Jon Wordsnop: Chester, York and the brilliance of Benito Carbone

You are currently in a third spell at Chester FC. How are you enjoying being back at the club and how would you describe the club?

A great question. I am really enjoying my time back at Chester FC. I am indeed in my third spell back at the club and each time I have been here I have had a different experience. It has been interesting and I am looking forward to next season because our current season was cut short this year. We have a great group of chaps and a great management duo.

You played for a well-known and famous club in York City. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any highlights or special memories?

Yes, I love York City and the manager at the time was Gary Mills who I believe is still the youngest player in history to win the European Cup with Nottingham Forest under Brian Clough and listening to his stories were just absolutely mind boggling but I loved Gary and his football ethos and the way that he treated the lads. The York City fans were fantastic and I remember the gaffer would fine me two pounds if I kicked the ball past the halfway line.

Unfortunately the fans did not quite to Gary Mills and he got the chop and a new manager came in and wanted all his own players and I ended up getting the chop having not even had a training session or playing a game for York City under the new manager which was quite disappointing but York City are a great club and they will be again in future. The current chairman Jason McGill has invested heavily in the club and he will continue to do so and hats off to him.

You also played one season for Alfreton Town. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any special memories or highlights?

Another good question! When I was originally at Bradford City where I had a really enjoyable time and I went through a few managers and it was a big for me being raised in Bradford and playing for the club and there was a manager called Nicky Law who stepped into the managers job having come from Chesterfield FC and although Nicky is a good manager and great guy but it was a big step up too quickly to inherit players such as Benito Carbone, Dan Petrescu, Stan Collymore, Stuart McCall and David Wetherall who were quite big names and his job was to cut the budget and he cut me at Bradford City even though I was a young lad on absolute peanuts coming through the ranks and had been traveling with the first team and making all the right noises and doing well at the time.

“Bradford City – Valley Parade, Bradford” by Bradford Timeline is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

He found himself as the manager of Alfreton Town and he approached me to sign for the club and I was reluctant at first and I had an unbelievable season in which I was made captain and I was also voted players player of the year and I was offered a new deal and when the end of the season come and if you do well you known that there are opportunities down the line and a few clubs came in such as Wrexham FC, Chester FC, Barnet FC and Chesterfield FC.

I just thought that Nicky Law never did me any favours I am going to look after number one and I enjoyed playing for Alfreton Town and we missed out on promotion and again we had a great chairman in Wayne Bradway has also invested well for the club in the squad and in the ground particularly and I have goos memories of my time at the club.

You have accrued good experience at different clubs at different levels of the football pyramid in England. Could you say who are among the best players you have played alongside so far in your career?

Credit: Classic Football Shirts

Without question it is Benito Carbone. That guy was light years ahead and he was incredible. He used to stay behind for hours after training just to hit free kicks and he would do it on a matchday as well. He was just such a talent and he will always stand out for me due to his work ethic and even how he would come to training, he would come to training in a three piece suit and he was a nice man.

He would turn up to training even single day in a three piece suit and he would sit right at the front of the bus and although he did socialize in a nice way he did not want to get involved in any antics or clowning around he was a very serious man and a very serious player he wanted to do the best for himself and his family.

I can imagine in your position as a goalkeeper that you have come up against many difficult opponents through the years. Could you say which opponents have stood out for you in terms of talent and ability?

Yes, One guy in particular that I played with at Alfreton Town and against and I hated playing against him was a chap called John Akinde. He was six foot six and 18 stone of pure muscle and could probably run the 100 meters in about eleven seconds and I always found him an absolute handful.

He looks like the scariest man alive but he is the softest and most gentle person you could ever meet and I remember he scored a hattrick against me. John Parkinson was a player who had a very high football IQ and was someone who knew how to use his body hence why he played as many games as he did and he could score goals and he always ended up scoring past me and he was always a handful, especially at corners.

Finally Jon. Could you say who are the coaches and managers who meant a lot to you and played a key role in your development as a professional footballer?

When I was at Bradford City I remember Paul Jewell and I was young at the time and Paul Jewel is a good manager but he was bloody aggressive but he managed to get the best out of his players and I have seen him have players in tears.

I remember he had Robbie Blake in tears at half-time and then Robbie came out and scored four goals in the second half and we won 4-3 so he knew what he was doing but the way he went about it was new to me as a youngster. Garry Mills was great in the way he went about his business and his old school mentality and the way that he fathered all the players and he knew how to treat young players and respect and treat the senior players and he was one of my favourite managers to work under even though it was such a short period of time and I am shocked that he has not got a job at the moment.

Credit: Chester FC

I am currently working with Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley and they were at Salford City FC together and they have got a completely different style and I am enjoying working with them. I believe that they do not get the credit that they deserve, they are very tactical and very aware of football and what is going on and they are also aware of how to get the best out of their lads and they are a joint management duo that bounce off each other well.

I step in as player coach and they see me as more of an assistant and a new set of eyes and the dynamics that we have a Chester FC at the moment are fantastic and if I was a betting man I would be putting money on them guys to go and do bigger and better things in their football journey.

FEATURE PHOTOGRAPH: Chester FC

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