Steve Bruce warns Sunderland stars of culture shock at Burnley

18 September 2009 09:53
Bruce used to clean the Turf Moor changing rooms during his days as an aspiring schoolboy footballer and so he knows more than most that they will be a world away from the facilities his players enjoy on Wearside.

"It's a bit much when you've got to get changed in the corridor because there's not enough room," Bruce said ahead of his visit to Lancashire.

Sunderland Football Club: Fixtures 2009/2010"I don't think it has changed and I don't think it would change. I used to clean it when I was a kid.

"I went down there between 11 and 14. I had four years there. Burnley used to be a big influence up here, but I was turned away when I was 14 on schoolboy forms. I used to clean that changing room, so if there are any dirty marks there or anything like that, they're nothing to do with me!

"It's part and parcel of the game. One thing that Sir Alex asked of the LMA was that there should be a recommended size of dressing room because if you look at it, there will be 18 or 19 players at least in a squad and then Premier League clubs will have at least ten staff, with your doctors, physios and coaches.

"So you need to get everybody stripped and I would doubt that there are 28 pegs in there that's for sure. But when you go out there on the pitch they have 11 players who have done remarkably well and a manager that has done the same. I think the vast majority of my players will know what to expect.

"They've got it really good here. It just doesn't get any better. We've got the best of facilities. I've just had lunch in our canteen and it's like a five-star hotel. The only problem is that I'm getting fatter by the day! The season started and I was in the fridge! But everything is here, I've sat that from day one and when you show people around the training ground, they can tell it's magnificent. The club can take a huge pride in that.

"You can play on the ethos if you like; I did it at Wigan too. Your players on the pitch still have to go out and do it. It doesn't matter how bad the dressing rooms are. In Wimbledon's case for example, yes it was a horrible poky dressing room but that didn't stop them from beating you. They had some decent players who played to a system, and the same goes for Burnley, for Wigan. In its own way, that built a spirit, and that could have been a problem here."

The former Manchester United captain will head towards Burnley with an extra incentive to do well at Turf Moor on Saturday because the Lancashire club rejected him when he was teenager.

"I was playing with Wallsend Boys' Club and one of the Burnley scouts came and took me down there but that didn't work out," Bruce added. "I was on schoolboy forms but wasn't offered terms and I was devastated.

"Amazingly, the manager at the time, Joe Brown, went on to become the chief scout at Man United. Even more amazingly, he didn't recognise the little skinny kid from the North-East he had let go, although I did remind him believe me. I was the one he had turfed out.

"Myself and Peter Beardsley played in the same team and went everywhere. Me and him were the only ones not to get picked up because we were too small. We were late developers. Peter came on the train with me to Gillingham, and they didn't even want him there.

"I had a job lined up in the shipyards at Swan Hunters. I went in for a week's work experience and my cousin had got me a job to be an apprentice plumber. I was about to start when Peter Kirkley, who had taken me to Burnley and who still runs Wallsend Boys' Club, then took me to Gillingham. They took me on.

"That sense of rejection has always stayed with me. At Gillingham, I used to have to get the bus. There were two of us, I used to have to sweep the terraces, clean the boots, wash the kits, the lot. I didn't get home until 7 o'clock at night, but it does give you grounding and a little bit of discipline, and an understanding of the value of hard work. That will stay with me forever.

"Here now, the kids are ruined. They've got the best of pitches and don't do any jobs. They have the best food, the best of everything. And if you're not careful, it can create the other side, which is where they think they've made it before they have. Sometimes, that can be a bit of a problem.

"If you go to South America, you would find it's still a bit primitive so it gives people a fire in their belly to achieve something. But to get better as a club, you have to have the better facilities and that's been proved often enough. But you have to hope that grounding stays with people.

"There are 1,500 professionals in this country and probably only 200 in the PL which creates all this publicity. That means that the vast majority are in the lower leagues and I take my hat off to them.

"It's not a long career and they play to make sure they can pay their mortgage and have a decent house. It's not all glamour down there that's for sure.

"I know what it was like; I was down there for seven or eight years before I got my chance. We've got one here in Michael Turner.

"Once he got the chance to play in the Premier League he thrived in it, and there are plenty of others who are itching to do that.

"Burnley have given hope to everybody. Wade Elliott started at Bashley and then went to Bournemouth. I should have took the kid."


Source: Telegraph

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