Swindon Town Head Coach Ben Garner is the feature interview for our Official Matchday Magazine for the Northampton game on New Year's Day.
The Reds open up 2022 on Saturday by entertaining The Cobblers at The County Ground (3pm Kick-Off), and the latest edition of 'town' is now available to download.
Among the highlights is a lengthy exclusive interview with Garner, who reflects on the season so far and opens up on his coaching background.
Because we're feeling nice, Town fans can now read a snippet of Garner's sit-down with 'town' ahead of tomorrow's game..
Gaffer, they say a week can be a long time in football but it has been a whirlwind of a six months or so for you here at The County Ground. Going back right to the beginning, can you take us back to how you got the Head Coach job here....
"At that time I had a conversation regarding a couple of other jobs, one here and one abroad. I then got the opportunity to go and meet and speak with Ben Chorley, which I felt went very well and we were on the same page about a lot of things in terms of recruitment, how we wanted to play, how to build the club from a footballing perspective and then I got the opportunity to speak with and be interviewed by Clem as the new Owner coming in. I was really impressed with him; I got a really good feel from him straightaway about what he wanted to do, and I was really impressed with how he spoke about the long-term. He was asking me questions about where I saw us in eight years' time and that is quite rare, normally it is where do you see us in eight days' time or eight weeks' time, so I got a really good feel from the off and I really enjoyed the conversations and the direction they wanted to take the club in. When I was offered the job I was delighted because I got such a good feel from the conversations and was really excited by the project and what was trying to be achieved."
It has been well documented already but you came in, preseason was underway, you had less than eight players on the books and it was a mammoth undertaking in what was a very, very short window. So, going back to that moment, just what was your mindset as you tried to navigate that initial first few weeks?
"It was just being positive. The mindset was it is what it is and there was no point in moaning or complaining about it - this was the situation, this is what we're walking into, how do we make the best of it and every minute single minute of that preseason counted in terms of training, in terms of recruitment and in terms of the amount of work that went on behind the scenes and it was just this is where we are so let's get cracking, let's get on with it, let's be positive and in some ways it was nice having such a fresh start and a clean slate in terms of the players in the building and being able to add so many. At least we could add players we wanted at the club, and we felt fitted what we were trying to build. It was literally let's get to work, let's get cracking and let's put as much into this as we can to get us up and running as quickly as possible. We just attacked each game and went for it from day one and tried to build as quickly as we possibly could. There was a lot of training, a lot of coaching and a lot of work behind the scenes and it was hard without a doubt, but it was enjoyable at the same time."
All of that hard work led to Scunthorpe on the opening day of the season and after a summer of people tipping the club for relegation, the win that day kind of set the scene for what has unfolded thus far, right?
"The remit at the time was to stay in the Football League. For the size of the club, for the history and tradition of the club, we needed to stabilise, we needed to stay in the league, and we needed to get some solid foundations in place. That wasn't really the message to the players from day one, though, it was let's go, let's attack from day one and there's no pressure on us, this is how we're going to play, this is how we're going to go about things.
"There were a lot of players that were brought in such a short period of time, but they had good ability, good characters and we felt we could be competitive from the off. The difficult thing in those early games was that we didn't really know where the players were going to be physically. We were going into that first game at Scunthorpe, and I knew there were players who couldn't last 90 minutes in that game, so you have to factor that in and that was probably my one thought going into the Scunthorpe game that the last 20 minutes could be tough for us here because we've got players who haven't done 90 minutes in preseason, a lot of them hadn't.
"Normally they would have a couple of 90 minutes under their belts, six or seven weeks of training and you're confident going into where the group is physically, but we didn't have that luxury and we were actually getting people up to speed within league games and within cup games in the early part of the season. The group has been fantastic from the start, they've trained brilliantly from the very first session all the way through and we got off to a great start at Scunthorpe, which bred confidence and certainly gave the supporters a new lease of life and an example of what we were trying to do. It was a fantastic start and I think that first game was so important in terms of what we've been able to build since."
Like what you've read so far?
You can now read the full interview with Ben Garner by downloading tomorrow's edition of 'town' for just £2 by clicking RIGHT HERE.
Alternatively, our hard copy version of our Official Matchday Magazine will be available to purchase from STFC Store later today, and from outside the ground prior to kick-off on Saturday.