Corby Town manager Tommy Wright is looking forward to testing himself against “top coaches” as they host the second Steel Cup this weekend.
Following on from the success of last year’s inaugural Steel Cup that involved the U21 sides from FC Porto, Liverpool and eventual winners PSV Eindhoven, Corby will once again test themselves against three professional outfits in preparation for the new season.
As well as the returning holders PSV, youngsters from SkyBet Championship clubs Leeds United and Newcastle United will make the trip to Steel Park.
Wright’s Steelmen side will face Newcastle on Saturday, before taking on Leeds twenty four hours later and the former Leicester City and Darlington player can’t wait to take on the challenges that lie in wait.
He said “For the players it is an opportunity to test themselves against high class opposition and for me personally it is the same.
“I am up against really top class coaches from this country and in Europe, that is a major test for and one that I will relish.
It is an honour to take on that challenge and I can’t wait”
Wright admitted that last year’s Steel Cup had been a success in many ways, but not in a financial sense.
As well as seeing the young hopefuls from Porto, PSV and Liverpool, the Reds chose to give a run-out to first teamers Coutinho and Emre Can.
And that was enough to convince the Steelmen board to back Wright and give the competition a second year.
Wright commented “The club didn’t make great money from it last year because it takes a lot to get the clubs over here and to play.
“However it did put the club on the map a bit and sometimes that can be as beneficial as anything.
“Last year was surreal to see Coutinho and Can at Steel Park was something I don’t think we will see ever again.
“It was worth all of the effort and it will be again this year”
One of the coaches Wright will go up against is former Liverpool and England forward Peter Beardsley.
Wright described the Newcastle United Football Development Manager as a “legend” and admitted that it would be an honour to go up against someone he admired during the Magpies march up the Premier League during the 1990s.
He said “Peter Beardsley is a household name, he is a legend in football and at Newcastle United.
“When I grew up Newcastle were everybody’s second club, it was the Keegan years and they were the team to watch.
“It will be an honour to coach against him, just as it has been to even speak to him on the phone.
“We have two clubs in Newcastle and Leeds that are two of the best supported clubs, they are huge clubs and probably shouldn’t be in the league they are in and we can’t wait to welcome their supporters to Corby”
The schedule of the competition dictate that each side will face only two of the competing sides over the weekend.
Following relegation into the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League last season, Wright revealed that the side’s fixtures against Newcastle and Leeds were specifically chosen to give his players a test against skill and strength, something he feels will benefit them throughout the new season.
“We have taken the lads into daytime training and they are having double sessions so this is a test of their fitness more than anything.
“When we looked at the schedule we chose to play Newcastle and Leeds because with Northern lads you get ability and a bit of rough and readiness.
“That will be a really good test for us and will be good preparation for us going into the Northern Premier League this season because it is clear they will be skilful but they will also be able to mix it up a bit”
Wright was honest in his assessment of the challenge that lies ahead of his side in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, as he admitted that he isn’t surprised to see them amongst the favourites for promotion.
And he believes that their summer recruitment has given them a chance to make an immediate return to the Vanarama National League North.
“Coming down you are always seen as a favourite to go back up.
“I think we have recruited well this season, we have added to our squad and although last year was a frustrating season it was also a great learning experience.
“I have won the Southern Premier League, now we are in the Northern Premier League and I think we have a group of lads that can put in a serious challenge to do that”
Serious challenges are something Tommy Wright and Corby Town are becoming used to and this weekend’s games against Newcastle United and Leeds United will certainly off them another.
Interview: Mark Carruthers (@marknldaily)