We did a feature length View From Ryton with Ray Gooding who returned to the club this month as a scout...
Here at PUSB matchday programme and www.ccfc.co.uk, we want you to feel closer to your team and bring you exclusive behind-the-scenes insight from Coventry City. So, throughout the season, the ‘View from Ryton’ will give you a look into the day-to-day operation at CCFC.
Today’s special View from Ryton comes courtesy of returning player, coach and scout Ray Gooding…
Well, firstly, let me start by saying how delighted I am to be back at the Sky Blues. Since I joined the club as an apprentice after a trial in 1976, played for the first-team, worked at the club’s centre of excellence and overall, had over 27 years at the club, I’ve always felt as though this is my club.
I’ve worked at both Newcastle United and Birmingham City recently but wherever I’ve been since I left the club, it just hasn’t felt the same. I wanted to come back to the club where I’ve been since a kid and it just feels right for me.
It’s also a great Academy to get involved with at the moment as there aren’t many more Academies in the country producing first-team players at the moment. When we had the centre of excellence before the Academies came in, we used to run everything on a shoestring but you were fortunate to have good staff.
We’d be running our development of excellence scheme in the Coventry and Warwickshire area, and we’d have just pick on all the young players in our area. We’d pull them from football courses, Sunday league football and after-school sessions, from the grassroots if you like, bringing them into the Academy where they’d train three nights a week and begin playing games from 12-years old upwards.
We were short of staff and short of funds back then which meant you’d be picking the kids up and sorting the kit out, but we had some fantastic kids locally and there was plenty of talent to develop. That was the centre of excellence days for you so when the Academies came in, all of the sudden clubs would realise they’d have to put some funding into it and clubs had to put in up to a million to get them off the ground.
Richard Money came into the club as Academy Manager after that and it really took off, reaching two FA Youth Cup finals which was great to be involved in. However, if you look at the players involved, they all came from the centre of excellence days. It just proves sometimes you can run it on a shoestring if the talent is there.
That was an incredible side of course. Gary McSheffrey, Chris Kirkland and Callum Davenport were all terrific talents but it was a shame we came up against a West Ham side in the final who had the likes of Joe Cole, Jermaine Defoe and Michael Carrick in it. However, even though we didn’t win the cup during that period, it really put the club’s Academy on the map and I think the club is still benefitting from that today.
The club are developing some fantastic players at the moment and that is also part of it for me. When you scout a player and bring them in, you want to see them do well and get a chance in the first-team, and Coventry definitely has a pathway to the first-team at the moment. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the likes of Callum Wilson, Gary McSheffrey and Daniel Sturridge progress into first-team football because you feel as though you’ve made a difference.
Of course, it’s a slightly different challenge now as back when the Academy started, I was trying to find players who could play in the Premier League. Now, we’re looking for a different type of player but that doesn’t make it any less of the challenge with the other clubs in the area. What Coventry now offers a youngster is a real chance at playing first-team football which is the greatest asset a club can have.
Also, part of my role now with the club is to not just look at Academy level but at first-team level as well and that really turned it for me. I was able to do a bit in the past under Iain Dowie and I really enjoyed it.
Actually, one day, I went over to Walsall as Richard Money was in charge and I was a guest. I took the wife over and they recorded a 4-1 win over Huddersfield on the day. I remember it as Frank Sinclair played that day and got sent off. Anyways, after the game, I went down to Richard and said ‘Your left-back isn’t bad’ and Richard turned around and said ‘Don’t say anything to anybody will you!’ Of course, I was going to say something! I came back on the Monday and said to Tim Flowers ‘There’s a boy at Walsall who isn’t bad. Got to go and have a look at him’ and that was Daniel Fox of course who they went and signed.
So that got sorted out and I was going down to Walsall again to watch Scott Dann. I rang Richard up before the game because it looked like the game was going to be called off for the worst conditions I’ve seen. He said ‘What are you doing coming here?! Foxy’s not playing, what do you want now!’ I said Foxy’s was already sorted so he then said ‘oh, you’ve come to see Scott Dann then! I tell you what, give us a million and you can have him now!’
Anyways, I went to the game and I tell you what, Scott Dann was absolutely outstanding in the worst conditions against Bristol Rovers on a terrible pitch. I just got back on the motorway after the game and Richard called me. He said, ‘It’s £3 million now!’ which made me laugh. I reported back on the Monday and told Iain he’s got to sign him and the rest is history.
So, I can’t wait to be back involved at first-team level as well and I’ve already been to plenty of games scouting for the first-team, working with Mark Venus. Overall, I’m just delighted to be back with the club now on the up and hopefully I can pick out a few more talents for the Sky Blues in the future.