John Askey

John Askey - Mr High Intensity

John Askey and York City kindly invited York City South members to meet the manager on the eve of the Dagenham FA Trophy game played on March 12th 2022.

After braving heavy M25 rush hour traffic, we spent over an hour in the company of John Askey, Kingsley James and kit man Tony Brown.

York City South would like to thank Dan and Lisa at the club for making the arrangements and for John, Kingsley and Tony for giving up well over an hour of their time to talk to us.

Curzon

Askey had been invited to York City to assist Steve Watson. He watched the game at Leamington in November 2021 and was involved for the next game, a draw at Curzon.

After that game, he had a drink with Steve Watson and there was no hint of was about to happen. Later that night, Jason McGill phoned to tell him that Steve Watson had left the club and offered him the position of interim manager. After speaking with Steve Watson, he accepted the position.

High Intensity

On his arrival, Askey felt there was an air of lethargy around the club, players were in their comfort zone and there was a lack of intensity about training and matches. Kingsley James noted how in their early days at the club, the squad struggled to complete some of the high intensity drills that were put on. The words "high intensity" were oft repeated during this discussion.

The mantra being that to train at a high intensity would improve a players' first touch and then to play at a high intensity which in turn would put the opposition under more pressure.

The importance of work rate and denying the opposition time on the ball being keys to success.

Askey noted how when watching football, top teams showed the same the high intensity in the last minute of a game as they did in the first minute.

At training sessions, the players regularly practice penalties. Askey would tell his players to decide where they would put the ball in a match situation, and to take the same penalty 3 times in a row, making each player sure of their touch, especially as the keeper knew where the ball was going.

Askey felt a settled, well drilled team was important and felt players could manage 2 games week but 3 games a week would be too much. He noted that he felt the high intensity shown at AFC Fylde was offset by a more low key, tired performance 4 days later at Hereford as travelling does take a lot out of the players.

Wyscout

When John Askey arrived, City did not have any effective scouting set up. He signed City up to Wyscout, the popular scouting software used by the many professional clubs. It has proved invaluable, allowing City to watch any game played in England, to view players and scout upcoming opposition teams and players. Equally, it allows City to analyse their own performances.

It is a time saver for Askey who is regularly contacted about 2 or 3 available players every day. In the case of Maxim Kouogun, an initial approach from agent lead to a check on Wyscout and then with Harrogate contacts (one of Kouogun's recent clubs), the signs were promising so a week long trial was arranged.

For the Darlington game (3 days before our meeting), Wsyscout had identified a weakness in Darlington's centre backs. City successfully exploited that weakness and a City contact was able to confirm exactly City's findings after the game.

As City want to maximise their usage of Wyscout, the club may be on the look out for a performance analyst to help, indeed Askey noted how an intern had joined the party for the Dagenham trip to provide extra analysis support. (I seem to recall that in October 2016 when Gary Mills returned, one of the first things he did was to release City's performance analyst on the basis of wanting to maximise his playing budget, indeed, his belief was to worry about ourselves and not the opposition, a true Brian Clough disciple - Ed).

Squad Players

Whilst acknowledging the lack of game time for squad players, he tries to find appropriate loan moves for them but doesn't believe there is a feasible league of sufficient quality for a City reserve side.

In the case of Sam Fielding and Harrison Hopper, he felt that they weren't the sort players he needed at City at the time and that they could do better elsewhere. (... no doubt freeing up budget for the new players he wanted - Ed).

Academy

City's recently announced extended youth programme is expected to be education focused, an extension on the existing scholarship programme. It was noted how other clubs around City's level run such schemes with Macclesfield annually generating over a million pounds for the club with some of their scholars travelling from abroad.

Given football's EPPP setup, any promising youngster is signed up by a big club and Football League status is needed to drive a successful academy.

Askey noted how lower league side such as Rochdale and Accrington had flourished in recent seasons due to their successful youth policies.

Kingsley James

Kingsley James told us how he'd nearly signed from City on 3 occasions including during the Gary Mills' eras and one potential loan move fell through.

James noted how he'd got married on the day before his appearance in the 2016 FA Trophy Final, the game ended in victory for his FC Halifax side but their season ended in relegation from the National League. Given relegation, celebrations after Wembley were muted. The same fate befell City a season later when James was a member of Macclesfield's side that lost to City in the FA Trophy Final, on the day of his first wedding anniversary (he'd got married on the day before the 2016 final).

Tony Brown

Tony Brown revealed City had brought 2 sets of kits for the Dagenham game, it appears the traditional method of checking with the opposition and referee before a game to avoid a colour clash isn't so prevalent nowadays, or at least not in FA organised competitions.

A big Macclesfield fan, he'd had a long association with the club but felt the club struggled badly with the off field transition from non league to the Football League and for a time fell out of love with football.

In February 2004, Askey rang Tony and invited him for an evening fish and chip supper in York. After taking in City play Lincoln, their take away was Jon Parkin.

John Askey's Early Days

As a boy, John Askey would watch a game most weekend with his Dad, mainly Stoke and Port Vale, a Stoke fan his favourite player was Denis Smith.

His Dad, Colin was a professional footballer who played for many years with Port Vale and starred as a right winger in their 1954 side that reached the FA Cup Semi Final and won the Division 3 North title. Books and other sources suggest he might have been a winger in the Gary Ford mould.

Apparently, like City a year later, Vale went out to a dubious refereeing decision. Again, like City's 1955 Happy Wanderers, the Valiants were local celebrities and Colin Askey is the last surviving member of that side.

Along The Way

  • Askey felt he had the right dynamic with Kingsley James, someone who is much closer to the players' ages and has Yorkshire roots
  • City had travelled down and had a training session at Barnet's ground earlier in the day. Askey noted that Football League clubs were becoming increasingly reluctant to offer their facilities to travelling teams, mainly down to wanting to protect their pitches. Meanwhile, City had enjoyed a recent training session at Lilleshall
  • Askey's favourite ground is Villa Park, it still has the feel of an old, traditional stadium
  • Confirmed City's latest loan signing who will be available for the next league game and indicated he'd like to add another 2 or 3 players, the right players, to the squad before transfer deadline day
  • Askey has a love of football history, he took more interest and showed more knowledge about City's past than any other manager YCS has spoken to
  • Askey named Paul Johnson, City's short lived late 80s left back as his best mate in football whilst James bestowed the same accolade on John McCombe
  • Askey reported that the camera equipment that YCS bought for the club in May 2019 is still in use, largely by the youth team as was originally intended
  • Askey has a desire to help to bring all elements of the club together and improve fan engagement
  • As the evening ended, the players came into the dining room for their evening meal. Mitch Hancox took centre stage to perform his initiation, giving a word perfect rendition of Queen's "We Will Rock You", proving he's a good a singer as he is a footballer.

Whilst, once again with John Askey's arrival, City didn't see the much wanted immediate new manager bounce, rather than that ephemeral lift, his methods are working, the smile is back on the supporters' faces (and the players judging by the post Dagenham celebrations and smiles). We're playing like a proper team and showing much improved form. Long may it continue.