By Jason McKeown
Further to the news we reported on Monday that Scott Brown was on the verge of leaving Bradford City for St. Johnstone, Width of a Post was able to catch up with the 18-year-old about why he has chosen to leave Valley Parade.
WOAP: So I understand you are signing for St. Johnstone. How has this move come about?
SB: I came back down to Bradford for pre-season training following the summer break. I hadn’t yet signed the contract that we’d agreed in May because I just wanted to see how things went. During the first week (Jason) Kennedy and (Nathan) Doyle signed, and then at the end of the week the manager took me into his office and said ‘Look I’m going to be straight with you, you are going to be fifth choice midfielder’.
He said that I had been doing really well, but that he didn’t think it was fair on me to stay at Bradford and hardly play. And at my age I need to be playing games.
WOAP: So was it your decision to leave?
SB: The contract was still there for me to sign, and he said to me ‘you can sign it if you want, or you can go on trial elsewhere’. So I spoke to my agent about it, had a think over the weekend and then came back on Monday and said to the gaffer ‘I’m going to train this week just to keep myself ticking over, but I am going to look elsewhere’. It was good of Bradford to let me still train.
I had a trial with St. Johnstone on the Thursday, played a game on the Friday and I have been training with them since.
WOAP: Did you have offers from other clubs?
SB: I had an offer from Partick Thistle to go on trial there as well, but I sort of leapt at the first opportunity and St. Johnstone is a good opportunity for me. It’s nearer my home, and it’s in the SPL. They also showed a bit more keenness to take me on. I think I am due to sign the contract on Monday. St. Johnstone have just been waiting for the paperwork from Bradford.
WOAP: How do you feel about leaving Bradford City?
SB: Not the happiest, but these things happen in football, don’t they? It’s just best to get your head down and move on. I have learned a massive amount at Bradford since I signed two years ago. I played three first team games last season. I was training with the first team every day, which got me a lot sharper.
Obviously it is sad leaving the club because they gave me a chance. I will always be grateful to Bradford City for everything they did for me.
WOAP: It seems a lot longer than two years since you signed for City in July 2011, so much has happened. How big a move was it for you?
SB: It was massive. Moving away from home was a big deal. I remember on the Friday night that I left home crying my eyes out because I just didn’t know what to expect from living on my own. I’ve learned so much over the last two years.
WOAP: Peter Jackson said you were the best 16-year-old he’d seen for years. How do you feel his departure affected your first team hopes?
SB: It did have an effect because I got on really well with Peter Jackson. But obviously Phil Parkinson came in and had different views. He saw us near the bottom of the table and the priority being to stay up. So I can’t really blame him for not giving me a chance at first. If you asked yourself the question: would you throw a 16-year-old into a relegation battle? The answer is clearly no.
WOAP: How important was Archie Christie to you and, when he left, what was the impact on you and the Development Squad?
SB: That had more to do with out of football. Archie used to come round and see us an awful lot and he was someone who was always there for me when I needed someone. The Development Squad did go as well, but luckily I was still young enough to play in the youth team, so I was still getting games.
WOAP: Going into the 2012/13 season, you were involved as unused sub on a few occasions and then finally made your debut at Northampton in the FA Cup, how did that feel?
SB: It was really good. A proud day. All the hard work I had put in had been worth it. I felt like I played pretty well that day. It was a massive learning curve for me. In the cup replay against Northampton (Scott’s second appearance) I felt like I didn’t play as well and I took it to heart to be honest. I can’t thank the other lads who played that night enough, because they helped me through it.
I learned more from the second game, having a more difficult experience, than I did the first game where it went well. I really wanted to do well and show I was capable of playing in the first team.
Fortunately I was able to bounce back in the (FA Cup second round replay) Brentford game. I played pretty well and I think I got man of the match in the paper. That sort of stuff helps you along the way. I feel that my appearances in the first team have made me a tougher person.
WOAP: It must have been difficult sitting out of all the achievements the first team went through during the second half of the season…
SB: To be honest that has probably being my biggest downfall – the success of the team. Obviously I wanted to see the lads doing well, but I also knew that as much as I tried I wasn’t going to get into a winning team.
The lads did really well last season to get themselves up, but from a personal point of view I sometimes ask myself, had Bradford stayed in League Two, would this year have been a lot different? Would players like Doyle have stayed? These are high quality players, and if a League One or a Championship club had have come in for them would they really have stayed in League Two? Whereas with moving up a league, you can keep quality players like Doyle. And that’s been the downfall of me.
Obviously when I was watching on at Wembley you wanted to be out there playing. That’s only natural and it’s probably the same as a fan. With the games we had, I would have loved to have been out there, but it’s just one of those things.
Sometimes I just had to take a step back and say to myself ‘look you’re only 17, 18’. I wasn’t expecting to play, in fact I wasn’t even expecting to play three times last season.
WOAP: Do you feel you have been given a fair opportunity by the club?
SB: Yes and no, but definitely more yes to be honest with you. I can’t thank the gaffer enough for giving me the opportunity to play three games. But obviously it is frustrating when a lot of the time I was the 19th man travelling (to away games) – it’s the most frustrating bit in football – and you get to the game and put your stuff on and then you realise that you’re not on the bench.
But overall I would say that I was given a fair crack of the whip by Bradford. Being an 18-year-old you don’t really expect to play many league games. The only game I was disappointed not to be involved in was the final one at Cheltenham, when we had nothing to play for. The gaffer still played a pretty strong side. During the week I had been expecting to play. Me, Louis Swain and Jack Stockdill travelled with the team, but none of us even made the bench.
WOAP: What’s your relationship with Phil Parkinson being like?
SB: Really, really good actually. I’m very thankful, and I believe that he was very fair to me at the start of this pre-season by making it clear I was fifth choice midfielder and could leave if I wanted, rather than allowing me to waste another year not developing. It was hard enough last season because I was missing playing games on a Saturday for the youth team, as I travelling with the first team as the 19th man. But that was down to the team’s success. It wasn’t him being horrible or anything. He saw me as part of the squad and I was thankful for that.
He’s allowed me to go and hopefully I can get some games and progress as a footballer, rather than staying around as fifth choice. I’d have just been waiting around for one or two injuries to get my chance. I’d rather be an automatic choice as opposed to fifth choice.
The gaffer has been really good to me. Obviously last season he gave me a chance and I’m thankful for that.
WOAP: You’re moving to a club who had a great result in Europe on Thursday and could be playing in the Europa League. What are your targets for St. Johnstone?
SB: The manager thinks I can make 15 appearances this season, so I’m hoping to achieve that. Hopefully by the end of the season I am pushing for the first team and will be more regularly involved the season after. I will take each game as it comes really. I will try my best to take the opportunities I get.
We have an under 20s team up here as well, which means I will have a game every Wednesday if I am not playing for the first team on the Saturday. So at least I’ve got a guaranteed game every week to maintain my fitness and develop.
Back at Bradford the reserve team has now gone so I wouldn’t have had that opportunity to play as often if I had stayed. Even if I went out on loan, I still think Parkinson would have seen me as fifth choice. Which I can’t really blame him for, because he has four experienced players in front of me. Gary Jones had been there and done it, Doyle has obviously played a higher level, Jason Kennedy did really well last season and Ricky Ravenhill has plenty of experience and is a good player.
There’s no doubting that I should have been fifth choice. I’d probably agree with it if I am being completely truthful with myself. Hopefully I play some games this season for St. Johnstone and we will see how it goes.
Scott was keen to wish the Bradford City players good luck for the coming season. Width of a Post would like to thank Scott for his time and wishes him all the best at St. Johnstone.