INTERVIEW Ferry out to lift silverware with Di Canio’s Swindon, writes David Friel
SIMON FERRY does a nice line in self-deprecation. When he is reminded he is about to make a third appearance at Wembley Stadium in less than three years, the response is instant: “I suppose it’s not a bad record for a wee fat guy from Dundee.”
The Swindon Town midfielder is rarely serious, as followers of his irreverent Twitter feed would testify, yet he will be focused on football tomorrow as Paolo di Canio’s side take on Chesterfield in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final. Under the Italian’s guidance, Ferry has lived a life less ordinary this season. The public reaction to Di Canio’s appointment was sceptical, but his impact has been transformational. Also on the verge of promotion from League Two, Swindon hope to collect their first silverware of the season tomorrow afternoon.
Ferry, a midfielder and former Celtic youth player, paints a picture of Di Canio as a passionate football obsessive. He was colourful and controversial as a player but appears to have channelled his natural aggression perfectly in his first managerial job. A few public bust-ups aside, Di Canio has created a winning team.
“The manager is brilliant and will go all the way to the top,” Ferry said. “He is completely focused on football. That’s all he talks about and thinks about. He is so committed. His preparation is unbelievable. He is meticulous. He knows everything about the opposition in every game and goes into the smallest detail. He leaves nothing to chance.
“It’s been an intense season but he is getting the best out of us. We very rarely get a day off but nobody complains. A lot of the boys have had superb seasons and a lot of that is down to the manager.”
Ferry, 24, jokes that he was “fourth-choice midfielder” when Di Canio took over in the summer but has been a virtual ever-present as Swindon have blossomed. “After pre-season, I found my fitness and the manager gave me a chance,” he said. “I’ve hardly missed a game and this will be my 45th appearance of the season. It’s been a bit of slog with so many games but I’m enjoying it.”
Ferry and Di Canio both class the late Tommy Burns as a mentor. The latter was brought to Celtic by Burns in 1996, while Ferry rose through the Celtic youth academy under him. Ferry said: “The manager knows Paul Caddis and I played for Celtic but we’ve never really spoken about it. He did mention Tommy when he took over and said he was one of his inspirations. That was a nice touch but I’d expect anybody who knew Tommy to say that because he was a brilliant man, one of the best.”
And so to Wembley. Ferry first played there with Celtic in the 2009 Wembley Cup and returned 12 months later for Swindon’s unsuccessful League One play-off. It’s becoming almost an annual visit. “The manager sat us down in the dressing-room the other day and asked who had played at Wembley,” Ferry said. “Only a few of us put our hands up.
“Even he never played there and look at what he achieved in the game. We won the Wembley Cup with Celtic and that was a good experience, although looking back we were the only team not to play Barcelona in that tournament, so maybe we got lucky.
“[The final] is a huge game for us and you can sense how desperate the manager is to win it. A lot of clubs don’t take this tournament as seriously as the FA Cup or Carling Cup, but the manager doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t matter what tournament it is, he wants to win. If it’s a friendly, a bounce game, a training game, he wants to win. It would be my first professional trophy and hopefully we can do it
Championship Barnsley v Peterborough United, Burnley v West Ham United, Coventry City v Portsmouth, Derby County v Crystal Palace, Leicester City v Hull City, Middlesbrough v Bristol City, Millwall v Leeds United, Nottingham Forest v Brighton & Hove Alb, Reading v Blackpool, Southampton v Doncaster Rovers, Watford v Ipswich Town
League 1 Brentford v Rochdale, Colchester United v Carlisle United, Huddersfield Town v Charlton Athletic, Leyton Orient v Sheffield Wednesday, Oldham Athletic v Bournemouth, Preston North End v Bury, Scunthorpe United v Notts County, Tranmere Rovers v Exeter City, Walsall v Stevenage Borough, Wycombe Wanderers v Milton Keynes Dons, Yeovil Town v Hartlepool United
League 2 Bradford City v Gillingham, Bristol Rovers v Southend United, Cheltenham Town v Oxford Utd, Crawley Town v Rotherham United, Dagenham & Redbridge v Accrington Stanley, Hereford United v Crewe Alexandra, Morecambe Town v Shrewsbury Town, Northampton Town v Plymouth Argyle, Torquay United v Port Vale, Wimbledon v Burton Albion
Ligue 1 (6pm unless stated) Ajaccio v Lorient, Brest v Nancy, Evian Thonon Gaillard v Lille, Olympique Lyonnais v Sochaux, Montpellier v Saint-etienne, Nice v Olympique Marseille, Valenciennes v Rennes (8pm)
Bundesliga 1 (2.30 unless stated) Bayern Munich v Hannover ’96, Borussia Moenchengladbach v TSG Hoffenheim, FSV Mainz v Hertha Berlin, SC Freiburg v Kaiserslautern, Werder Bremen v Augsburg, Schalke ’04 v Bayer Leverkusen (5.30)
Serie A AC Milan v Roma (5pm), Palermo v Udinese (7.45)
Eredivisie Den Haag v Twente Enschede (7.45), Heerenveen v VVV Venlo (6.45), NAC Breda v NEC Nijmegen (6.45), Roda JC Kerkrade v Vitesse Arnhem (5.45)
Ireland. Carling Premiership Crusaders v Carrick Rangers, Donegal Celtic v Cliftonville, Dungannon Swifts v Glenavon, Glentoran v Ballymena United, Lisburn Distillery v Linfield, Portadown v Coleraine (5.20)
Superliga Sporting Lisbon v Feirense (8.15)
Primera Liga Getafe v Valencia (9pm), Real Madrid v Real Sociedad (7pm), Real Mallorca v Barcelona (5pm)
Premier League West Bromwich Albion v Newcastle United (4pm)
Championship Birmingham City v Cardiff City (noon)
Paint Trophy. Final Chesterfield v Swindon Town (Wembley, 2pm)
Ligue 1 (6pm unless stated) Dijon v Caen (4pm), Paris Saint-germain v Girondins Bordeaux (8pm), Toulouse v Auxerre (4pm)
Bundesliga 1 Cologne v Borussia Dortmund (4.30), VFB Stuttgart v Nuremberg (2.30)
Serie A (2pm unless stated) Atalanta v Bologna (11.30), Cesena v Parma, Chievo v Siena, Genoa v Fiorentina, Juventus v Inter Milan (7.45), Lazio v Cagliari, Napoli v Catania, Novara v Lecce
Eredivisie Ajax v PSV Eindhoven (3.30), AZ Alkmaar v RKC Waalwijk (11.30), De Graafschap v Feyenoord (1.30), Heracles v Utrecht (1.30)
Superliga (4pm unless stated) Beira Mar v Nacional Madeira, Pacos Ferreira v Porto (8.15), Rio Ave v Vitoria Guimaraes (6pm), Vitoria Setubal v Uniao Leiria
of Ireland. Airtricity Lge of Ireland Prem Div Bohemians v St Patrick’s Ath (4pm)
Primera Liga Athletic Bilbao v Sporting Gijon (5pm), Espanyol v Malaga (3pm), Levante v Osasuna (3pm), Rayo Vallecano v Villarreal (6.45), Real Betis v Racing Santander (6.45), Real Zaragoza v Atletico Madrid (11am)
Simon Ferry will line up in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final against Chesterfield tomorrow.