Dunston vs Chester 06/10/18

Chris Swailes who prefers to be known as simply, “Swaz” has lead Dunston UTS to an unbeaten start in the Northern League and his team currently occupy first position.

The first thing he made abundantly clear though is, “Nothing is won in December.” Showing he has a level head and is looking to the future rather than focusing on the past.

Aidan: You’ve definitely had a phenomenal start to the season?

Swaz: Yeah, yeah but it was like that last season and we got three injuries at Ashington and we went through a right blip and I lost three of my team. And that’s what happens, the more you talk about it the more it comes to bite you on the backside. Football changes in a week, no bother.

Aidan: Injuries are usually the killer, aren’t they?

Swaz: That’s it. Games build up as well, postponements because of the weather. We ended up playing 16 games in 26 days last year so not only can you not win those games you’re struggling to put a team together. Because lads are playing 4-5 times a week and their jobs get in the way.

Aidan: How much of a transition is the jump from being a player to a manager?

Swaz: Well as a player you’re completely selfish, aren’t you? You do what you want whereas as a manager you’ve got everybody. The good of the club, every player, the whole team, the squad. Whereas you, you’re just selfish as a player. You do what you want for yourself. There’s nothing wrong with that, that’s what you do as a player. If every player is selfish and does what they want then they’ll gel together and do well. But as a manager, your first thought is for each individual and then putting them together in a team selection. It’s not about the individual for the manager, it’s about the team and the squads and the club if you like. It’s a massive difference, a massive difference. Nobody can prepare you for it, it just comes with the job. You learn quickly and fast on your feet. Hopefully, you’ve got a good staff around you and a good chairman.

Aidan: Would you say you that at Dunston?

Swaz:  Are, yes. Yes. Yes, very much so. Yes.

Aidan: You said last season a lot of the problems were postponements and playing 16 games in 26 days. Is that the main thing you learned from last season?

Swaz: It’s keeping players fit when you’ve got that much backlog of fixtures you have to fulfill them and by a certain time, it’s impossible. Sometimes you find when that happens it’s not the best teams who win the league although I think Morpeth and Marske were the best teams. It’s the next best teams I don’t think that was right. Because those probably had the better pitch at the end. You know what I mean? It’s daft little things like that. Those who fulfilled the fixtures within time of each other. If they went from Saturday, Tuesday Saturday. We played Saturday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday for three weeks and you cannot do that. I mean Premier League managers are talking about having one in midweek is too much. Which is crazy, you know. So for us to do that many in a short space of a time obviously jeopardized our league position because you’re always going to get knocks and you weren’t bothered about winning it’s about getting the fixtures fulfilled.      

Aidan: How does it actually feel to be unbeaten currently in the league?

Swaz: Are, it’s great but you know, anything can happen it’s crackers. I keep telling them to take it game by game. The top 10 now I think are all very, very good sides and anybody can beat anybody on the day. I mean Seaham on Saturday is going to be a difficult game they gave us a really hard game at our place. It’ll be a difficult game. Whickham, third bottom, we managed to scrape a win there. But there are some really difficult fixtures, you know. I mean we were 2-0 down against North Shields and we managed to draw 2-2. We were getting beat off Newton Aycliffe for a long time and we managed to win 3-1. Every fixture is different and has problems to get over, you know. But at the minute, yeah it’s great and it’s great to be top of the table.

Aidan: What aspirations did you have this season, if any?

Swaz: We wanted to progress and finish better than 10th if I’m honest and have a good Vase run, but we didn’t have a good Vase run if I’m honest. But finishing in the Top 10 is on course, hopefully, barring a catastrophe. But the vase run is a big disappointment for me.

Aidan: Is that a massive importance for you as you’ve won it three times as a player?

Swaz: Yeah, Winterton had two shots on goal and one wasn’t even a shot it was a cross and it went in the top corner. We were denied two penalties, two blatant penalties in my eyes, you know. And everybody who was there and we weren’t given them, that’s what you need in the Vase, a home draw and if you don’t get the home draw you need an away draw in the North East if you like because everything seems to go against you. From my experience and it did that day.

Aidan: Despite this, you had a great cup run in the FA Cup. Was the win over Chester a huge boost in confidence?

Swaz:  Yeah it was great, it was rewarding in terms of beating them and towards the club as well, financially. I went down to watch Chester and I thought, aye we’ve got a chance here especially with the home tie and low and behold we did. They’re a very good side and I think they’re third or fourth now in their league. They’ve picked up and they were on a good run at the time and I thought, you know, we’ve got a chance against them and we set up in a way I thought we’d beat them and we had a good day. Nail biting if I’m honest. We ended up hanging on in the end but it was a great day for the club. All in all, a great cup run.

Aidan: The next round against Gateshead was obviously disappointing but was the fact companies like the BBC came down to watch the game and gave you a bit more exposure. Was that a good thing even though the game ended in disappointment?

Swaz: Yeah, yeah I mean we got our record crowd as well. 2500 came to Dunston to watch us against Gateshead, one game too far if I’m honest. We didn’t perform on the day either but the exposure we got was excellent. The club made a killing money wise, ground improvements are on the way. Starting to be done for next season, etc. Even though we lost in the FA Vase early doors, I would have preferred a good FA Vase run rather than an FA Cup run if I’m honest. But the FA Cup is more financially rewarding than the FA Vase so you’ve got to take the rough with the smooth we’ve done well in the FA Cup against teams who were in the higher divisions than us. Not just Chester but Pontefract and North Ferriby. So yeah it was a great run while it lasted but as I say, financially rewarding but at the same time one step too far.

Aidan: Final question. Would you say as a non-league side the cups are the most important thing to improve the club?

Swaz: Yeah, are yeah, yeah. I mean they’ve doubled the sponsor’s money for the FA Cup this season so it was rewarding. The volunteers that come and help the clubs out it goes without saying how much reward we gave to them by doing well in the cup. Every penny counts, you know it really does. Towards clubs struggling financially so to get numbers down, I think we had 800 against Chester as well, so you know it’s a massive boost for the club and as I say, anybody who gets further than what they’re meant to do will make money and hopefully save the club for another season like we did. Because it’s hard to get sponsorships.