‘A third time at Truro wasn’t something I really enjoyed’
In football, old adages say that you should never go back but for some, the third time can prove to be lucky.
In the case of Steve Massey, he tried to combine both by returning to Truro City once more in 2013 as their manager after previous boss Lee Hodges walked away from the then cash-strapped side.
Before Massey took the reins in the wake of Hodges’ departure, he openly admitted to being interested in buying the club but was put off by pouring money ‘down a hole’.
After working under Kevin Heaney during his second-spell, on the third occasion, Massey’s chairman was local businessman Peter Masters, who took Truro out of administration and saved the club from liquidation. Despite Massey’s burning ambition and Masters’ genuine enthusiasm, it wasn’t a match made in heaven.
“It was probably my least enjoyable season in over 30 years of football management because I was firefighting all the time,” said Massey of the 2013-14 campaign, in the third and final part of an exclusive interview with the Voice.
“Managing the team wasn’t supposed to be my job because I was brought in as a director of football, that kind of role. In some respects, I did have unfinished business with Truro but doing something different really excited me and I was looking forward to working with a manager and having a really good relationship with him.
“Sean Joyce was going to come and at the last minute, and I mean the last minute, he decided to stay at Bideford which was his comfort blanket. He said that he didn’t know that much about Cornish football but I told him that he didn’t need too because he had good people around him like Glynn Hooper, Kirky (Graham Kirkup) and myself.
“I just wanted him to manage the team and it left us with nobody. We didn’t have a player signed on in the Southern Premier with pre-season less than a month away but we managed to get Jakey Ash signed on and he was the catalyst for others to follow.
“My ego then took over a little bit and I thought I would do it. I told Peter that I would take it on but he had to be patient and I also wanted to try and use the best Cornish guys in the area playing for Cornish clubs. I said that it would be a good idea to leave some of the older heads behind and use players like Liam Eddy, Neil Slateford, Olly Brokenshire, Shane White, Warren Daw - I brought them all in.
“Obviously, though, I wasn’t given the time or the patience but for the majority of those players, it was wrong place at the wrong time and a bit too soon for them.”
Although Massey was acutely aware of the financial predicament Truro found themselves in at this point of their history, due to his previous enquiry, he revealed that the firefighting was far more drastic than he expected.
“We were forced to cut the budget and the money for the players was really, really healthy which is why they got in trouble,” he added. “I actually met the administrators on a couple of occasions and thought I actually fancied it. But then, I didn’t want to get myself into huge debt and didn’t want to pour money down a hole.
“I was looking at it purely as a football project and thought the only way it could be saved was to let it drop down the leagues and start again. I spoke to a few people like Chris Webb about starting a club called AFC Truro. It wouldn’t have been about letting the club die but more cutting its feet off and then bang, we would try and bring it back.
“That’s what I was expecting and then at the last minute I heard this guy called Peter Masters had come in and rescued it. I thought this was great and fair play to the guy and he had some fantastic ideas. I believed in what we were trying to do and I know I got hammered a lot, but I didn’t enjoy things from October onwards in my last year when I knew Peter didn’t really have any patience for me.
“Kevin Heaney was a football man but that wasn’t where he fell down. Peter was different and he is the kind of guy that you would want trying to sort out the NHS because 100 per cent he would.
“He wouldn’t make any friends doing it but in football, there is a lot of kidology and rubbing egos up the right way and Peter couldn’t stand that. Please don’t think that is me criticising Peter because I have huge respect for him and if I had a business, I would want him in charge because he would get results.”
Massey’s respect for his former chairman is genuine and there was no hint of animosity when describing how his final spell at Treyew Road ended.
Unlike his fall-out with previous club owner Heaney, former Wrexham and AFC Bournemouth striker Massey didn’t leave of his own accord and after an ultimatum from Masters, he was sacked and replaced with Steve Tully in March 2014.
“It was tough going at Truro the third time and I know the areas I needed to sort,” Massey revealed. “I thought Kirky let me down a bit and I don’t mind making big decisions, like I have at Helston, by upsetting a few people.
“Peter said that I had to get rid of my backroom staff and told me I had to do it within 24-hours. I was in a shop on Oxford Street as I had gone up to London for a few days and Peter phoned me. He said that we had to do something because of the results and he thought we would get relegated.
“I told him there was no way we would get relegated and we had players lined up for next year. He felt that my two backroom lads Glynn Hooper and Kirky were dragging me down and I had to move them on.
“He called me back the following day and I told him they were good guys and we would be fine. He asked me if I would be director of football and I said no, but Peter said he was sacking me in that case.
“I defy anyone to say that they don’t have a problem with being sacked as it hurt and it hurts your reputation. It certainly hurt me but a third time at Truro wasn’t something I really enjoyed.”