ONE of Eastbourne’s best known sporting personalities over the last half-century has retired after 28 highly productive years as a scout with Brighton & Hove Albion.
Roy Young, who started his football career in the youth teams of Eastbourne United, made the grade as a professional football with Hartlepool United and eventually became popular at the Oval as a menacing right winger in the legendary Eastbourne United team of the sixties. He played at the Oval under Gordon Jago who went on to become a big managerial name in American soccer.
But while Roy was a popular and dynamic player on the pitch, it was as a scout and coach that has seen success after success pass through his hands. In fact, young lads who have succeeeded under him read like a local players’ Who’s Who.
Led by Gareth Barry, now starring for Premiership champions Manchester City, they include Eastbourne’s first ever Premiership player John Piercy, Stuart Myall, Danny Simmonds, Duncan McArthur, Chris McPhee, Dean Hammond, Joel Lynch, Lee Carey, Chris Winterton, Graham Overton, Steve Cook, Bayern Fenwick (Crystal Palace), James Norwood (Exeter) and Nicky Bull (Wycombe).
But despite his outstanding success as a scout and a coach, it was being involved in the thick of the action of the park that gave Roy his greatest satisfaction.”You can’t beat being a player,” he said. recalling his time in the game. “The camaraderie in the dressing-room, the travelling, the games, it was all great fun.
“Then I got into coaching which was a natural progression. But I also got a great deal of satisfaction out of scouting, especially the feedback you get when a boy succeeds.
“People also recognise you when you’ve been in the game this long and it’s nice when parents thank you for what you have done over the years.”
Roy admits he will miss his regular contact with Brighton. “If I was 30 years younger I would be looking for a full-time position - no question.”
Although the world is a lot different now than when Roy took his first tentative steps in the scouting world, he firmly believes that the role of the scout has not changed a lot over the years.
“You are still looking for the same things,” he insists.
“You are looking for the player’s first touch and their awareness. Most scouts will tell you that you can go to a game and after 10 minutes you can go away again - if you are looking at a specific boy you can tell straight away if he has got what you are looking for.
“What has changed though is the paperwork. For 27 years Martin Hinshelwood was my boss and he would pick up the phone and say “look at this player” or “watch this school game.”
“I would then phone him at the end of the week and we would bring in a player on trial. Now you have to write a report on a player and upload it to a computer. At my age I don’t even have a computer.”
But while Roy looks back with fond memories of those 28 years with Brighton, he is far from being lost to the game. Most days of the week he is a voluntary worker at Priory Lane with his heart and sole in the fortunes of Eastbourne Borough.
On match days he is the cheery face just inside the main gate distributing programmes. “I just do what needs to be done,” says Roy. “I have great memories of Brighton and I have come into contact with many lovely people over the years. But continuing to be involved with such a progressive club as Borough is just great.”
Hopefully Borough will continue to enjoy the benefits of Roy’s soccer expertise and relentless enthusisam for the game of football for many years to come.