Former Middlesbrough and Cardiff City striker Andy Campbell talks about his hopes for his managerial career at West Auckland Town.
As the full time whistle blows there is a sense of frustration around West Auckland Town’s WSI Stadium.
The indecisive North East weather dictates that after spells of snow, hail, rain and sun, the shrill of the referee’s whistle is masked by increasingly blustery conditions.
Although by this time at least the sun was out.
However, the wind cannot mask the murmerings of annoyance from a small portion of the home support, as their side missed a big opportunity to take a big step towards securing their Northern League Division One status.
The West faithful’s outlook is matched by the man in the home dugout, as former Middlesbrough and Cardiff City striker Andy Campbell wears the look of a frustrated soul as the whistle blows.
He knows his side could and probably should have won comfortably against the division’s basement club Norton and Stockton Ancients.
For much of the game Campbell cut a calm figure in the home dugout, although his calm nature gave way to sporadic bursts of annoyance as some contentious decisions went against his side.
And despite taking a one goal lead into the final fifteen minutes, the Ancients snatched a point to keep alive their admittedly slim hopes of survival.
Frustration had turned into disappointment for Campbell.
Half an hour later that has disappeared, as he stands pitchside, ready to speak with a local television show with West’s main stand, sporting memories of recent trips to Wembley in the FA Vase and their “World Cup” wins, providing the backdrop.
Once those media duties are complete Campbell looks visably relaxed and provides a more methodical assessment of his side’s predicament.
“I said to the boys in the dressing room, my standards are high, they always will be.
“I want them to turn up on time, I want them looking the part before, during and after the match.
“If they don’t want to be part of that then they can go, I need players to reach the standards I want, it’s simple as that.
“It is something I had drummed into me when I was coming through at Middlesbrough and I want the same here, it’s shape up or ship out
“We shoud have taken all three points today, I know that and they know that.
“We played well for most of the game but didn’t see it out.
“It’s a learning curve for the players and for myself and today is a game where we will take the positives and negatives and use them to move forward”
A learning curve seems an apt description of Campbell’s entire career as a player and his subsuquesnt move into the dugout.
As a youngster, as he mentioned, he came through the highly successful Middlesbrough academy and progressed into the first team.
In his time with the Teesside club he trained and played alongside the likes of Paul Gascoigne and Juninho.
And in doing so he believes he has gained a valuable insight into how the top players conduct themselves and expressed his hope that he could pass on the same qualities to his own players..
“It was great looking up to people like Gazza and Juninho and seeing how they carried themselves.
“I learnt so much as a player about how their attitude towards the game was. They were nice people, they were role models and this something I say to my players.
“They are role models to our young supporters, they influence younger people.
“We play some good stuff, they try to play the way I think the game should be played and that has come from watching some of the great players I have played with throughout my career”
Campbell’s playing career saw him hit some notable highs.
He scored a goal in Middlesbrough’s 2-0 FA Cup win against a Manchester United side containing the likes of Roy Keane, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville in January 2002.
And his early promise led to an England U21 call-up.
However, possibly his biggest acheivement during his playing career, and the one that saw him become a cult hero at Cardiff City, was his extra time winner against Queens Park Rangers in the 2003 Football League Second Division play-off final.
During his career he worked under some of English football’s most notable coaches.
And despite playing under the likes of Steve Bruce and Bryan Robson, Campbell points to the man that has just led Northampton Town to the SkyBet League Two title as his biggest coaching influence.
He said “I think I have taken a little bit from everybody in my career and I have played under some top coaches and managers.
“It may be a surprise to some but I think the one I took the most from was Chris Wilder, the Northampton Town manager, although there are rumours he is going to Bolton Wanderers.
“He was such a good man-manager, the way he spoke to players, he made them feel valued.
“That’s not to say the top managers I played under didn’t do that.
“The likes of Steve Bruce, Steve McClaren, Sam Allardyce and Bryan Robson were great, all of them had their positives.
“But Chris was a bigger influence, he made me want to be a coach and a manager when I was going into my thirties at Halifax.
“I watched him closely, the way he conducted himself in matchday and training, he was the one I want to follow”
After moving into the non-league game with Halifax Town, Campbell had spells with Farsley Celtic and Bradford Park Avenue before bringing his playing career to a close with Whitby Town.
After his departure from the Turnbull Ground, Campbell was handed a chance in management by EBAC Northern League club Norton and Stockton Ancients in June 2012.
He led the Stockton-on Tees based club to promotion into the Northern League’s top tier last season, before moving to West Auckland Town in the summer.
That move, he says, is one that he doesn’t regret, as he admits he is taking on a “long project” with the club.
“I was at Norton for three seasons and it is a wonderful club, but it was time to move and I don’t regret that.
“It was a no-brainer to come here, I think it is a long project to get things right but I want to move up the league at some point.
“I am ambitious, there is the FA Vase and we want to do well in that and the FA Cup.
“When you get to finals and playing in big games, you get a buzz and I want more of that.
“In five years time I would hope I have progressed and if it is with West Auckland, where we go up the leagues, then I hope we can do it.
We are at the big club, we know that and I think we are in the right place”
West Auckland are a club steeped in history.
Twice they were proclaimed World Cup winners in 1909 and 1911.
The amateurs took on the likes of FC Zurich and Juventus in a competition set up by businessman Sir Thomas Lipton.
And West shocked everyone to bring the trophy – seen with Campbell above – back to County Durham.
But it is living up to acheievements in the the club’s more recent history that Campbell believes gives his the biggest challenge.
“There is a weight of responsibility with West Auckland Town and although it is linked with the history of the club, I think it is more to do with what (former manager) Peter Dixon achieved here.
“He was successful and I knew what I had on my hands here to follow him.
“It has been tough and it has been a challenge but I do believe in myself, I believe in my players and I think that to get to the good times you have to go through the bad.
“This is a well-known club in non-league, obviously the World Cup stuff is a big part of that.
“But it is a positive, it helps attract players and we are talking to players to bring in next season and they know what the club can be.
“We want to progress as quick as we can and we need to attract big crowds, we can only do that by being successful”
Interview: Mark Carruthers