We interviewed former-City reserve team coach David Coates for this year’s Summer Special…
FOX: How do you know when you’ve done a good day’s work as a coach?
DC: I think the key is getting the players to listen to you attentively rather than gazing off into space! I’d say to them: “Don’t look at the bloody floor, look at me! Listen to what I’m saying!”
They might not think I’m a very good coach, it’s up to me to prove that I am.
I did like to be a popular coach and I liked a drink with the lads, maybe a bit too much sometimes. I remember we went on a trip to Sweden, a place called Hindersgarden near Gothenburg with a lake next to it, which was like heaven. Frank Worthington said it was the best trip he had ever been on. Jim had stayed behind to sign Steve Kember and Brian Alderson, his last two signings. He never signed a player in his last season, we finished 11th or something like that and he was rewarded with the sack. Idiotic.
We sank like a stone the following season.
I was in charge while Jim wasn’t there but he knew I was a bit of a soft touch who liked to be popular. As we went out there Dennis Rofe was drunk on the plane.
The hostesses kept saying: “Would you like another drink sir?” “Yes please, I’ll have another vodka.” and Dennis was in fine buoyant form, likeable bloke that he was.
We had directors Mr Sharp and Mr Needham with us. I tried to get control of them straight away when we got there at about four in the afternoon. “Right then, get your kit on and get out on that pitch. Training starts in twenty minutes.”
The only trouble was Dennis was pissed and couldn’t move his legs properly. There was a humorous side to it.
In the end I had to say to him: “Dennis, we’re going to have shooting practice and when it is your turn I want you to shoot the ball way beyond the goal, go and fetch it, but don’t come back. Do you get my meaning?”
He knew I would be shown up in front of Mr Sharp and Mr Needham with him drunk on my watch so he toddled off and stayed amongst the trees. That shooting practice went down in the annals of club history.
The Wool was next. He was so hopeless at shooting that in the end I said to him: “Alan, just go into the woods and stay there.”
I once told that story to a City fan and he was appalled that a professional first division footballer wasn’t capable of shooting into an open goal. But Alan had funny feet. He was a defender first, second and last. He was the man who was once asked to man mark George Best out of a game and he did a good job of it. He stopped Besty from having the ball for virtually the entire game. Best was furious as the Wool followed him all over the pitch. Len Glover didn’t think that was very good, but it worked.
The Wool was once asked to play left-back and he refused. He’d do right-back, right and left centre-half, even occasionally midfield, but he wouldn’t do left-back.
Jim said: “I’ll persuade him.” but I said “Don’t bother, if he says he doesn’t want to do it, it’s because he can’t do it. His mind won’t allow him, so forget about it. Put some bugger else in at left-back.”
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