With months of lockdown nearly behind us and a rescheduled FA Vase tie away at Guildford City to look forward to in April, we touched base with WHFC manager Scott Harris to gather his reflections and thoughts on the return of football.
Tom Bradbury: Good to talk to you again Scott. How have the last few months been for you?
Scott Harris: Hi Tom. These last few months have certainly felt different to the ‘original’ versions of lockdown. I’m pretty sure the vast majority of people I’ve spoken to have felt similarly. All of a sudden, everybody knew someone who was in hospital, or someone who was suffering with the virus. It’s all felt so much more serious this time. And for that reason, I have to admit, football was finding its way, slowly but surely, to the back of my mind.
There was a sense of resignation that we were done. And I believe everyone was at peace with that, despite it meaning back-to-back seasons of unfulfilled promise at our club.
Thankfully, more and more people we all know are now vaccinated and the end (dare I say?) seems to be in sight now…
TB: I think everyone shares the hope that the light at the end of the tunnel is within reach now and we can get the world and football back to normal permanently. With all this time to reflect, what has been on your mind?
SH: To be honest, the main thing I’ve had in my mind for the most part has been getting to the next day! Just chalking them off, trying to keep myself and my daughter occupied and entertained.
I’ve tried not to become completely consumed by the news every day concerning what’s going on, and I have watched a ton of sports and listened to a lot of podcasts.
I have had the home schooling to keep me busy enough though, so don’t worry about me wasting away here!
TB: It sounds like you’ve managed to keep busy then! It definitely helps that some professional sport has continued as a form of escapism, albeit without crowds in most circumstances.
Of course, we recently found out that the FA Vase is continuing in April. With our Third Round tie away to Guildford City coming up, how are you feeling about it?
SH: It was a surprise to hear that this wasn’t going to be taken away from us. From the start, we had always treated this competition like it was a bonus and a one in a million shot at something. You can now take that x100.
As for the actual game itself, it’s very much going into the unknown. Guildford lost their manager in the week building up to our December scheduled game, and with that, always comes some turnover of players.
They now have a new manager in place, who has a good reputation, and with the added detail of the game being played away and behind closed doors, it’s really one of those occasions where all you can do is make sure you are prepared for anything.
I have great confidence in what we do and what we have here. Let’s make sure that Guildford will have to play well to beat us.
TB: It does feel like a lifetime ago that the team was preparing for the original fixture. What is the morale like with the players now knowing that this game is coming up?
SH: The players all took the news of this chance at the FA Vase how you would expect them to. They’re all really excited to be able to play football again, let alone having a carrot dangling like this.
Fortunately, this confirmation of the dates has given us all a target to aim towards with fitness, and I know the boys will not be found wanting when it comes to this. They all know it’s too much of an opportunity to let slip, just because we couldn’t be bothered to get ourselves out there and prepare. It’s not like there’s much else to do right now!
TB: Apart from Warzone of course, which I hear is a hit with some of the lads! Jokes aside, it feels that the club has come a long way despite the precarious circumstances. On reflection, what has been your proudest moment so far as Walton & Hersham manager?
SH: I would have to say – and I suppose it’s pretty topical – our performance away at Steyning Town in the Vase. That was also a return to play, post lockdown – coming off the sofa with only one training session prior to the game!
The way the boys played that day was almost surgical at times and was the closest thing to what myself and Bill envision and want to see.
We had a good following down there, and I think everyone involved was quite proud of how that day went.
TB: Having spoken to some of the fans that made the trip that day, I think they would definitely agree! It’s a big shame that the FA has said that the Vase will be played behind closed doors until the final. Have you got a message for our supporters in their absence?
SH: My message would be that all the players and staff have loved seeing the numbers grow as we’ve gone along since the start, and that we truly hope we can make a little miracle happen and somehow get them a day out at Wembley. Up The Swans!