He’ll run through brick walls to suc­ceed PAUL BUCKLE FACTFILE

The Football League Paper - - PEOPLE - By Chris Dunlavy

NOT ev­ery player gets to be­gin his ca­reer in a plush academy – not least new Chel­tenham boss Paul Buckle. “No, he didn’t have a glam­orous start,” said Steve Per­ry­man, the first-team man­ager at Grif­fin Park when Buckle joined Brent­ford as a 16-year-old in 1987.

“I re­mem­ber when he first joined us on a YTS, there was no room in digs. So he even­tu­ally ended up stay­ing in my mother’s spare room for the first three months!”

But you can bet Mrs Per­ry­man didn’t have any com­plaints. Be­cause if there’s one thing Buckle is fa­mous for, it’s his stan­dards.

In­spired by his friend­ship with ul­tra-pro­fes­sional veteran Chris Hughton (with whom he drove to train­ing at Brent­ford), Buckle fas­tid­i­ously looked after his body, even as a young man in the beer­swilled early nineties.

Though he lacked the raw abil­ity to ever make the high­est grade, fit­ness and a fear­some work-rate al­lowed him to forge a ca­reer as an in­de­fati­ga­ble mid­field gen­eral – never bet­ter demon­strated than in his Colch­ester hey­day.

Along­side the equally un­quench­able Richard Wilkins, Buckle reached the fi­nal of the Foot­ball League Trophy in 1997 and, a year later, re­turned to Wem­b­ley to guide the U’s to vic­tory over Torquay in the Di­vi­sion Three play-off fi­nal. “Those lads in mid­field wouldn’t just run through brick walls,” said then­boss Steve Wig­nall. “They’d turn around and smash what was left. It was a great team and you could see how much peo­ple like Paul and Richard cared for the club.”

A re­turn to the West Coun­try with Ex­eter brought plenty of games but lit­tle ma­te­rial suc­cess and, with one eye al­ready on coach­ing, he dropped into Non­League with Alder­shot in 2002.

Two years later, he be­gan work­ing with Ex­eter’s youth team un­der Alex In­glethorpe whilst play­ing for Wey­mouth. Then, in 2007 and still just 36, he was named man­ager of a Torquay side that had just tum­bled out of the Foot­ball League in dis­ar­ray.

Ac­cord­ing to Hughton, Buckle was al­ways go­ing to end up in the dugout.

“I’ve known Paul for a long time and he was al­ways en­thu­si­as­tic and knowl­edge­able, al­ways ask­ing ques­tions,” said the for­mer New­cas­tle and Nor­wich boss.“So it was no sur­prise to see his path go into man­age­ment.”

Yet Buckle wasn’t so sure. “If I’m hon­est, man­age­ment wasn’t some­thing I ac­tively pur­sued,” he ad­mit­ted. “It was some­thing that came as a con­se­quence of my work at Ex­eter. But, once the of­fer was there, I thought why not?’

“He’s a stick­ler for de­tails,” said Shaun North, his for­mer as­sis­tant at Torquay and Bris­tol Rovers. Born: Wel­wyn Gar­den City, 1970 (Age 43) Play­ing Ca­reer: A com­bat­ive cen­tral mid­fielder , Buckle came thr ough

in six years at the ranks at Brent­ford and went on to make 74 ap­pear­ances Grif­fin Park, in ad­di­tion to a loan spell at Wy­combe. After nine goals in 69 games for Torquay, Buckle joined Ex­eter in

1995 but was re­leased after 25 games with the club un­able to pay his wages.

side and win proHe then moved to Colch­ester, where he would skip­per the mo­tion to the sec­ond tier with play-off vic­tory over Torquay at Wem­b­ley. After seven goals in 114 games for the U’s, he re­turned to Ex­eter in 1999 and spent a fur­ther three sea­sons at St James Park be­fore drop­ping into Non­League with Alder­shot and Wey­mouth. Buckle’s fi­nal move was a third re­turn

r etire­ment in to Ex­eter as player -coach, a r ole he r emained in un­til his 2007. In to­tal, Buckle scored 48 goals in 544 ap­pear­ances. Man­age­rial ca­reer: Named man­ager of T orquay in 2007, Buckle led

first sea­son, losthe Gulls to the Con­fer­ence play-off semi-fi­nals in his ing to for­mer club Ex­eter. The fol­low­ing year, his side beat Cam­bridge at Wem­b­ley to re­turn to the Foot­ball League and in 2010-11, Buckle

to guided his side to the League T wo play-of fs wher e they lost Steve­nage in the fi­nal. Buckle then joined a Bris­tol Rovers side newly-rel­e­gated to League Two but left after win­ning just eight of 29 games in charge. A move to Lu­ton in April 2012 saw him lead the Hat­ters to a

Con­fer­ence play-off fi­nal de­feat to York in his first sea­son, then reach the FA Cup fifth round in his sec­ond. How­ever, de­spite a win per­cent­age of 54 per cent, Buckle quit to move to the USA with his broad­caster wife. After a spell work­ing in a US academy, Buckle re­turned to man­age­ment with League Two Chel­tenham in Novem­ber. “He’s mas­sively fo­cused on hard work and minute de­tails. He knows what he wants and he makes sure every­body knows what he wants.”

On the pitch, too, there was no room for slop­pi­ness.

“I worked with Gor­don Stra­chan and Glenn Hod­dle at Southamp­ton but Paul’s at­ten­tion to de­tail is sec­ond to none,” added Scott Be­van, the keeper in that Torquay side. “He gets the DVDs out and analy­ses ev­ery lit­tle thing. He tells ev­ery­one their jobs and if you don’t do what is re­quired then you are out of the team. It’s quite sim­ple.”

The re­sults were in­stant, with de­feat in the Con­fer­ence play-off semis avenged by pro­mo­tion in 2009 and, two years later, a place in the top six of League Two.

Yet what worked in Devon was less fruit­ful when Buckle joined Bris­tol Rovers in 2011.

There, his ruth­less­ness served only to rile a squad full of ex­pe­ri­enced pros and he was dis­missed in Jan­uary 2012 hav­ing won just eight of his 29 games in charge.

Though a move to

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

HEY­DAY: Buckle play­ing for Colch­ester United

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