Gary Simpson? Who you ask? But his talent stretches to Blackpool (Taylor Fletcher), Ipswich Town (Hewitt) Peterborough (McLean, Mackail-Smith) and Brighton. Indeed it spans the top five Leagues. Peterborough United and Macclesfield are still reaping the rewards of Gary Simpson’s eye for talent spotting, but it is his not so Posh return to grass roots with Parkgate that illustrates his ability to do it again and again.
Thank you for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs
The quiet man in the partnership with Keith Alexander, Gary’s love of the game, judgement and ability to work with what he has got, is as touching as his deep and genuine love for the way the game should truly be played, coached and managed. You need fresh mud in your studs and a desire to do the miles, give the smiles and to convert young lads by teaching and gently preaching. Not only can Simmo turn water into rapidly maturing wine, but Sheffield’s softly spoken son has what is really needed in the current harsh environment – he can turn a quid into seven, which with add-ons can even exceed a bakers dozen. At Parkgate he has a few more in the oven.
Gary learned to take rejection at Stoke before going on to be a legend at Boston as a player. He finished at Gainsborough and was eager to take his coaching badges. Initially the managership mantel was thrust upon him at Gainsborough Trinity whilst still a player, then Lincoln and Macclesfield Town. Simmo was caretaker at the Imps and Silkmen, before getting the job full-time at Macc, filling the blues shoes vacated by legend, mate and mentor Keith. Gary’s eleven match spell at the Imps saw five wins, four draws and two defeats. His 45% success rate, is something they would dearly love now, not to mention the talent spotting that turns pennies into pounds and truly astounds.
Peterborough have made millions from selling players he spotted and coached, as well as no doubt benefiting from two more of his Macc prodigal sons this season, having signed Sinclair and Brisley. Macc also received fees for Hewitt (Ipswich), Donnelly (Rochdale), Daniel and Tomlinson, that paved the way for new silkmen supremo and successor King’s spending splurge.
Much was made of Gary’s sacking from Macc. Having been forced to sell seven in the window, he then had 12 injured from January onwards. A win at local rivals and comparable giants,Port Vale, heralding play-off aspirations, would turn to dust thanks to a 16 match winless run. Mike Rance and Andy Scott were ‘truly gutted’ to see him go, although the politics at Macc, especially after the latter top two’s departure, is set to run a while yet.
But to the sunny climbs of Parkgate, the Steelmen of Rotherham. With a stand of 300 and a capacity of 1,000, they are a side on the rise, despite crowds of just a hundred or so. The facilities are good with Rotherham United electing to train there in exchange for some vital cash. The Steelmen play at level 9 of the football pyramid in the Baris North Counties East Football League Premier Division along with Lincoln Moorlands Railway, Worksop and Scarborough. Simmo’s lad’s can go top tonight if they beat 17th placed Pickering. Then there is a home clash against the League’s big spenders Staveley Miners Welfare at the weekend.
Gary has always been keen to train sides, to put something back at youth and amateur level. he is certainly not doing this for the money. Having no goalkeeper available, cost them progression in the FA Cup (bless’em) and their only defeat of the season. A win in the FA Vase at Worsbrough Bridge Athletic has brought in the petrol money for a few more away trips yet. Just 75 witnessed it, as Nathan Forbes-Swindells settled things in the fifth minute. That could be a costly shirt one day, although if the strikers had finished it could easily have been ten. Make that eleven with one brave defender left to ‘count them’. The talent spotting never fails with one tender 18 year-old in particular set for a very bright future indeed. Gary has also charmed in some real quality to form the U-19’s who will provide the future conveyor belt that has always been so central to his coaching concept and character. With Tommy Docherty turning up for Dinner on 4th October to swell the campaign war chest, it is surely worth the entry for some minted wisdom, rumour and humour.