Nicky Adams with a look back on the season
We caught up with Nicky Adams this week before the first team squad headed off for their summer break to get his thoughts on the 2016/17 season.
“We’ve obviously had a week or so to reflect on the Exeter game now,” he said. “It’s still gutting. I’ve just travelled up with a few of the boys and we were talking about how close we were to doing it.
“I’ve not really been on social media because I’ve been spending time with my kids, but the reaction and messages we’ve all had from the fans have been unbelievable. They’re proud of us and that’s all we can ask. We’ve given them everything and we went out with a real fight.
“Both play-off games were end-to-end and could have gone either way. Unfortunately it didn’t go our way, but I think it will make us stronger for next season. We were quite a new group but I definitely think it will make us stronger."
“Going out in the way we did was probably the worst way it could have happened," he commented. "I said it after the game, but you’ve got to say fair play to their kid who got the goal. He’s got a memory there he’ll never forget. I’ve scored those goals myself and sometimes they can go in row Z. Fortunately for them it went into the top corner, but the first thing we had to do was congratulate Exeter.
“We were gutted. Over the two legs it was a really even game. In the home game it could have been 5-3 to them or 5-3 to us. We were 2-0 down in the away game but we were still thinking we had a chance.
"When we got back in it I thought ‘here we go’. I really do think if it had gone to extra time we would have got the win, because they'd have been thinking that it was the fourth time we’d done that to them this season. It wasn’t to be, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, so we’ll come back next year and give it another good go. Nothing changes from us."
“I’ve just had my meeting with the gaffer and nothing has changed from him either," he told us. "He’s a positive guy and he knows what he wants from us for this football club. He’s done a great job for us and I think we can go one better next year.
“In terms of how long the play-off defeat hangs over you, I think everyone is different. I’m still thinking about it now and going over and over it in my head. After a few weeks everyone will have had a holiday and we’ll then be looking forward to pre-season.
"When you get back in for pre-season all you can think about is how knackered you are! Everyone is different but the sooner we can put it to bed and get back into the swing of things the better for everyone.
“For me, I’ll probably still have it in there and I’ll remember how much it hurt. I’ll probably use that and try and turn it into a positive. I know I don’t want that feeling again. I believe we’ll be in that mix again and hopefully we can turn what happened to us this season into a good thing for us, so we can use it and get the win next time."
And another factor which made the exit from the play-offs feel even worse was the fact that United had occupied the top three for long periods of time ahead of the Christmas period.
“Until Christmas and January we were in the top three," he said. "It was still quite close though. I think everyone thinks when you’re in the top three that you’re miles away from the play-off teams, but we weren’t, we were just ahead of the other teams.
"We knew there were strong teams in this league and there are probably three or four strong teams who didn’t even get into the play-offs.
“The blip after Christmas was because of an accumulation of things that happened to us. We picked up injuries to key players at the wrong times and at one time we had four or five players injured. When you take that out of any team, including the top teams in the world, it’s going to hurt you.
“We obviously lost Charlie [Wyke] as well and he was in a real vein of form. If you lose that, it’s going to dent you. Everyone thought we’d gone and we wouldn’t even get into the play-offs, but the one thing we had all the way through was a good set of boys."
"We knew ability wise it would take care of itself and we got over the line in the end," he commented. "We went close in the play-offs, not close enough, but if we can take the positive things from this season and do them again I think the fans are in for a really good season again next time.
“I hope the fans enjoyed it last year because some of the atmospheres they created for us were unbelievable. The 3-3 game against Exeter here - wow - I’ll never forget it when that third goal went in. The roof nearly came off, and we want more nights like that here next season.
“The fans have been right behind us all season so hopefully if we can do it on the pitch, and we keep giving them positive results and giving our all, they’ll continue to come. This is a big club and we want the fans to follow our journey."
Having joined the club during pre-season last year we wondered if he still felt he'd made the right choice, having had other options on the table at the time.
“This has been a good move for me," he insisted. "When I came here people were asking me why I’d moved agai,n because I’d had a few clubs in a short space of time. Things happen in football, you can’t say what happens behind the scenes, but I left Northampton on a good note and it wasn’t like I left in bad circumstances.
"It was just unfortunate that our manager had done unbelievably well with us. He deserved his chance to go to Sheffield United. The new manager came in and wanted to run a different ship.
“As soon as I got the chance to come here with the gaffer I was delighted. I had offers from League One but when you meet someone and believe what they say, that’s a big part of your decision, especially for me.
"I know he believes in me and I think everyone knows he’s getting the best out of me, so long may that continue."
“I’m delighted to be here and I love playing at this club," he told us. "The awards I got at the end of the season were unbelievable and I can’t thank everyone enough. It’s been unbelievable, then I was sat with Hazard and Lukaku at the PFA Awards and I was telling them - ‘I’m Nicky Adams from League Two’.
“I’ve made a lot of memories I won’t forget and I want more of them, not just for myself but for my team mates. They all deserve it and I wouldn’t get the plaudits I have done this season without them. I know I’ve said it before and it’s probably boring, but it’s true.
“I want to go one better next year, it's as simple as that. I’ve said this before as well but I’d take absoltuely no personal accolades at all if it meant getting a winners medal or a promotion medal for everyone.
"That’s the way I am because you don’t forget those memories. I can’t thank everyone enough and I think everyone who knows me will know I play with a smile on my face, I always do. I just want to be entertaining and hopefully I can do that again next season.”
Part two of this interview will appear on the official site on Saturday morning.
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