Scott Houghton Interview.

Scott Houghton was born on October 22nd, 1971 in Hitchin.  He was spotted as a schoolboy by Arsenal at 11 years of age but chose to sign for their deadly rivals Tottenham Hotspur, who were managed by David Pleat who sent him to the National School Of Excellence at Lilleshall for two years. He had England schools trials and played from U15 up to U20 levels, last games playing in the World Youth Cup competition in Portugal in 1991 in which he played in every game. He made over 50 appearances in all these representative games, a quite remarkable record. 

Scott spoke of his time at Spurs, "I played in the 1990 FA Youth Cup Final in which we defeated Middlesbrough ( 3-2 on agg with the games being 2-1 and 1-1. )  John Lyle had been Technical Advisor  to Terry Venables at Spurs during 1989-90 and took over at Ipswich Town in 1990 and he took me on loan and I had a 8 game spell there and scored a goal."  Ipswich seemingly wanted to sign him but Spurs were not willing to let him go.  There was some game time for the wide man in 1991-2.  "I was in the Spurs first team squad and made  14 appearances one of which was against Manchester United."

Other loan spells were spent at Cambridge, Charlton and Gillingham.  "I did my hamstring in at Cambridge and was out for 3 weeks just playing the one reserve game.  I played 6 times at Charlton and 3 times at Gillingham and there was another hamstring problem there in a game after 15 minutes. There was always such terrific competition for places as it was at White Hart Lane but there was another blow - Doug Livermore and Ray Clemence weren't keen on me and when Ossie Ardiles  took over that was it."

There was an insight into a bit of a problem that was to haunt him at various times throughout his time in football at certain times during his career - drink.  " Pre -seasons I'd go away on holiday and put on a stone and half.  I'd sometimes go on 6 or 7 day benders."  He was eventually allowed to leave Spurs and Luton Town, managed by David Pleat, signed in 1993 for a reported £25,000 transfer fee.  But a mis-quoted article in a national newspaper ruined his time there and his boss would not heed his pleas of innocence, "I was stitched up and the paper said the exact opposite to what I had said .  I stressed that I whole heartedly did not say that but Pleat would not listen. On hearing of Walsall's interest I said Walsall? Where the f'ck is Walsall?!  I found out it was in the West Midlands so not too far to go." 

It was a strange next few weeks for Scott  as the events unfolded, "I played in 3 pre-season friendlies for Walsall against Halesowen, Leicester and Kidderminster but was recalled by Luton. I actually played in Luton's first two games of the season.  My dad, on hearing of their interest, was delighted as he was a big Wolves fan and for him Kenny Hibbitt was a legend" He was signed on the same day as Colin Gibson to bolster Walsall's squad for that 1994-5 season however it coincided with Kenny Hibbitt's sacking at Walsall. Paul Taylor and Kevin Wilson were put in temporary charge until Chris Nicholl officially took over.

Scott was so impressed with everything about his move to Bescot. "The atmosphere around the place was fantastic.  Everyone got on so well even the players wives all got on with each other. The fans were fantastic to me. My mum and dad came to as many games as they could home and away to support me.  For the first time in years I was falling back in love with playing football.  I loved the quality of football at Walsall.  Paul Taylor built a super squad for very little money. They didn't seem like a fourth division side at all to me on joining. I'd had a fantastic pre-season. It was a bit frustrating that I couldn't play in the Football League Cup games  against West Ham as I was cup tied."  He played in all the other games and provided an insight into how he let his guard down just before the season's end!

"At Scarborough I scored an absolute 'scuffer' of a goal in our 2-1 win but the night before the Bury game there was a lack of discipline by me.  I had a bit of a skinful in the hotel snooker room with Marshy and Bob the bus driver.  I was in there till around 5 or 6am on the Guinness!"  

Then came an absolute amazing testimony to manager regarding that season and what he had achieved, "The gaffer was the glue.  He really got the togetherness and the will to win.  He was the soul of the club at the time and he invigorated us all and if it hadn't have been for him we wouldn't have been promoted and that I have no doubt.  He stopped me going to the pub all the time and saved my career.  For that I will always be grateful."

Playing wise his second season was pretty good too and as he observed, "We had a good run towards the end of that season. My two year contract was up and I went in for talks with Paul Taylor. There was only a rise of £25 on the table and I made my case that I had a very young family to support and a mortgage.  I said I'm not a greedy person  but I could no longer afford to stay so I thought sod it."

Peterborough came in for me and I went to have a chat with their manager Barry Fry and told him of the clubs offer.  His reply was 'they're taking the piss.  I'll pay you proper money.'  I signed for him but I hope Walsall fans don't see me as some kind of Judas. I would have loved to have stayed at Walsall.  After a few months at Peterborough I slipped into my old bad ways and went on a 3 or 4 day bender. I went in to see Baz and told him of the state I was in. He already knew and said no one else would touch me with a barge pole so he packed me off to Southend and got £100,000 for me."

There were further stop offs in his career at Leyton Orient, Halifax and Stevenage. "After football I didn't know what to do next. I saw dad and he got me fixed up with him working on building sites for a while to get some money in.  Then I decided to join the police force and have been working for them for 18 years.  A sort of pay-back to society.  I had a God-given talent playing football only for it to be wasted most of the time. I was hot headed and I under achieved. I would never have called myself a Premiership quality  player, more of a Championship type of player but blew the chances I had."

Scott paid tribute to all the work ISSA have done in their part of looking after and supporting his old boss Chris Nicholl and was really appreciative of that and also acknowledged the  initiative  to feed NHS workers with the mobile van.  He is really up for visiting the fans in the Railway Club one day and connecting  again and even hinted of playing in a charity game or something. Now that would be a sight - Scottie Houghton putting on his boots again and dashing down the wing! 

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