Terras goal-scoring hero Lee Phillips talked to Ben Ashelford on Terras Podcast #10 here are the highlights. League-winning former manager Garry Hill, Club Captain and Mr Weymouth Ashley Wells, and Weymouth’s unofficial statsman Duncan Gardner also joined Ben, you can listen again here
BA: Lee you provided one of my first away match memories you provided the goal against Dagenham and Redbridge in the F.A Trophy in front of a bumper crowd, but how did that feel because you absolutely love the club don’t you?
LP: Absolutely yes, definitely. It is a massive club that played a big part in my career. I went there a bit low on confidence and met Fred Davis and Andy Mason who were a big part of my career, and I played in some good teams, scored a lot of goals and played in some really, really good games, like the Dagenham & Redbridge one. To be honest I had completely forgotten about that game until Ian Hutchinson spoke to me about and I got the old scrapbook out (that I’ve still got) and yes it was a brilliant game to be part of against a team that were flying at the time.
BA: So obviously you were a footballer but at one time you were in the amateur game of Rugby Union with teams like Bath, Harlequins and Saracens buzzing around you is that right?
LP: Yeah, I had a lot of offers and interest but at that time Rugby Union wasn’t a professional sport and the opportunity came up for me in the football world and I’ve been playing it ever since and, you know, I’ve had a good crack at it.
BA: At 15 years old you became the youngest ever player to play for Plymouth Argyle’s first team, that must have been so daunting for you?
LP: Yeah, I remember it really, really well. I was at training the day before and Neil Warnock and Mick Jones said to me how do you feel about being involved with the first team tomorrow and I was like “wow amazing” and I remember walking out on to the pitch and honestly, I’ve never been so scared. I don’t get scared at many things but I thought “I don’t feel right here, this is a bit out of my league”. It was daunting to go from the classroom to being on the pitch for a massive club but I just got onto the pitch and I just ran around, in those days I was an old school type centre forward and I ran around trying to get the ball, but it was very scary.
BA: There were a lot of managerial changes do you think that hampered your progress at Argyle?
LP: I loved my time at Plymouth but I do feel that I was let down a little bit, they started playing me on the wing and I broke my leg twice and came back too early, and I feel that I could have had a little bit more support and I lost a lot of confidence, a really big amount of confidence. When I got injured and was coming back, I just needed a shoulder to go to or an arm put around me and I don’t feel I got that at Plymouth and it affected me a lot and when I had the chance to go out on loan, speaking to Fred Davis on the phone it made me feel ten times bigger, and to get to Weymouth and see how big the club was and to play with players that I knew already it gave me such a big boost, confidence-wise, and I will always owe that to Weymouth and to Andy Mason and Fred Davis.
BA: You went out on loan to Newport and then you signed a three-year deal with Weymouth in 2001 and then you had the chance to join Aldershot two leagues above us and you decided to stay with the club.
LP: I had a word with the managers, I would have loved to have joined a massive club like Aldershot but I just felt that the time wasn’t right and so I stayed at Weymouth and absolutely loved it there, and then there was a change in management and one of my all-time favourite players came in, you know playing for Steve Claridge and playing upfront with him was phenomenal. Not many people can say that they’ve played upfront with the legend that is Steve Claridge and, you know, I’ve done that! Everything was going well, we just missed out on promotion, then he was off and then came the phone call with the opportunity to go to Exeter and that was another step in my career that was absolutely unbelievable.
BA: It seems that you didn’t want to leave Weymouth but you didn’t feel wanted anymore, is that right?
LP: Well, the new manager came in, Gary Johnson’s brother, I can’t remember his first name.
LP: Yeah, that’s the one and I just knew straight away that I wasn’t going to get on with him, and it wasn’t me being boisterous or big-headed I just knew that I wasn’t going to be able to play under him it was just one of those things and when the club got the phone-call from Exeter City and I had a chance to test myself at a higher level I knew it was time to leave. I absolutely loved my time at Weymouth I’d had an amazing time but because of the management situation, I just knew it was time to test myself a little bit higher.
BA: Can a manager make or break a player do you think?
LP: I think so, I’m assistant manager now at Saltash United with the manager Dane Bunney and your man-management skills need to be really, really good to get the best out of players and I’ve taken that on from working with the likes of Fred Davis, Alex Inglethorpe, Paul Buckle, Andy Mason and I’ve taken on bits from all of them to hopefully be a manager one day myself.
BA: Would Lee Phillips the manager pick Lee Phillips the player?
LP: Back in the day I definitely would, I never was amazingly technically gifted but I was always one, as I pass on to my players now, always wore my heart on my sleeve, always worked my socks off, 100% commitment every game.
BA: Do you still look out for Weymouth results and this is one that Weymouth fans will want to know do you check for Weymouth’s result before you check for Exeter?
LP: Good question. Whichever comes up on my twitter feed first, but I do still look to see how Mark and the team have done. There are 4 teams in my life really, Weymouth, Exeter, Man United, and Saltash United.
BA: Anything you’d like to say to Weymouth supporters and anybody else that’s tuned in.
LP: Hope I haven’t bored you too much and I hope that Terras Fans and Mark & the Team can get promoted when they can, it’s a fantastic club, keep supporting them and hopefully in the future we will see them flying up the leagues again.