Leeds United legend Brendan Ormsby answers your questions.
It’s pre-season again, just wondering who was the best and worst trainer you have played with? And who, as a manager, was the toughest task-master you worked under?
ANDY WHITE, Leeds
I know one thing Andy, pre-season has all changed now. In my day it just used to be all running – it was a while before we even got the footballs out.
At Pontefract Collieries, where I’m manager now, I don’t just want to run and run them this pre-season, though you do need some work under your belt to get you through the long season ahead. When the lads are working with the ball they don’t actually realise they are doing so much running, though I’ve already given them a couple of heavy running sessions – we’ve been back a week – and finished with ball games.
It’s a change from back in my younger days at Aston Villa when you used to report back in and the gaffer, Ron Saunders, and his staff would take us up to a local farm in the countryside – I don’t know who picked it – and he’d have us doing shuttle runs up and down this massive hill. It had a big dip in the middle of it and you had to run through that as well. There were poles down at the bottom and we’d do shuttles around them too and he’d keep moving the top one back 40 yards!
I also remember we had basins full of this purple stuff for your feet. Obviously, you’re wearing new boots and things, and breaking them in, and this stuff would harden your feet up. There used be purple footprints all around the changing room!
Saunders was tough, we used to call him ‘Sergeant Major’ – I don’t know if he was in the Army but he had a great body on him – and he was a very strict disciplinarian and a hard manager, definitely not someone to cross. You never used to mess with him. I had a few rollickings off him, but never answered him back! You’d just take it and get on with it.
At Leeds, Howard Wilkinson wasn’t actually too bad, and he got the balls out in pre-season pretty early on. Granted, he had us doing a fair bit of running as well, which took us away from the ground to other parts of Leeds. His assistant, Mick Hennigan, used to take us to Roundhay Park and one day I remember, he even took us into the bar and bought us a drink! Mind you, that rarely happened!
When it’s comes to pre-season running, the keepers are always useless. At Villa, we had Jimmy Rimmer, Nigel Spink, John Burridge and Jake Findley – Jake was probably the worst! They can’t do long distances, and while they do need a bit of running they don’t need it as much as the outfield players. You let them get on with their own job.
In terms of good trainers at Villa, Frank Carrodus and Des Bremner could run all day. Tony Morley wasn’t bad and ‘Sid’ Cowans was a good trainer. In terms of long-distance running I was okay. I had good stamina and didn’t mind it. You hate doing it, but when you finish, you’re glad you’ve done it as it’s for your own benefit.
In my Leeds days, Ronnie Robinson, who we called ‘Rambo’, was a good trainer and loved it. Ian Baird, though people might not think it, was also good, as was Ian Snodin.