What’s it like being coached by Ian Holloway? For Hyundai A-League star David Carney, it gave him some extraordinary memories from a rollercoaster season with Blackpool in the English Premier League.
Holloway, for those unaware, is one of the greatest characters you’ll ever find in sport.
His press conferences are legendary. His take on life and football often beautifully, and comedically, explained in his trademark Bristolian twang.
Here’s just one example of an “Ollieism”. “I love Blackpool. We’re very similar. We both look better in the dark.”
And this: “I don’t see the problem with footballers taking their shirts off after scoring a goal. They enjoy it and the young ladies enjoy it, too. Of course they’d have to go and watch another game because my lads are ugly as sin.”
After an exhilarating play-off win over Cardiff at Wembley, Blackpool were famously promoted from the Championship to the EPL in 2010.
With Charlie Adam, DJ Campbell and Brett Ormerod leading the way, it was the fairytale most neutrals were drawn to in season 2010/11 of the English Premier League.
And an Aussie player was part of this Holloway EPL fairytale.
Newcastle Jets winger Carney was signed by Holloway late in the August transfer window on a one-year deal from Dutch club FC Twente.
The Bloomfield Road club promptly took their fans and growing number of neutrals on a rollercoaster ride in the Premiership.
Blackpool beat Wigan 4-0 on the opening day and went on to down Liverpool twice during the season.
The fans loved it. Holloway’s pressas were must-see. They played daring football. But Blackpool’s luck eventually ran out and they were relegated.
But ask Carney, who played 11 times in the Premiership for the Tangerines, and he only has warm – and funny – memories of the man himself, as the now 30-year-old Newcastle Jets winger recalled.
“Ian Holloway was a character. Don’t get me wrong, he had his moments when he was switched on but he was more about people, and how people felt," Carney recalled.
“And he had that character that you just wanted to live and die for. He was so funny but was also a very warm-hearted guy.
“He’s got two deaf children, girls, and so he mentioned them a lot in speeches. He didn’t want to take football too serious in ways where you got nervous. He made you feel gifted to have this sort of life.
“The way he talked, his emotions, but also his motivational talks he was a very smart man. He wasn’t just only a character."
Relaxing players before big games is an art, though Holloway sometimes flicked the switch to comedy for brilliant effect.
“But some of the things he’d do... like two minutes before we went out to play West Ham he was doing the moon walk in the change room. He’s done it with the music too," said Carney, still chuckling about that memory five years later.
“I’m not sure if he’s done it to calm us down before we went out, or what…”
These days, Holloway is a TV pundit.
Carney is now coached by a man many Fulham fans would recall. Thirty four year old Scott Miller took over Newcastle Jets in July.
Miller spent eight years at Fulham learning from the best as a fitness coach and assistant to gaffers like Martin Jol and the current England manager Roy Hodgson.
And Australia's youngest manager in the Hyundai A-League has made a good fist of rejuvenating last season’s bottom (there is no relegation in the Australian league of 10 clubs).
“Scott’s very passionate. They call him the rookie but I don’t think he likes that name. He’s had a lot of experience with Fulham and Roy Hodgson so he knows a lot and he’s tactically switched on,” said Carney.
Though don't expect Miller to be doing a moon walk before a big game.