Eurostar Daz is the new boss in town

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Front Page - BY CHRISTY BYRNE christy.byrne@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @ByrneChristy

● Daz Samp­son: ‘‘I want to pro­vide a plat­form for lo­cal play­ers to per­form at a high level’’ ● Right, Hale­bank FC cel­e­brate win­ning 2016’s Guardian Cup

WHILE Euro­pean ex­pe­ri­ence is a must for many foot­ball clubs look­ing for a man­ager, rarely can the Cheshire League Divi­sion One ex­pect to at­tract such pedi­gree.

How­ever, Hale­bank FC have bro­ken the mould in ap­point­ing a boss who has taken on Europe’s elite.

Read­ers may re­mem­ber Daz Samp­son for rep­re­sent­ing the UK at Euro­vi­sion 2006, where he placed 19th in Athens with ‘Teenage Life’ - which later climbed to num­ber 8 in the UK charts.

His ca­reer path has now brought him to Hale­bank FC, where he will step into the dugout with the aim of tak­ing them into the North West Coun­ties League.

Samp­son, 43, spoke to the Weekly News on the af­ter­noon of his ap­point­ment about his life in foot­ball, and his am­bi­tions for man­ag­ing a side who last sea­son won the Widnes Cup.

Samp­son started as a foot­baller at Stock­port County, his lo­cal team, be­fore in­jury forced him to turn his at­ten­tion to mu­sic.

On the back of his Euro­vi­sion fame he was of­fered places on I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! an and Celebrity Big Brother.

But his fame proved to be a hindr drance when he came to try and re re­turn to the sport.

“I wasn’t taken se­ri­ously in this co coun­try, I was just seen as that guy o off the telly.

“I spent time in the third tier in Poland, spent an­other four years i nmU in Guam man­ag­ing in their premier league, and then went to the USA man­ag­ing Tampa.

“I came back to this coun­try in 2016, coach­ing Ash­ton Town, but I still wasn’t taken se­ri­ously.

“But go to Guam or Tampa, they’ll not know me as a musi- cian, they’ll know me as a bloody good foot­ball man­ager.”

Samp­son has spent the last few years scout­ing for pro­fes­sional sides and coach­ing North­wich Vic­to­ria.

Prior to his an­nounce­ment as Hale­bank man­ager, Samp­son was of­fered the role of man­ager at an Evo-Stik league club, but busi­ness in­ter­ests would not al­low him to com­mit to four or five nights a week train­ing.

The Hale­bank job proved to be per­fect – he lives a five minute drive away from the ground hav­ing mar­ried his wife, who is from Hal­ton, and he wants his new club, the high­est ranked am­a­teur team in the bor­ough, to be­come a team the com­mu­nity can take pride in.

“I want to pro­vide a plat­form for lo­cal play­ers to per­form at a high level, and that means that I want to be in the North West Coun­ties League in two sea­sons.

“But we’re not go­ing to alien­ate the com­mu­nity spirit.

“I could bring 12 Man­ches­ter based play­ers in, I’ve got con­tacts com­ing through my nose.

“But I’d rather have a Widnes lad play with pride in front of his mum, dad and mates and put it in for his com­mu­nity club.

“If a 16-year-old comes to me and he’s good enough, he plays.”

“There’s a bit of un­rest in the team, and I need to sta­bilise that so I won’t be bring­ing in any new play­ers un­til I’ve seen and spo­ken to the cur­rent first team.

“There’s no point me bring­ing in three cen­tre halves and then find­ing out I’ve al­ready got two per­fectly good ones al­ready here.

“Ev­ery­one starts with a clean slate.”

The tar­get of play­ing in the North West Coun­ties League in two years time means that Samp­son will have to achieve two pro­mo­tions in two years - but Samp­son ex­udes an in­fec­tious con­fi­dence.

“We’re go­ing up this year, no two ● ways about it. “Any­thing else would be a fail­ure. “I was rank out­sider when I went on Euro­vi­sion, against the lad from Blue who ev­ery­one thought would win.

“But I knew I was go­ing to win, and this is the same.”

The aim for Hale­bank is to be­come semi-pro­fes­sional in the fu­ture, but as far as Samp­son is con­cerned the fu­ture starts now.

“We will run our team semi-pro, you don’t need money to train prop­erly or have the right at­ti­tude.

“I’m not here to change ev­ery­thing overnight, the val­ues stay the same.

“But the train­ing regime will change, and we’ll be pre­par­ing two lev­els higher than what we are.”

Samp­son is cer­tainly fo­cused on suc­cess on the pitch, and is keen to em­pha­sise that his ap­point­ment is no pub­lic­ity stunt - although he ad­mits that the raised pro­file of the club is a bonus.

“I’ll never get away from that stigma of Euro­vi­sion etc., but I don’t want it to be­come a cir­cus.

“Now I’ve joined there will be more me­dia.

“There’s one man and his dog watch­ing at the mo­ment, but that’s why I’m here!

“50 or 60 peo­ple through the gate would be bril­liant for now, and we’re only one sea­son away from peo­ple say­ing ‘this is dif­fer­ent’ and com­ing in.

“For me, Hale­bank is the next Run­corn Town,”

Unsurprisingly for some­one who has en­joyed suc­cess on the stage, Samp­son is promis­ing en­ter­tain­ment from his team, and urges foot­ball lovers to come and sup­port his team when they get the op­por­tu­nity.

“There will be goals go­ing in, and more for us than against us,

“I don’t guar­an­tee suc­cess - but if you want guar­an­tees you buy a wash­ing ma­chine.

Daz Samp­son in fi­nal re­hearsal for the 2006 Euro­vi­sion Song Con­test in Athens

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