VASE TRIUMPH: Tiverton Town did the FA Vase double in 1998 and 1999
By Matt Badcock
When Martyn Rogers started managing Tiverton Town in 1991, Scott Rogers was still at school. Eight years later, a 19-year-old Scott – son of Martyn’s cousin Peter – would score the winning goal at Wembley as Tivvy claimed back-to-back FA Vase success.
Former Exeter City player Martyn has gone on to manage more than 1,400 games, the majority at Tiverton Town, while Scott had a successful Non-League career at Forest Green, Bath City, Newport County and Eastleigh.
After a spell as Willand Rovers manager, he returned to Tiverton Town before the family duo became joint-managers at the start of the season.
When the Southern Premier Division South season was halted, the south-west club were in the play-off places.
Here the pair recall those early days and what it’s been like in the dug-out together.
MARTYN ROGERS: “I don’t think there’s many I would have shared the duties with other than him. He played for ten years with me so he knows how I work. It was a seamless thing.
“I phoned the lads at Slough -–Neil Baker and Jon Underwood – to have a conversation about how things work. Obviously when you’ve been a manager for 26 years yourself, you do ask your assistants and coaches but you have your own thoughts.
“Scott lives 200 yards away. He’ll pop over on a Friday night, we’ll have a chat on Sunday – we’re constantly talking about the game. Scott loves football.
“Colin Nation deserves a mention. He was my assistant before Scott became joint-manager and he’s been a great help – now he is assistant to two lads! You could get some who would get the hump they haven’t been asked.
“Scott is good with the players, he’s been there and done it at a good Non-League level so he knows the standards required for us to improve. We get on great. We have the same philosophy and you need that.”
SCOTT ROGERS: “I’m 40 now and when you’ve got young lads running past you – the last few years of my career at least I could kick them and bring them down but when you can’t do that you know it’s time to not play at that level!
“Managing fries your brain. I remember when I was player-manager at Willand Rovers – I’d be looking across to my assistant manager trying to make subs and he’s told me, ‘You’ve already made three!’.
“I had two quite good years as manager of Willand. We got to the fourth round qualifying of the FA Cup, which was great.
“Everyone says play as long as you can so I went back and did that for three or four years. I probably would have carried on playing somewhere a bit lower this season but the opportunity was too good to turn down. Martyn knows me inside out and it’s gone really well.”
MR: “It was funny. Scott came around before the end of last season and said, ‘I need to be doing more. I don’t feel you’re getting the best out of me’. I said, ‘Well, what are you thinking – come on, spit it out’. He said, ‘It’s a massive call’. I said, ‘I like it’.
“I hadn’t lost my appetite but he’s taken me up to another level. When you’ve been doing it 27 years people might say you’ve lost it. I haven’t lost that will to win – ask any referee if I have! But he’s given me that extra edge.
“The first thing I said to Scott was, ‘I want you to do the first talk in the dressing room’. That was something that came from the boys at Slough – decide who is talking first, decide who is going to talk at half-time.
“He managed Willand but then he was doing it his way and now we’re doing it as a joint venture. That’s gone really well. He can intervene when I’m talking and back it up. Scott will be better for the season he’s had under his belt and I will as well.”
SR: “Martyn and my dad moved down to the west country to play for Exeter so we’ve always been in the same area. We have a chat on a Friday night about the team. We think pretty similar so there’s not too much discussion.
“We’ve got a great bunch of lads – they’ve got great attitudes and they make managing easy. We’re both winners. Martyn has won umpteen things in his career and I’ve been lucky enough to be relatively successful on the playing side. I’ve played 400 games for Tiverton and he was manager for virtually all of them so we know how each other thinks and what we want from our team.”
Tiverton Town reached the FA Vase final under Martyn Rogers in 1993, only to lose 1-0 to Bridlington Town.
He vowed they would return and learned from mistakes he made in the build-up to the big game at Wembley. In 1998, they beat Tow Law Town 1-0 thanks to Pete Barley’s late strike.
A year later, they won by the same scoreline against Bedlington Terriers. This time another substitute, who had also played in their triumph the season before, grabbed the late decisive goal – a young Scott Rogers.
SR: “It wasn’t my cleanest strike in the world! I managed to wriggle through a couple of challenges and it ended up breaking for me. Sometimes the footballing gods are on your side. A couple of ricochets went for me, then I half hit it across the keeper and it trickled in. The keeper maybe could have saved it, Phil Everett maybe could have tapped it in but no one did.”
MR: “What made me laugh was when Scott scored he ran behind one of the goals where there was no crowd!”
SR: “I was an apprentice at Bristol City and one of the ones released when we were 18. You think, ‘Oh, I’ll go down and play in the Western League with Tiverton, it won’t be a problem’. But they had such a good side.
“The first couple of years when I was 18, 19, I was nowhere near getting in the team. They had the likes of Steve Daly and Pete Conning playing – I thought I was going to walk into the team but I was nowhere near it.
“If it had been anyone other than Martyn as manager and being family, I probably would have ended up somewhere else and not gone on to have the Non-League career I did. But I had the advice to stick it out, play with some good players, so I did. It was hard because your mates are going, ‘Oh, you were sub again,’ but I eventually broke into the team. When you broke into that Tiverton team then you were doing alright.
“We had Phil Everett, Kevin Nancekivell, who is a good friend and first team coach at Plymouth now. He was a farmer that came down from North Devon. He scored umpteen amount of goals and got a move to Plymouth. He used to run all day.
“Jason Rees was a big influence on me. He came from Exeter City, 5ft 4ins and unbelievable. He took me under his wing. Another was Chris Holloway, my brother-in-law, the likes of him and Pete Conning were top midfielders and I learnt a lot from them.”
MR: “One of the biggest management lessons I learnt was from Wembley and the Vase finals. When you’re not used to going to Wembley, cor, that first one you don’t know what you are doing.
“It’s a massive achievement but you’re so naive. In 1993, Wembley was boiling. All the protocol throws you.
“You’re sat there and the game passes you by. You don’t react. The second time I was really switched on.
“It was funny, the two Tow Law Town lads opposite me were exactly like I was the first time. They said after the game, ‘You looked cool as a cucumber’. They were sweating, still in their suits. I said, ‘I know exactly where you are coming from’.
“I learnt from our mistakes. I had a friend who knew Pat Jennings well. I’m a big Tottenham fan. Pat loves his golf and somebody said we could get a round for the boys the day before. I thought, ‘That will take their minds off the game a bit’.
“When you look back it was the worst idea in the world. Walking around a golf course you don’t know, it was warm – I thought, ‘I won’t ever do that again’.
“I hate losing. That night we lost the final people were coming up to me saying, ‘Well done, you did great to get there’. I said, ‘No, I didn’t’. I went to bed early. The lads must have been thinking I was a miserable bugger. I thought, ‘I’ve got to come back’.”
SR: “It was unbelievable to be a part of those Vase wins. It’s a funny divide between qualifying for the Trophy or being a top team in the Vase – and Tiverton were a top team in the Vase. Every year you’d think you had a chance.
“It was the camaraderie of staying away in hotels all over the country. For a Non-League team that was quite a big thing. You felt like it was a big day for everyone and felt like a proper football. Those Vase games stick out, the crowds and the town getting behind you.”
MR: “One of the biggest things for me is my wife, Anita, still goes out now with players’ wives, the chairman’s wife from those two Wembley wins. There’s about eight of them and every year they go out. That typifies the togetherness. Managers talk about families when you get good sides.
“They don’t miss going out every year. That’s testimony to what it does for your club.
“The second time on the Friday we went to the dog racing at Wembley – I thought it would be nice for the boys to go to an empty stadium with each other.
“Everybody pats you on the back when you get to Wembley, they forget there’s a game to be won. The biggest thing I could put over to them was, ‘We ain’t finished. Nice hotel, new suits, but it means nothing if you lose. Get that into your heads’.
“Two years running we were superb. We were up against two good teams but that experience I had was a massive factor.
“Substitutions at Wembley are massive. The boys are knackered from the tension of the game. A bit of freshness is important. Both times a sub scored the winner – Pete Varley and Scott.”
With football currently suspended, the Tiverton pair can’t make plans for the new campaign but they are looking forward to football resuming and continuing with their dual role.
MR: “People ask me now how I feel – I feel brilliant, I feel I’ve got so much to give and I’m enjoying it. Sir Alex Ferguson invited me up when I reached 1,000 games. He made me feel like a god. He said, ‘You’ll know when the time is right’. I can’t imagine going over to Tivvy and not being in the dressing room.”
SR: We always keep an eye out for players and who could improve us. I don’t enjoy the bit where players have served you well but you are moving them on. That’s not nice.
“That’s where Martyn is really good. I’m learning that side of it by seeing how he does it. I’ve had to make a few phone calls and tell players it’s probably best for us and them if they move on. When you put the phone down you think, ‘Cor, that wasn’t easy’, but you feel like you’ve done your job.
“There’s ups and downs and that’s why having two of you is quite nice because you can bounce off each other.”