Sunday, 18 June 2017


The well-known Binfield Moles' manager Roger Herridge kindly agreed to a written interview for this blog which he completed whilst relaxing in sun-drenched Sorrento... Fair play though, his mind still appears to be on non-league football...


"I am Berkshire born and bred (i.e. strong in the arm & thick in the head as the old saying goes) and I spent all my childhood living between Crowthorne & Wokingham. I went to a very small primary school, St Sebastians, 100 pupils all told. At 6 years of age I played in the school team, albeit as a GK wearing those cotton gloves with dimples on. (Not the useless outfielder condemned to goalie, surely??? And you had dimples? Ah, the gloves...) As the smallest school in the area we were the whipping boys, so I soon fell out of love with being a 'keeper."

I was in digs in Wokingham, behind The Rifle Volunteer pub' when I was at Bulmershe College Reading and a few mates were in digs in Crowthorne too... So, which pro' team has Roger followed?

"I am a QPR supporter and believe it or not we were a very good side in the early to mid-1970's and back then a lot of their players lived locally to me. My older sister (12 years my senior) worked with the wife of Ian Gillard who was one of QPR's full backs at the time & he used to send signed photos, etc, home for me. It got more exciting than that too as she then dated Gerry Francis who was both QPR & England captain at the time. He became my hero (despite the hair?) but sadly he didn't end up as my brother-in-law though, as she was one of many he was dating at the time! 

I also like my local team to do well, Reading FC, who were the first side I ever went to watch with my older brother at their old ground Elm Park. I used to love the atmosphere standing on the terraces & drinking my half-time bovril."

Odd because when I started at college, Reading (Steve Death and John Pratt as 'keepers, Dick Habbin and Les Chappell in attack...) were way down in the depths of Division 3 and the first game I saw at Elm Park was a 2-3 defeat to Walsall but the Royals hardly lost after that and only a last minute strike by Luton's Malcolm MacDonald near the season's end wrecked The Biscuitmen's promotion chances... 

I asked Roger which teams he had played for and also managed since his early days...

"After playing boys' football at a couple of local boys' clubs I played my youth football at Bracknell Town & Egham Town before making my debut in senior football as a 16 year old for Finchampstead who were managed at the time by local legend Bob Langridge, who is still currently involved at Bracknell Town. Finch' had some great players at the time and one of the best playing surfaces for miles. Wokingham Town were the top side in the area during that period, playing at what would now be Step 2 level but sadly I wasn't up to that, so there was no better place to enjoy one's football than at Finchampstead. 

Foolishly I got married at the age of 20, so moved to Swindon for a few years where I just played some Wiltshire County League football before rejoining Finchampstead when I moved back home at 24 and that's where I stayed for the next 12 years before I underwent a back operation.

From the age of 32 I had been coaching/managing in the Youth Section at Wokingham, after my back operation I took my first steps into senior management there when I became Player/Manager of their reserve side. I loved this period of bringing young lads through into men's football. I also got to play my last game in senior football for Wokingham on Boxing Day as a last minute call up for the first team in an away game against a good Kintbury Rangers side .

Things weren't going well for the first team at the time, I walked into the dressing room and counted how many other players were in there and got to 10, so worked out I would be starting. I slotted in at left back (I was the most right-sided player you would ever meet) and went on to play a blinder... Well I thought I did but we lost 7-0 and the headlines in the Wokingham Times newspaper during the following week included, "Things have got so bad for Wokingham that even veteran reserve team manager Roger Herridge got 90 minutes..." It was time to hang the boots up...

There was a change at first team level soon afterwards when former Reading professional Wayne Wanklyn took over and I stepped up to be his assistant. They were good times, Wayne had faith in young players too and we eventually won promotion to the Hellenic Premier division as well as winning the Reading Senior Cup. During this time I was also managing our Allied Counties side U18s who finished runners-up in the Premier Division in consecutive seasons and also won the County Youth Cup.

I had some players in that side who had come all the way through the Youth section of the club, starting at U7s and a number of the players were also first team regulars at the time too.

I was also coaching both the U7s and U17s at the club at the time and I was spending more time there that at home!

Wayne stepped down a month into our first season in the Hellenic Premier League & I was appointed as Manager. It was certainly a steep learning curve but a challenge I enjoyed. I relinquished all my other roles at the club to concentrate on my new one. I enjoyed my three seasons in charge and I was managing my hometown club, playing with predominantly Wokingham based players. We showed improvement year on year in terms of league position, we played entertaining football and won the Reading Senior Cup at the Madejski Stadium on two occasions. 

Wokingham was a great club with great support but the ground sharing situation was a strain for everyone so the decision was made to seek demotion to Step 6 so the club could return to playing in the town after a period at Bracknell Town's ground. When that decision was confirmed I felt the time was right to move on, which I did to become Mark Tallentire's assistant at local rivals Binfield. 

Working with Tally was great, again a learning curve as I went from managing a group of lads, the majority of whom I had known through boys and youth football, to being involved with a much more experienced squad of players. 

Tally was an experienced Manager too and just as from Wayne Wanklyn I learnt a lot from Tally too. We assembled a formidable squad during that first season but for some reason it didn't quite click, although a 5th place finish was still decent .

Early the following season Tally resigned & I was given the opportunity to take over, certainly big shoes to fill as Tally had done a fantastic job in his time at the club, winning three cups & also just missing out on winning the league too.

My time at Binfield has been enjoyable so far , we haven't quite met expectations in terms of league position during the last two seasons, although a top 8 finish is certainly respectable in a very competitive league. Silverware has also eluded us in terms of cup competitions despite reaching five finals during my tenure; we currently have a habit of collecting the runners-up medals!"

I wondered which periods of Roger's playing and managerial careers he considered his most successful... 

"My playing days at Finchampstead in my late 20's were my most enjoyable & successful playing in the Chiltonian League and it wasn't like modern times when players change club from one season to the next; we had a nucleus of players that had been with the club for many years, we were mates and enjoyed each others' company on and off the pitch. 

We were always in the higher echelons of the league and regular cup finalists too. We reached the County Cup final one year beating a good Didcot Town team in the semi final. Our opponents in the final were Abingdon (can't remember whether it was United or Town) and the game was played at Chesham United ground. I unfortunately missed the game due to injury but made my debut in the dug-out as stand-in co-manager that day as our Manager Steve McClurg was away on holiday. We lost narrowly 1-0 but I enjoyed being in the dug-out that night and it was probably that day that gave me the desire to go on and manage.

We had some great players at Finch too, players that could quite easily have played a much higher level. One in particular, Dave Husk was courted by all the top non-league sides in the area; he had everything, so much natural talent but his only weakness was his love for beer!

My most successful years as Manager were at Wokingham I suppose, mainly as I at least won some silverware, whereas at Binfield I am still trying hard for that first elusive trophy. I am enjoying the challenge of building a competitive side in an area which has a lot of clubs playing at the same level, with a few of them throwing great resources at it too.

In terms of enjoyment, both are equal, both are great, great clubs. Wokingham are at last looking like they will be able to soon get floodlights to be able to play at the level they aspire to, whereas at Binfield we are currently enjoying some ongoing development which has recently seen new changing rooms built with the clubhouse also currently being renovated.

We are lucky at Binfield to have a Secretary in Rob Challis who you would struggle to better at any level of non-league football; we also have a great Chairman in Bob Bacon, supported by a good committee."

I have met the guys at Binfield and certainly Bob and Rob have been good to provide me with any information I have needed to add to my blog...

I asked Roger if there were there any coaches or managers that he had actually learned valuable advice from and if so, who they were and what things he learned... 

"A number management-wise but Wayne Wanklyn especially, being an ex-pro' and someone who had managed at a higher level. He was someone who commanded respect & when he spoke everybody listened. He could take paint off walls with his half-time rants but also knew the time to praise his players. 

Tally was one of the hardest working Managers I worked with and he so wanted to win the league with Binfield. It's no surprise that after a recharge of the batteries he is doing so well at our resurgent local rivals, Bracknell Town. 

Then there is Graysie, Graham Malcolm, the ex Flackwell Manager. I haven't known him as long as the other two but he is someone I turn to for advice. We started to have regular conversations when he was in his early days at Flackwell and have been in regular contact ever since even though he has a new life in Gibraltar. He had a fantastic spell as Manager at the Heathens, winning the Hellenic League and multiple cups.

Coach-wise the two best I have worked with are undoubtably my current one at Binfield, Rob Wytchard, who won the league whilst at Wantage Town and Sam Page who was a young coach we had a Wokingham who moved on to work within the Academy at Chelsea.  

Rob and I are looking forward to the challenges that the new season will bring, we are hoping to keep the nucleus of last season's squad and add to it. We know that the 'big boys' in the league will court our better players but we have the belief that no matter what, we will put together another competitive squad."

I wondered what qualities coaches and managers should have, in Roger's view...

"I don't recommend management! Nothing really prepares you for it and sometimes I have to remind myself that I am only a volunteer! Step 5 is a hard level to be at too, for you are looking for commitment from your players for very little resource in return in most cases. You have to be able to communicate but it's very difficult to have the time to communicate as much as you need to. 

Personally I know I am not perfect, that's why I am managing at the level I do; I know at times I get it wrong but I do at least have the balls to admit it when I do. It's not always the players' faults when you get beaten!

You have to be able to manage up and down, the expectations of your club and committee plus also dealing with the aspirations of the young players coming through from your development teams. You will always have your critics but you have to be able to make tough decisions at times and those won't please everyone.

As a coach and manager you are always learning, from people you work with and also from others you come up against. You can't ever lose the desire to improve by learning because when you do it's probably time to call it a day." 

As a coach/manager, what qualities does Roger look for in his players? Strength, fitness, size, maybe? Or perhaps skills, individuality and pace? 

"I have always been a manager who prefers players with good technique and that probably comes from my early days of coaching in boys' and youth football. I have always liked my sides to pass the ball but realise you can't always do that due to some of the surfaces we have to play on and sometimes the conditions you can sometimes face. These days I get equally excited by a defender that loves to defend as much as a wide player who can beat opponents with an end product. At Step 5 level I believe you need a side full of strength, power and pace."

Does Roger look for a certain type of character, or doesn't that bother him? 

"Team spirit is important in any side and I have never really had a bad one in my time in management, although I have had some better than others. I don't do bad attitudes though and those players don't tend to last long in my sides. All I ask is that players want to be coached and to respect me and what I am trying to do. You need characters in your dressing room though, that's for sure and most importantly leaders, who are the hardest to come by." 

Which players, both team-mates and opponents have impressed Roger during his playing career and more importantly, during his managerial career? 

"The best players I played with were Husky as mentioned earlier, plus Peter Amor who was another forward at Finchampstead; he too had everything. Then there was Willie Graham who played alongside me in the centre of the park. Willie was initially at Brentford and came down through various non-league sides to end his playing days at Finchampstead. He was just quality on the ball, I just did the running for him, gave him the ball and let him play.

I played against a lot of good players but the hardest challenge I ever faced was when I had to play against Micky Havermans. Mick was in the Finchampstead side that won the Chiltonian League but went on to score goals for fun for both Binfield & then Bracknell at the higher level.

I used to have sleepless nights before facing Mick, for he was a real handful, he worked from the front and if he had a chance he would always seem to take it.

I have listed a lot of players below that impressed me when I have managed them but there are many others too. In terms of players that my teams have faced over the years there are so, so many too but if I have to mention a few I have always been impressed with Troy Brian (Ardley), a forward who has always caused my sides problems. Ryan Brooks was good also when he played at both Ardley & Kidlington, plus the two wide boys there, Castle and Coyley.

I have to mention TJ (Bohane) as he has scored goals for fun in the Hellenic League for years and then of course there is Danny Burnell at Flackwell Heath, whose goalscoring exploits speak for themselves, despite spending a third of the season suspended.

In terms of the best players over the last few years Rob Saunders when at Ascot United and Callum Willmoth (Thatcham Town) take some beating. Rob has now retired gracefully but Callum has just been signed by Conference South side Hungerford, where I am sure he will make an impact."

A Herridge-Select team to choose from players Roger has managed?

"I am bound to upset somebody here by leaving them out but here goes: I am a manager and I make tough decisions! I will keep it simple: 4-4-2... 

Goalkeeper- Dan Weait (currently at Flackwell Heath): just a top top 'keeper, kicks well, good shot stopper, great hands. I don't even think he really loves the game for if he did he would be playing two or three levels higher.

Right-back- Jack Broome: been with me at both Wokingham and now Binfield. Mr Versatile really, as he can do a job in a number of positions but he is technically good, strong and can put a ball in a channel when needed.

Centre-back- David Woozley (retired): everything about him was just class, as you would expect from someone who was a professional at clubs such as Crystal Palace, Torquay and Crawley. Calm and composed on the ball, unbeatable in the air. Wooze was a leader that both the young and old learned from when he played in the Binfield side.

Centre-back- James Rusby (Hungerford Town): technically top-drawer, Rus can play anywhere across the back four or in the centre of the park. An elegant footballer with a great ability on the ball. Has a decent long throw on him too. Has had some bad injuries over the years but always comes back better, fitter and stronger.

Left-back- Alex Luis: played in both my Wokingham Allied & First teams before joining me at Binfield. Technically good & probably the best I have seen defend in one-on-one situations. 

Right midfield- Josh Howell (now at Thatcham Town): a young man who came through our Youth section at Binfield and broke into the first team whilst still playing in the Allied Counties side. He has great feet, good pace and is capable of scoring great goals from distance. Had a serious injury last season but is raring to go this term. Has the potential to play much higher. 

Centre midfield- David Bellis (now at Alvechurch): it broke my heart when he moved to the Midlands; he was the first name on the team sheet when I was Wokingham manager at both Allied and first team level. A great engine on him, the most consistent player I have ever managed. Nothing flash about him, he just does all the right things on the football pitch. Good positional sense and perfect protection sitting in front of any defence.

Centre midfield- Carl Withers (Bracknell Town): an absolute Rolls Royce of a footballer, one who seems to get better with age. Inherited him when I took charge at Binfield; I knew he was good but didn't realise how good until I took over. He never let me down on the football pitch, he possesses a great passing range and a decent shot too. 

Left midfield- Seb Bowerman (Bracknell Town): another who broke into the Binfield 1st team whilst still playing Youth football. Mesmerising to watch at times and a good carrier of the ball with the ability to beat players on either side. A regular goal scorer too, he will, like Josh, only get better with age.

Striker- Liam Ferdinand: A young forward with great potential, who has been our leading goalscorer for the last two seasons at Binfield. Can play as a number 9 or 10 and works tirelessly for his team-mates.

Striker- Adam Cornell (Bracknell Town): a great finisher, rarely wasteful in front of goal. An intelligent forward who makes great runs and links play so well. Adam played for me for a while whilst I was at Wokingham & scored one of the best goals I have ever seen in a Cup Final at the Madejski. 

On the bench:

Shane Cooper Clark (Thatcham Town): striker. A natural goalscorer with two good feet. Like Cornell he links play and holds the ball up well. Probably the best finisher I have managed, lethal in the penalty box and from dead ball situations. Not the quickest but with his football brain you don't need to be...

Jemel Johnson (Thatcham Town): strength, power, pace- JJ has it all. He is a threat wherever he plays, either out wide or as a 9 where he gets teams stretched. Doesn't score as many goals as he should but it's his work rate that creates the opportunities for his team-mates.

Jeff Brown, a two-footed centre-back: a proper defender, who heads it, kicks it and above all, loves to defend. Came into our side at Binfield in the mid-part of last season after not playing for 18 months. His experience of playing at higher levels was invaluable to us and helped us come through a sticky patch.

Harrison Bayley: I think I shocked a few when I signed him for Binfield, including myself! A former Youth team player at Reading FC and one who played professionally in Cyprus. Strong and tidy on the ball, rarely gives possession away and one that leads from the front on the pitch.

Josh Pearson: the most technically gifted player I have ever had the pleasure to manage. On his day unplayable with a left foot that can only be described as a wand. Sadly not playing anywhere currently after losing his desire to play the game. At 25 years of age I hope he regains that and goes on to fulfil his potential.

Note: no sub' goalie as Broomey is decent between the sticks!

What does Roger consider to have been his strengths as a manager? And what would he say have been his weaknesses?

"I would like to think I have a reputation for not being afraid to play young players; an old saying, but if you are good enough you are old enough. You have to work hard as a Manager, you have to put the hours in. I am always out watching games, learning, scouting players. I am not afraid to admit that I got it wrong either; I am resilient, for the easiest thing to do when things aren't going well is to walk away. I have never done that yet...

Communication can always improve, it's just the time to do it. I know I need to be braver in making substitutions too, I need to see things more quickly. I used to, as a number 2 but as a number 1 there are a lot more things going through your head during a game, especially when in a bad spell of results!"

Were there any controversial incidents in Roger's career? 

"I have never courted controversy!"  

Which professional players or managers have influenced Roger over the years?

"I mentioned Gerry Francis earlier, he was my all time hero but I loved Tony Currie too and when I played I wanted to be a mixture of both. As a Manager Bobby Robson is right up there for me; he took a lot of criticism during his time as England Manger but stuck at it and left the job a hero. I met him once, in a queue at Legoland, Windsor, a day that will live long in the memory."

Which professional players and managers have been Roger's favourites through the years?

"Other than the ones above, player-wise Diego Maradona was the best player I have ever seen. I watched Messi at the Nou Camp a month or so ago and was mesmerised by him but Maradonna is still the tops for me. (Interesting that because Messi has an on-field temperament which I prefer to the more harrowing Maradona and the often irritating Ronaldo...)   Management-wise I was also a big fan of Glenn Hoddle, I liked the way he set his teams up and the way they played. I didn't agree with his personal views but I do wonder whether that success would have come for our National team if he had stayed for a few years longer."

Who would Roger most like to thank for affecting his managerial career through the years?

"The three I mentioned earlier: Wayne Wanklyn, Mark Tallentire and Graham Malcolm, plus a couple of Managers I played under, Micky Shaw & Steve McClurg. All very different but all with good qualities you need to be a successful Manager."

How does Mr Herridge see his future in the game?

"Hard question! I would like to think I still have a lot to offer but having turned 50 I now maybe think it's a young man's game now both off the pitch as well as on it. I see some excellent young and aspiring managers locally at all levels. In the Hellenic League you have the likes of Michael Herbert (Woodley Town), Kieron Jennings (Aldermarston ) plus Danny Robinson (Thatcham Town) & Shoney (Flackwell Heath) of course. Then you look at higher levels with Barts (Marlow), Unders & Bakes (Slough) & not forgetting Bobby Wilkinson at Hungerford, who are all doing fantastic jobs...

I think my chance of doing it at a higher level may have passed me by but you never know what the future may bring I suppose."

Finally, there had to be some amusing incidents he would like to mention? 

"Not many actually, for I have led a sheltered life! I always remember a great goal we scored during a game involving Wokingham that wasn't given. The effort from the edge of the box hit the back of the net, rebounded out, hit a covering defender and bounced out of play. Whilst we all celebrated a great goal the referee and linesman were in consultation and ended up giving a corner. Whenever I see the two officials involved I remind them of that day...

I have managed many daft players but it would be unfair to name them! I remember one player in particular who when during an early pre season session I said we were doing a 12 minute run; he wandered over to me and asked, "How long will that take?" It wasn't the only time he left me speechless... 

Then there was another player who turned up late for a home FA Cup game versus Shortwood a couple of seasons ago because he had driven to Gloucestershire thinking we were away. Fair play to him though he did manage to get back to our ground just after kick-off.

I was 38 when I played my last game v Kintbury...

Another player to impress me has been goalie Dave Evans of Tuffley Rovers; he played for Slimbridge who we faced in our first game in the Hellenic Premier League after promotion. He was outstanding in that game and in every other game my teams have faced him in ever since. The save he made last season against us from an effort by Sean Moore was on another level... "

Thanks to Binfield's Roger Herridge for the entertaining and interesting account of his soccer career so far... 

Great stuff...


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