FORMER York City hero Andy McMillan has been plotting against his old club ahead of today’s League Two clash at Barnet.
McMillan, second only behind Barry Jackson in the all-time appearance record for the Minstermen, now works as youth-team manager and under-21s development coach for Barnet and was tasked with a scouting brief on his return to North Yorkshire last weekend.
The Wembley-winning right-back was a note-taking observer as City’s first match back in the Football League ended in a 3-1 home defeat to Wycombe Wanderers but McMillan is still expecting a strong challenge from Gary Mills’ men at Underhill today.
On his spying trip, McMillan confessed: “I watched last week’s game in my new role, which was a bit weird but I’m expecting a very good match, especially after watching York at Wembley last season, where they passed the ball for fun.
“The ’keeper (Michael Ingham ) always impresses me with his distribution and the way he goes about his job and I was at Lincoln when Scott Kerr was there when Steve Tilson told him he could not run around the pitch any more.
“I couldn’t understand that at the time. He makes things tick for York in midfield even though he’s injured at the moment.”
Given his new allegiance and his strong ties with City – middle son Alex now plays for the club’s under-13 side – McMillan is reluctant to admit who he will be rooting for today.
The South African-born 44-year-old will be dashing across London in time for kick off after overseeing the youth team’s first fixture of the season at Charlton and is only predicting that the Bees will have a better season under new boss Mark Robson, saying: “It’s a very young squad with some good players like Olly Lee from West Ham and experienced players like Jonathan Fortune, who used to be at Charlton.
“Ricky Holmes is the main man in terms of goals and creating but the manager is also very keen to see young players coming through.
“He put a second-year scholar, George Sykes, in against Bristol Rovers on Tuesday and 18-year-old Jamal Lowe is in today’s squad.
“The manager always has one or two training with the first-team squad every day to have a look at them and we will then have a chat about what they need to work on to get better. Barnet are a good little club trying to do everything right and, hopefully, they won’t be in the same situation as they have been for the last three years, trying to stay up on the final day.
“I can’t see that happening under Mark Robson because the club are moving in the right direction.”
McMillan, who spent the last two-and-a-half years working with Lincoln City’s youth team, is now a UEFA ‘A’ licence standard coach. He was given the job at Barnet having impressed Robson and director of football Paul Fairclough after being invited to put on a couple of coaching sessions in North London.
His dedication to the job means he is away from his York-based family for five days a week but, for now, feels that sacrifice is worthwhile.
“It is hard being away from my family but it was a fantastic offer I couldn’t refuse,” McMillan said.
“The club’s got a brilliant new training ground that looks like it’s part of a Premier League set-up when you pass it on the Tube and I am working with great people like Mark Robson and Kenny Brown to produce footballers.”
Being located so near to the capital’s big clubs might have its drawbacks but McMillan reckons close proximity brings its own benefits.
“With the location, Arsenal and Spurs want to get the first pick on a lot of the good players from the area but we get a lot of players that have been released by those two clubs,” he pointed out. “They are looking for different players to us really and, while we want to produce Premier League players, we have to be realistic.
“We are in League Two and know that anybody showing a high level of talent will be moved on by us for money. At Arsenal and Spurs, you have to be exceptional to make it because of the big signings these clubs make.
“Even West Ham have spent £11 million on Matt Jarvis from Wolves when you’d have thought they might have someone coming through just as good but, at Barnet, we are only interested in producing footballers.
“The manager here wants to play from the back and through midfield by passing the ball around and that’s what I believe in.”
McMillan is hoping to create some fond memories at Underhill with Barnet having enjoyed one particular City match there.
“I remember before Wembley in 1993 we won 5-1 at Barnet to get us into the play-offs,” he recalled.
“I think Gary Bull got their goal and Paul Barnes scored a hat-trick.
“I’ve still got a picture at my house of me and Steve Tutill embracing after that match.”
McMillan is relieved, however, that he does not have to contend with the Bees’ infamous sloping pitch for 90 minutes any more, adding: “It’s still here and it’s still impressive.
“It’s hard psychologically because, whichever way you are playing, you have to deal with a steep gradient.
“Hopefully, though, this will be the last season anybody has to play on it because the club are moving to a new stadium.”
In it for long haul
City’s loyal supporters will travel 7,990.2 miles, spend 147.4 hours on the road and shell out £1,504.12 on fuel if they use their cars to watch all the club’s League Two away matches this season.
Research from Citigate Dewe Rogerson nestled in our inbox this week, detailing the cost incurred in time and money for City’s travelling army of fans to follow their team.
For anybody interested, meanwhile, from the top four divisions in England, Premier League outfit Aston Villa will travel the fewest miles (4,397.4), and Plymouth Argyle (11,068) the most if they are to attend all their team’s away fixtures.
Parslow sets early pac e
FORMER two-time Press Player of the Year winner Dan Parslow is the early leader of this season’s contest.
Parslow, who took the honours in 2009 and 2011, has shot to the top of the standings after back-to-back man-of-the-match displays against Wycombe and Morecambe.
Behind him in the ratings for the 3-1 home defeat to Wycombe were skipper Chris Smith and Jon Challinor, who, as our second and third highest-marked players, picked up two points and one point respectively.
In the 2-2 draw at Morecambe, Danny Blanchett (two) and Jonathan Smith (one) took the other points.
Parslow also heads the first Press Player of the Month contest of the season, meanwhile, having also collected the two bonus points on offer for the player who polled most man-of-the-match votes from visitors to our website after the Morecambe trip.
That honour was shared by Paddy McLaughlin and Jason Walker for the Wycombe game.
To be in with a chance of presenting the August Player of the Month with his prize – a framed photograph – on the pitch before a City home game, register your man-of-the-match votes from today’s game at Barnet. Alternatively, you can also tweet your selections @daveflettpress .
The Press Player of the Year latest standings (not including Player of the Month bonus points): Parslow 6, C Smith 5, J Smith 3, Blanchett 2, Challinor 1, Coulson 1.
The Press Player of the Month standings: Parslow 8, C Smith 5, J Smith 5, Blanchett 2, Challinor 1, Coulson 1, McLaughlin 1, Walker 1.
Goals: Chambers 1, Coulson 1, C Smith 1, Walker 1.
Assists: Parslow 2, J Smith 2.
Bad boys: Doig 1 yellow card; Ingham 1 yellow; J Smith 1 yellow.