An interview with Scott Wagstaff
Bradley Bowman speaks to the wing wizard about his career and life with the Addicks. It was always Scott Wagstaff’s aim to one day hear those words ‘we are offering you a professional contract’ and when he was called into the manager’s office back in December 2007 the Charlton manager at the time Alan Pardew had finally made Scott’s dreams come true. Scott was just an ordinary child growing up with his family in the village of Leybourne in Kent but he knew as a young boy what he wanted to do with his life. Scott explains: “As a youngster growing up you always want to become a footballer and I always said I wanted to play professionally. “I was just like any normal kid and I would always go over the road and play football every single day. “I used to go out on the field everyday with all my friends and we would have a kick-a-bout for ages.” It was this passion for football that got him recognised by some on-looking scouts in 1998. Managed by his father Kevin, Scott played with friends in a local 7-a-side side team and by the age of eight he was travelling up to Orpington to train with Charlton. His progression through the ranks was testament to the hard work that he put in to try and improve his game whilst listening to the advice given to him. He said: “I have been at Charlton since the age of eight.” “Going through the ranks was difficult because you constantly think that it might be this year you could be released and you think in the back of your head that you might need a backup plan. “I had Damien Matthews as my coach at the time and he was really good to me and gave me a lot of advice. We would have little meetings and discuss what I had done well and what I needed to improve on. “I also had Scott Carson as one of my mentors which was good. It was interesting to have a chat with him sometimes and get feedback about what it’s like to be a first team player. “It’s a good learning curve and you do learn a lot because the aim is that you follow in their footsteps and become a professional.” And this willingness to learn did pay off for Scott. He was named youth team captain and took the under 18’s to the quarter finals of the F.A youth cup. “Getting the captaincy of the youth team was a massive thing for me because as a youth team player that’s pretty much the best you can get. “We had a good little run in the cup which helped me because we had a few games at the Valley and a couple of other games at Upton Park and I think that helps you gain experience of playing at the bigger grounds.” When everything seemed to be going well for ‘Waggy’ (as his team-mates call him) his career took an even huger step in the direction towards his dreams. “I was in the changing rooms and Steve Gritley the academy director at the time came in and said that the manager wanted to see me. I went up to see him not knowing what was going to happen. “He (Alan Pardew) just said that they were going to offer me a professional contract and at the time it didn’t really sink in and I didn’t think much of it. “When I got home and told my mum, dad and all my friends and family it sort of sunk in that I had got a professional contract and I was over the moon with it and really delighted but I knew I had to keep impressing.” Struggling to break into the first team initially he went out on loan to Bournemouth and Northwich Victoria which in hindsight he looks back on as a positive thing at the time. Scott explains: “I wasn’t playing at Charlton and I wasn’t playing any games which was what I wanted to be doing. “I went out on loan to Bournemouth which was great experience for me personally and then I got the loan move to Northwich Victoria which in the back of my head I didn’t think was such a good move. “I thought because I went to Bournemouth and did really well there that I could play at that level and stay at that level. I went to Northwich and didn’t have the best of times there to start with but then I started to get into it. “However, I definitely think it helped me gain experience and play on regular basis which is what I needed back then.” Scott went on to be named Charlton’s young player of the year that season and his confidence was starting to grow. Wagstaff proudly adds: “It was obviously really good to get that award and it was a massive boost for me. “It gave me a lot of confidence and showed me that the manager and all the staff had a lot of faith in me and they could see that I was improving and doing well.” He had only made a handful of appearances for the first team up until then most notably being his debut against Barnsley in April 2008 but he always had the belief that he was going to progress even more. “There was never a part of me that thought I wasn’t going to make it. I always had in my head that I was going to stay playing football. I had the drive to make it at the top level and wanted to push on with Charlton.” However a year after he went on loan to Bournemouth he scored his first goal for Charlton in a win over Walsall in August 2009. Wagstaff went on to play 36 times for the Addicks that season scoring five goals and picked up the young player of the year award for a second time. Scott Minto is the only other player in the club’s history to have picked up the honour twice. This season he has been given the number seven shirt which seems to have pushed him on even more. He proudly sits as the second highest scorer so far after hitting the net six times. “At the start of the season I got given the number seven shirt which was a huge for me as it showed the manager has got a lot of faith in me and wants me to playing regularly. “We have started the season really well. I’ve scored six goals and set up a few goals as well which has been good for me. I’ve been playing which is the main thing because that’s what I want to be doing. “I’m one of the top goalscorers which is great and as a midfielder I think six goals is a good return so far. I’ve been really pleased with the start I’ve made and hopefully I can kick on now.” Another proud moment for Scott was this season when he reached 50 first team appearances for the club he has been at for 12 years. He said: “It’s obviously a massive achievement to make 50 appearances for such a big club like Charlton. I didn’t think I would make that many this early as I’m only 20. “It’s a massive club and I don’t think many people realise how big it is. We get eighteen thousand or more a week at home for a league one match and that is a very good return. “It’s a great achievement for me to be playing for such a big and well-known club.” With Scott now a Charlton regular it would be understandable to see him getting carried away with all the attention he gets but he keeps himself well grounded by spending time with his family and old school friends. He added: “I don’t think that I’m a celebrity. I just think of me as Scott and people around here just think of me as Scott. “There are some people that come to the door and ask for an autograph which is nice to see but I don’t feel any different, I just feel like a normal lad so don’t take it too seriously. “There were a few boys following me in Bluewater shopping centre once before. My friend told me they had been following me for the last ten minutes calling my name. He laughs: “It was quite weird because I didn’t know why they would want to do it.” And it’s his family that he thanks for getting him to where he is now in his Charlton career even though his dad who used to manage him as a boy still gives him an ear bashing when he does make a mistake. Kevin Wagstaff, 50, jokes: “I just usually say to him, why didn’t you do this? Why didn’t you do that? Why did you not shoot?” Scott laughs: “My dad always gives me stick after a game. If I have a bad game he will certainly let me know and make sure I know about it. “He tells me, you should have crossed there, done this, done that. I know when I have done something bad but he always has to tell me so I just take it on the chin. Scott added: “My family have supported me over the last eighteen years where I have been playing football. “They have supported me throughout, all my family, my mum and dad, brothers and sisters, granddads and nans. They have kicked me on and helped me out a great deal.” However, it would be Scott’s grandad who would be one of the most proud of his achievements at the Valley. Mother, Leigh Wagstaff, 46, explains: “My dad used to support Charlton when he was young. He died before Scott got chosen to go up to the academy. It would be a proud moment for him if he was still alive to see him where he is now.” With loving support at home it’s the fans that Wagstaff believes has made him feel settled in the Charlton first team. “You are always nervous when you are walking or running out into a game but over the past few years I have kind of controlled that as I’ve got used to playing regular in front of a lot of people. “There is no better feeling than walking out in front of the fans. It is the best feeling in the world. “The fans motivate you to have a good game and if you hear them chanting your name there is no greater feeling really.” Phil Parkinson has given the new number seven a platform to show his talent to League One again this season and Scott is full of praise for his manager. “I get on really well with Phil Parkinson and he has helped me so much in the year and a half that’s he has been here. “He gives me a lot of feedback whereas some managers will just leave you to think about the game yourself. “Last year I was in and out of the first team and when I wasn’t playing he would have little chats with me telling me what I have got to improve and work on. “It’s the same as this year and he is constantly giving me feedback trying to improve me all the time which I think really helps my game.” Scott like every footballer wants to play at the highest level he possibly can but hopes he can continue to show the fans and the country what he is capable of. “The main aim for me is making sure I play as high a level as I can for as long as I can. “I want to be playing in the Premiership and obviously if that’s with Charlton that would be excellent but at the moment I just want to go out there and enjoy it every week.” Charlton have been steadily picking up form of late and Scott’s future looks extremely promising. Here’s hoping the Leybourne based youngster can grab even bigger headlines in the seasons to come.
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