Those who have worked closely with Nick Anderton over the course of the past few months will know exactly why he’s been selected as club captain by manager Chris Beech for the 2020/21 campaign.
Described by just about everybody as a fantastic professional, the 24-year-old shows maturity beyond his years with an exemplary attitude both on and off the pitch.
That leadership potential will now be utilised to help guide the dressing room, and it’s a challenge he’s more than looking forward to.
“It’s a massive honour,” he told us shortly after the appointment had been made official. “I’m just delighted. The gaffer told me last week that he wants me to lead the team forward as skipper and it is a big responsibility, but it’s one I’m really looking forward to taking on.
“Since I came to the club in January I’ve tried to be a leader from the back, and there’s a few lads in the squad that the gaffer could have picked to be captain.
“It won’t just be me who will act as a skipper on the pitch on a Saturday, we’ve got a few lads in the dressing room with those qualities and we’ll all have to play our part in taking us up the table.”
“I’m looking forward to the added responsibility,” he confirmed. “In football there comes a time where you’re seen as a more experienced pro, and you have to take responsibility on and off the pitch, whether you’re captain or not.
“I feel like it’s at a stage in my career where it’s going to do me good and I’ll hopefully thrive as a player because of it as well.
“My age isn’t a factor. I think everybody looks at me and thinks I’m older than 24, and the lads give me a bit of stick for that, but I suppose I am fairly young in terms of becoming a captain. Like I say, I feel like it’s the right time for me to take something like this on.”
With a presence needing to be felt on and off the pitch, he said: “All through last year I was happy to be vocal on the pitch and in the dressing room, and I suppose the gaffer has seen that in me.
“With the other lads at the back especially, I always try and help in whatever way I can. I’ve had experience of playing at a lower level, as well as playing at an academy and having to drop down to non-league, and I feel like you always learn the hard way.
“I want to pass my experience onto young lads like Max [Hunt] for instance. He’s been at an academy but played in non-league, so he’s in a similar position that I was in just a few years ago.”
On what the manager has said he wants to see from the role, he told us: “The gaffer has told me to do the things I’ve already been doing since I came in in January. He wants me to vocal and get behind the lads, but also lead by how I play on the pitch as well.
“Another big part of it is our relationship with the community as a group of players. It’s important the fans feel involved and that they can see what we’re trying to do. The supporters are a massive part of this club and we want to do what we can to get as many of them involved as we can.
“Obviously when we’re allowed to do things like go back into schools and things like that, we’ll be out there as much as we can. The Save Our Stan campaign has been a good example of how we can help, we’ve all supported him and the fans can get the badge on their new kits as well, which is a huge thing for the community.”
With a return to full contact training scheduled for Monday, he also confirmed that the feeling is good as the lads get themselves back into full swing.
“We’re obviously only doing non-contact training at the moment, because of the guidelines we have to follow,” he said. “We’re training in two separate groups, but the feeling in the squad is good.
“It’s great to be back in training. It’s been a long time coming, I think it’s over four months since the Grimsby game was called off, but we’ve been keeping ourselves fit and ticking over, but it’s nice to finally be back involved and seeing the lads again.
“There’s obviously been a lot of uncertainty because we’ve let lads go and not announced any signings yet, but the signings are coming together and we’ve got a young group who are very hungry to succeed.
“We’ve got plenty of lads with something to prove in their career, and we all just want to work together to be successful next season.”
Speaking more about the craziness of the lockdown period, he told us: “I think it’ll have been a very difficult period for a lot of players who were out of contract.
“Personally, I knew I had a year left on my contract, so it hasn’t been as tough. I think if you were out of contract, especially with not knowing what’s going on and when you might be back in training, it would be very difficult.
“They’ll have been in a position where they don’t know if they’ll get another contract and whether they’ll get paid and things like that, so that will have been mentally tough for a lot of people at all different levels.
“Knowing that the games are starting in September will give everyone a bit of a lift and it’s a date we can all work towards now.”
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