d got in the FA Cup as well (second round qualifying) and got knocked out by York the season it all got cancelled because of Coronavirus.

In terms of the celebrations after the win at Wembley, where did you take it and what went on?!

You mentioned earlier we have Paul Stretford who’s Wayne Rooney’s agent, Harry Maguire’s agent, so we actually stayed in the same hotel all the England players stay in, The Grove. We tried getting into Wembley Way to see some fans, had a few drinks there, then jumped on the coach. We have this song that we sang after every game all year, which Podge instigates, so that was lively. We went to another bar in the hotel, came back to the main room, carried on drinking there, and then when we got moved on from there, there was about 30 of us in one hotel room, reminiscing! I think people were still up at 6/7/8 in the morning. When we got back to Rylands the next day, same again there, people were drinking until about midnight; I didn’t quite make it myself, I was far too rough to go again! I’ve never had a session quite like it.

 

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A post shared by Charlie Doyle (@charliedoyle_96)

So, Elliott Nevitt (scorer of Rylands’ three goals in the final) getting a move to Tranmere recently. When you were wishing him well in the group chat, did anyone come out with anything funny? Are you due some of his signing-on fee for winning him that penalty at Wembley?!

Yeah, without the hat-trick, does he sign for Tranmere?! He was at our game last night, Nevitt, to be fair; we played AFC Liverpool and he came to show his face. I think he’s going to do exceptionally well, but if he goes on to get contract number two, I wouldn’t mind asking for a few quid, because does he get that contract without the penalty and the hat-trick?!

You’re still only mid-20s now, but thinking about what kind of approach from a manager has got the best out of you during your time playing, what do you think that is?

It’s a mixture. I always try and compose myself before games. I’m very loud, I’m very bubbly, sometimes I go a little bit too far before games, but I like to approach games that way, so that when the game starts, I’m a bit more composed, I’ve not thought about it too much. In terms of encouragement from a gaffer, I don’t really need that. I don’t really need firing up either, so more just instructions from a tactical point of view, but other than that, just leave me to it. I encourage myself and get myself up for games. I’m not too keen on being scrutinised all the time. Maybe a little bit of encouragement, but I’m not someone who deals well with constantly being screamed at! To be honest, my previous manager at Irlam, Michael Dodd, he isn’t too dissimilar to Macca; if something needs changing or improving, he just talks to you, but he will have a go when needed.

Have you ever had to sing when you’ve joined a new team?

I always go really safe, so at Irlam, it was ‘Sweet Caroline’ (Neil Diamond), and the exact same again at Rylands! You sing the first two lines on your own, and then by the time the chorus hits, you’ve got everyone joining in.

Finally, in terms of work and other interests, what else are you involved in away from football?

I enjoy going to music events, raves, with my friends. I go to the gym a lot, and then just socialising with my pals; I’m really close with my friendship group. That’s really what I get up to outside work. I work in recruitment, which people who know me will say suits me, because I talk far too much!

Interview by @chris_brookes

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