Quinn on Saxton’s Sports Psychology
Sunderland legend Niall Quinn was a guest on the latest episode of From The Horse’s Mouth podcast and told an amusing story regarding Bobby Saxton’s approach to sports psychology.
Quinn explained that he had picked up an ankle injury ahead of a home game against Middlesbrough, with Peter Reid telling the striker that he should get himself ready for the game after but Saxton was having none of it:
Compared to the coaching seminars that I see nowadays talking about how to handle footballers, it makes me think “Thank God I don’t play these days.”
We had a coach, Bobby Saxton, at Sunderland. Peter Reid got all the credit for our success, but all the players knew that Bobby Saxton was behind it.
Some of the stuff Bobby would come out with to get you to play better was genius, but he did it in an old-fashioned way. He effed and jeffed at everything, called you every name under the sun – but it was for a reaction. He put us into good places.
The best one he did for me – and this is sports psychology as I knew it at Sunderland – was when I had a bad ankle, and I was having a fitness test to see if I could play a match against Middlesbrough.
I was in three hours before everybody else, and I went out on the pitch with the physio. I did a bit of jogging and a bit of twisting. When it came to kicking a ball my ankle was still swollen and it was no good, so I had to call it a day. Peter Reid came in to see me and he said “Look son, get yourself ready for next week. Don’t worry about it.”
I went “Thanks, Gaffer”, but as I was getting my suit back on Bobby Saxton came in. He slammed the door and said “Oh, so now we’ve got Billy Big Time here, starting believing all the newspapers?”
“Bob, I think that’s unfair. I’m injured here,” I said. He went “Ah no, you’ve gone big-time now. I knew you when you were a proper player – you wouldn’t even tell anyone if you had a bad ankle. Now you’re believing all that s**t in the papers. You’re turning into one of them.”
He said, “What do you mean, how dare you?” He actually pushed me. I told him, “You’re bang out of order, Bobby. I can’t even kick it.”
Bobby answered, “When did we ever ask you to kick it? Just stand between the two 18-yard lines, stay in the middle of the pitch, we’ll hit the effing ball to you, and just effing hit it. You’d better turn out and play for us today.
I gave in and said: “Jesus, I will.” Something came into me – he mentally got to me – and I said I’ll play.
Anyway, we won 1-0, and I scored a header. So that’s the sports psychology I was used to.
Unfortunately Niall’s memory is playing tricks on him, as we drew 1-1 in that particular game, thanks to a late goal by Christian Ziege cancelling out Quinn’s effort.
You can listen to the full From The Horse’s Mouth podcast with the Sunderland legend by clicking play on the link below:
Jones joins League One rivals
Former Sunderland defender Billy Jones has joined League One club Crewe Alexandra on loan until the end of the season.
The right back had been on the books of Rotherham United but has now returned to the club where he started his career, making 143 appearances for Crewe before he departed for Preston North End.
Fears raised over MSD
Championship clubs are said to have written to the EFL over potential conflicts of interest by Sunderland investors MSD.
The Daily Mail say that concerns have arose after multiple clubs took out loans with MSD, with arrangements that would see the American equity firm take control of the clubs should any fail to keep up repayments.
Derby County are most at risk as they are in financial peril following a delayed takeover that has seen players still waiting to be paid for December but Sunderland, Burnley and Southampton have all taken out similar loans with the firm.