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Chemistry Lesson

LEIGH Robinson has waited a long time to fulfil one of his earliest managerial desires – to take responsibility for Tiverton Town’s fortunes.

After being installed at the Ian Moorcroft Stadium this week, the 42-year-old with a wealth of experience that belies his relatively tender years revealed that his first steps as a manager were influenced by the person into whose shoes he has now stepped.

“When I first started managing, in 2007-08, at Wellington in the Western League, Tiverton were a really big club, doing really well,” he remembers. “They had big, big crowds, and I aspired to that. Martyn Rogers was the manager; I was only 26, and I aspired to be as good as Martyn.

“I really looked up to Martyn at that point and I’ve always admired Tiverton from afar – and I’ve had plenty of ding-dong battles with them over the years. I’ve really loved the ground – it’s got that classic non-league feel to it.

“I’m really pleased to be here and excited to get started.”

Those ding-dong battles were with Taunton, with whom he gained a deservedly glowing reputation over six and a half years, leading the club to the National League South via some truly memorable days, matches and seasons and establishing them as a real non-league force in the South West.

He said: “When I first went to Taunton, Martyn helped me as assistant manager for a couple of years and was a brilliant help to me as young manager at that point. He then came back here and we became rivals for a couple of seasons or so – sometimes he got the better of me; sometimes I got the better of him, but I never didn’t look forward to coming here and I’m delighted to be in the position that I’m in now.”

Although Leigh has enjoyed a memorable career which has topped up his experience in various ways since leaving the Peacocks, it is to those early years that he is now primarily looking, seeing plenty of similarities between Taunton then and Tiverton now.

“The club should absolutely be pushing for National League South,” he said. “You look at what Taunton have done. I was lucky enough to set a lot of those wheels in motion and they have done fantastically well to keep improving since. The reason they have been able to do that is stability off the pitch, and they have done very well commercially. Hand in hand, that goes with the football side of the things.

“The Committee here have been honest and, financially, they are not in the place they want be right now, but I have got every faith they are going to get it there.

“We’ll have to consolidate for a couple of seasons and then move it forward. I’ve learnt, over the years, that you just can’t live in the moment and the game you are seeing – it’s the bigger picture that things have got to be moving forward. You’ll win games and you’ll play really well and lose games but you can’t get caught up in that. As a manager, you’ve got to step back and ask if things are improving in the bigger picture – if they are, you’ll get there step by step. That’s what Taunton have done and that’s what we’ve got to aspire to do, as well.

“Whilst the club has got something amazing to sell to players in terms of prestige of the club, the facilities and a lovely stadium to play in, sometimes it comes down to what you can pay. I am fully aware of the nuances of non-league football and how the slightest thing can throw a team off. It’s all about getting the chemistry right behind the scenes, getting the chemistry right in the dressing-room, and, if you can do that, generally good things happen on the pitch.”

The Yellow and Black Army could do with some good things happening in the short term, having slipped into the Southern Premier South Division relegation zone, leading to fears among some that the rest of the campaign is going to be a scrap to stay up. Leigh does not share those fears.

“I don’t want to set any aims or mention survival, purely because there is so much football to play,” he said. “I want to get in, see what players we’ve got, what attributes they’ve got, how we can we play in the first few weeks, what personnel can we bring in for the first few weeks, give it a month, four or five games, to see where we are.

“We have to acknowledge the size of the challenge here but it doesn’t faze me because I’ve been there, done that.

“Jamie [Richards], River [Allen] and Niall [Thompson] were with me at Truro and I’m happy that they are here now because they are really good lads and good players at this level; there are a few that I’ve managed against or seen play; and a few that are totally new. I’m looking forward to getting started with them and finding out what everyone can do.”

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Adrian C
Adrian C

Great comments, sound approach. I’ve looked back and have heard some of Leigh’s post match interviews from his Taunton years. Very coherent, knows what he wants type of guy. I’m confident we have the right man for the job 👍

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