Q and A: Wayne Phillips
By Daniel Prince
New signing Wayne Phillips says it is important South Shields develop a winning mentality early next season.
The Jarrow Roofing winger has become the latest player to agree a move to Mariners Park, and the 29-year-old, who lives in the town, is confident the team will be able to cope with the pressure next term.
Below, the former Gateshead, Harrogate Town, Spennymoor Town, Whitley Bay and Blyth Spartans star discusses his move to the Mariners, previews the season ahead and looks back at his career so far.
Q: Wayne, what made you join South Shields?
A: I spoke to (manager) Jon King and he told me all the plans for the club, and that persuaded me to join.
The biggest factor for the club was getting back into the town, and it’s exciting to be a part of.
We want to win promotion next season.
Q: You’re moving to the club after a year at Jarrow Roofing. Was it a tough choice to drop down from Division One?
A: I had one year at Jarrow Roofing, which was quite an average one.
I was struggling with an injury, but we’ve got to the bottom of that now and it is easily treated. We did all right as a team.
The only thing which made me think twice about coming to Shields was the fact I’d be dropping to the Second Division.
However, having seen the plans of the club and then the very good First Division players that have already came in, I’m confident this is the right decision.
Q: What do you make of the plans of the club, and the way it has gone about its business in the early weeks of the summer?
A: I first spoke to the manager about coming here two or three weeks ago.
I had heard whispers about what was happening, and it’s great to see it starting to come to fruition.
Leepaul Scroggins is an excellent midfielder, and the other players that have been brought in will be great additions as well.
I’m sure the lads from last season will want to be staking a claim as well, so there will be plenty of competition.
Q: There are a lot of things going on at the moment, but in terms of football, the first game is on July 11 against Darlington at Mariners Park. How beneficial do you think that game will be?
A: It’s going to be a massive game against Darlington, and it will be good for our fitness.
We might not see a lot of the ball against them, but that could help us in the long run.
No disrespect to the teams in Division Two, but we won’t be facing teams of Darlington’s quality every week, so it will be a good sign of where we are.
Q: What can Shields fans expect to see from you next season?
A: My best position is on the left wing, but I can also play on the right or in the hole.
I’m comfortable on the ball, very direct, and like to express myself in the final third.
I’m probably more of an assister than a goalscorer, but maybe that will change next season.
Q: You live in South Shields – do you have any memories of the club, either as a player or supporter?
A: I scored against Shields on my debut for Spennymoor a couple of seasons ago.
When I was 16 or 17, I used to come here and watch games as well, so I’ve got a few memories here.
Shields used to get good crowds here, and hopefully we can bring that back.
I’ve lived in South Shields for 15 years, so it will be great to now play for the club. I only live five minutes away from the ground.
That’s another positive factor about moving here. For most of my career in non-league, I’ve had to do a lot of travelling, but this is on my doorstep.
Q: What do you think the key will be next season to achieve promotion?
A: We have to get a winning mentality early, and we’ve certainly already got good characters here which will help with that.
We’ve got to get the changing room right, and if we do that, the rest will take care of itself.
Q: You’ve had some great days in your career so far – what have been the highlights from your perspective?
A: I won the Northern League and FA Vase with Spennymoor, and I had a great time there.
There were about 17,000 there for the final at Wembley in 2013, and that was a once in a lifetime opportunity. It was probably the best weekend of my life.
Q: How much pressure do you expect the club to be under next season?
A: Promotion is definitely the immediate aim. First and foremost, that is what we have to achieve.
It will be good to have a bit of pressure on our shoulders. It will be up to us to meet the expectations.
There seems to be a buzz in the town at the moment, so hopefully people will get behind us, and it will be up to us to make sure it stays that way.
As far as I’m concerned, I’m 29 now and have been around the block.
I’ve played in big games in higher leagues, and I need to make that experience count next season.
You can see Wayne and his new team-mates in action 21 times in the league next season at Mariners Park by purchasing a season ticket! For enquiries, please call 0191 537 2633, and for full details, follow the link: Season tickets – 2015-16