Vital Football

Latest Manchester City News

Exclusive: Memoirs Of A Professional Footballer

Exclusive: Memoirs Of A Professional Footballer

Vital Manchester City exclusive: Matthew Robinson has played with and against the very best within the English Football League pyramid and now he tells us his story.

Position: Left Back
Age: 35
Previous Clubs: Southampton, Portsmouth, Reading, Oxford United, Forest Green Rovers and Salisbury City.

In the beginning

I played professional football for 16 years and I still play semi-professionally now. To say the games changed over the years is an understatement and in the years I was involved in the game I have seen a lot of changes.

When you leave school to join your first pro club it is a massive gamble. I don't believe that any young lad actually really thinks about it in that way, but at my wise old age I realise just what a chance you are taking with your life.

You sign apprenticeship forms for a two-year period, and in that time you have to convince the management that you are worthy of the holy grail and that first pro contract. If you look at it in a different way, you are leaving school and moving away from your mates and family - you are giving up the chance of an academic career to have a pop at the big time, and if you look at the stats not many get that chance at that age.

Making the grade

I couldn't imagine what those lads must have felt like when after the two years they were told that they had not made the grade. I do remember that we were all sat in a big room and then one by one we were called into the office to be faced by the manager Ian Branfoot and the youth team manager Dave Merrington to be given the news.

I remember one lad who I was convinced would have been offered a contract coming out in floods of tears and I just thought to myself I haven't done it.

For those two years you are worked to the bone - your emotions are played with and your body and mind are pushed to the limit. Whoever thought that being a young footballer at that time was a cushdy little number were very much mistaken. The average day in the live of a young apprentice was an early morning, wolfing down your breakfast at your digs and bolting it out the door to get the early bus into town. You were supplied with a bus pass free food and accommodation and you were paid the YTS wage which in those days was about £27 a week.


Once you arrived at the ground it was straight into your kit and into the boot-room. As an apprentice you were given two pros to look after and basically bow to there every need. If they asked you to jump you said how high. It was just pot luck who you were given and how awkward they were. I was given Barry Horne, who was an absolute gentleman and who looked after me with friendly advice and was not at all awkward whatsoever. All I had to make sure was that his boots were spotless and slightly damp ready for training. I also had Nicky Banger who was quite young himself and had not long signed pro forms himself, so knew what I was going through.

Some lads weren't as lucky as yours truly and had boots thrown at them and were called every name under the sun if they so much as breathed in the wrong direction.

Finding my feet

I was a quiet lad and just wanted to find my feet. I remember learning in my early days that you had to show the senior players respect or you wouldn't last two minutes. I recall entering into the first team changing room and being told in no uncertain terms I wasn't welcome.'Get the f*** out of here, who the f*** do you think you are? You knock when you come in here'. Needless to say I didn't go in there again uninvited.

Once you had sorted the boots and kit out it was onto the mini bus and the journey to the training ground to lay the kit out for the pros. We were all in charge of different jobs - the balls being cleaned and pumped up to the right pressure, the bibs being cleaned and a pot of tea being made for the staff and players, my least favourite job. I had never as much as boiled a kettle than make a massive pot of tea for 24 senior footballers. The first one I made I took in, put it on the table and prayed that it tasted like tea.

What the f***

I left the room only for Mickey Adams to scream out the door, 'Who the ***k made this tea? Get back in here'. The tea was then shoved back in my hand and I was told to go and make a decent pot. People will probably say that this sounds a bit like bullying, but this was all part of the experience and character building and I know now that those big characters in the side at that time were actually trying to help us to become that bit mentally tougher and that was how they were brought up in their careers.

I soon learned that mental toughness was 70% of the battle and the ability counted for nothing if you didn`t have the mental strength to use it.

Tartan paint

On one of my first days at the club I remember being called into the medical room and looking up and seen a young Alan Shearer and Neil Ruddock lying on the medical beds getting massaged and Shearer saying to me, 'We need a tin of tartan paint to paint the medical room, can you go and sort it out'. Without thinking to much (doh) I went still a little bit star struck and going off thinking where can I get tartan paint from. It must have taken me about 15 minutes of looking around before realising that I had been stitched up.

This was a big part of football and the banter was always flowing. The one thing I can say about being a footballer is that you never really grow up and there was always something to laugh at or a joke to be played.

To read part 2, click here.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Writer:Matthew Robinson
Date:Tuesday March 23 2010
Time: 10:40PM


Brilliant article and great insight. Interesting he sees mental attitude and strength as 70% of the battle. Please keep the articles coming they are great!!
23/03/2010 22:53:00
A superb read!
Johnny Baguette
24/03/2010 17:57:00
Page 1/1
  1. 1

Login to post a comment

Recent Manchester City Articles

Latest Odds: Man City v Tottenham

Don't expect a massive windfall, unless you're intending to place a huge stake with the UK bookmakers for Sunday's Premier League clash between Manchester City and Tottenham.

History Of The 'Poznan'

As a Manchester City supporter my first induction to the so-called 'Poznan' dance (call it what you will) was when City played polish side, Lech Poznan.

The Manchester City Injury Table Updated

Our weekly update looking at the injury table and also comparing with all our competitors in the Premier League.

(Video) This Is What It Means Supporting City

Supporting Manchester City, in fact, supporting any football club brings the best and worst in any human's emotion.

Archived VMC Articles

VMC articles from

Site Journalists

Johnny Baguette

Current Poll (see more polls)

How many trophies will MCFC win this season?
Suggested By: Tudor
Premier League11%
Champions League1%
League Cup19%
FA Cup1%
Two of the above11%
Three of the above1%
All four7%
City will not win anything this season49%
ScoopDragon Premier League Network Sites

League Table

# Team P W D L Pts. GD
1 Leicester City 25 15 8 2 53 20
2 Spurs 25 13 9 3 48 26
3 Arsenal 25 14 6 5 48 17
4 Man City 25 14 5 6 47 21
5 Man Utd 25 11 8 6 41 10
6 West Ham 25 10 9 6 39 9
7 Southampton 25 10 7 8 37 9
8 Everton 25 8 11 6 35 12
9 Liverpool 25 9 8 8 35 -4
10 Watford 25 9 6 10 33 0
11 Stoke 25 9 6 10 33 -7
12 Crystal Palace 25 9 5 11 32 -4
13 Chelsea 25 7 9 9 30 -2
14 WBA 25 7 8 10 29 -9
15 AFC Bournemouth 25 7 7 11 28 -12
16 Swansea 25 6 9 10 27 -9
17 Newcastle 25 6 6 13 24 -18
18 Norwich 25 6 5 14 23 -20
19 Sunderland 25 5 5 15 20 -19
20 Aston Villa 25 3 7 15 16 -20
Latest F1 News
Latest Vital Boxing News

Manchester City Fixtures (view all)

Feb 14 2016 4:15PM : Tottenham Hotspur (H)
Barclays Premier League
Feb 20 2016 3:00PM : Chelsea (a)
FA Cup
Feb 28 2016 12:00PM : Newcastle United (a)
Barclays Premier League
Feb 28 2016 4:30PM : Liverpool (a)
Capital One Cup
Mar 2 2016 8:00PM : Liverpool (a)
Barclays Premier League
Mar 5 2016 3:00PM : Aston Villa (H)
Barclays Premier League

Recent Manchester City Results (view all)

Vital Members League Table

2.Buzz Lightyear227
4.Johnny Baguette144
10.Colin Is The King20