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The Big Interview with York City's Scott Kerr
A red card stymied Scott Kerr’s initial move to Bootham Crescent. Now he is at City he tells DAVE FLETT his aim is promotion.
NEW signing Scott Kerr has revealed he was ready to join York City three months ago until circumstances conspired against a loan move to Bootham Crescent.
The former Scarborough midfielder had hoped to leave Lincoln City for the Minstermen at the start of November but, when Clark Keltie was sent off in an FA Cup fourth qualifying round tie against Nuneaton, Sincil Bank boss Steve Tilson pulled the plug on the deal.
Lincoln went on to win that match 1-0 after Kerr was introduced at half-time.
He then retained his starting place for the next six matches and, prior to his transfer deadline day move to North Yorkshire, had featured heavily in three successive wins, being named in the first XI for the last two fixtures and coming on as a 22nd-minute substitute in the other.
About his patient wait to join forces with long-time suitor Gary Mills, the one-time Lincoln skipper said: “I knew the gaffer here was interested in me when he first came to the club a few months ago. I was out of the team at Lincoln at the time and, having spoken to him, I was going to agree to come here then but then the sending-off came against Nuneaton in the FA Cup.
“I was needed in the side again and did really well. We won that match and the next two so the move got scuppered.
“I was still playing regularly before the deadline but I found out York wanted to take me on permanently and the gaffer at Lincoln offered me the chance to talk to them again. Living in Leeds, York is closer to home and, after speaking to the club, I was more than happy to move.
“The only downside was coming out of the League but I had a look at the league table and saw the club weren’t far away from the play-offs with a couple of games in hand so it felt the right time to come here.
“I didn’t see eye to eye with the manager at Lincoln either really. I felt he disrespected me a bit and, having been there for six years, it was time to move on.”
Some, however, might have felt the timing of Kerr’s transfer was a little unfortunate, as it left him one game short of 250 appearances for Lincoln.
That landmark was also due to be reached at his first club Bradford City on the night he made his debut for City instead during a glorious 4-1 Blue Square Bet Premier home victory over table-topping AFC Wimbledon.
Kerr, though, has no regrets about that decision.
He said: “It would have been nice to get to 250 but it’s only a number after all and 249 still represents a good innings to be fair.
“York offered me an 18-month contract and, speaking to the gaffer here, showed me how ambitious he is. He wants to take York back where they belong.
“They are a League club who have been in the Conference for a few years now but hopefully I can help to get them back up there.”
Kerr was lavished with praise by new manager Mills at the end of his first game filling the midfield anchorman role in City colours and, in turn, the Leeds-born 29-year-old was highly impressed by his team-mates’ willingness to graft hard for the club’s cause.
He said: “I only met the lads for the first time at 4pm that day when the gaffer ran through how he likes to play but the team were magnificent and we worked really hard to stop them playing. I had been told by a few friends who play in the Conference that Wimbledon are the best footballing side in the league but we dominated the game and could have won by more.
“It was a pretty faultless display other than the goal we conceded and our work-rate meant we pressed them all over the pitch so they never had a moment on the ball.”
Kerr clearly places a strong importance on a team’s work ethic – a mindset born from cutting his teeth under Paul Jewell at then Premier League outfit Bradford.
The 5ft 7in midfielder played his first senior game for the Bantams in the Intertoto Cup and went on to enjoy one top-flight outing as a 19-year-old substitute against Coventry.
He also cites the example of a former Torino, Napoli, Inter Milan and Aston Villa star as having an early influence on his career, adding: “I had some good times at Bradford.
“I served my YTS there and signed professional terms under Paul Jewell, who was a really good manager. He set the tone for my career with his discipline and, as well as playing a few games, I was on the bench a lot, which was all good to experience.
“I also played with the likes of Benito Carbone, Stuart McCall and Stan Collymore. A lot of people saw Benni’s quality in games but what they didn’t see was how hard he worked every day in training.
“He would still be on the training ground at 3pm or 4pm practising free-kicks. Foreign players sometimes get a name for not working hard enough but he worked his socks off in training and his quality was as good as anybody I’ve seen too.
“Stan Collymore was obviously a character too and brings so many things to a club including lots of goals. He was a fantastic footballer who under-achieved in his career really with the ability he had.”
A move to Hull City followed for Kerr but he failed to make a single league appearance for the Tigers in two years due to a bad back injury and falling from favour with new manager Peter Taylor.
Two seasons at Scarborough rejuvenated his career though and he played in the Seadogs’ 2-0 win at Bootham Crescent during the Minstermen’s painful first campaign of Conference football in 2004/5.
He left before the now defunct coastal club went bust but admitted he was saddened to see his old team go to the wall and argues most City supporters would share in his sorrow given the big attendances that used to flock to the derby matches.
“The rivalry between the two teams was more for the fans who always told us how big the games were,” Kerr recalled. “But, I’m a feisty player, who likes to get stuck in and put myself about and, when those games came along, they were feisty affairs so I enjoyed them.
“It’s always good for the supporters to have local rivals and I imagine the York fans are a bit sad that those matches have been lost. It’s not nice to see Scarborough’s ground all overgrown now but, if you don’t get things right off the pitch, these things happen.”
Few people dispute these days that there is any great gulf in standard between League Two and the Blue Square Bet Premier.
Kerr concurs there is little discernible difference between the squad he left behind at Lincoln and the one he has joined at Bootham Crescent and is looking forward to tackling the league leaders again in Saturday’s return.
He said: “I think we sent a few messages out with our performance against Wimbledon last week but it will be a tough game going to their place as they will come at us a bit more and we will need to work hard again to stop them playing.”