Away From The Numbers

Stevie Ferguson Interview

Stevie Ferguson - Scottish Cup Player of the Round TrophyStevie In Action For WokingEast Fife FC #1AFTN FlagStevie At Woking TownStevie At Wimbledon AFC

In August of 2006, a fundraising event was held by East Fife Supporters Trust at the Wellesley Inn, the subject was "fans in football" and the guest speaker was Erik Samuelson, now acting chairman of the supporter owned club AFC Wimbledon. "The Wombles" are widely accepted as a direct continuation of the old Wimbledon FC, who had been stripped of all identity by their new owner Pete Winkelman. The pop music producer made a number of broken promises to worried Wimbledon fans before changing their teams name, badge, colours and moving the club to a different town altogether.

Winkelman had ripped the heart and identity out of a famous club in order to form his new club, Milton Keynes Dons. As always, the supporters were left behind to pick up the pieces, and after a heroic effort to save their club had fallen short of the mark, they wasted no time in drawing up plans to rebuild the club from scratch. One Wimbledon fan commented that he'd seen his team rise from non league football to the Premiership since he had supported them, "we will just have to do it all over again" he insisted!

Following the birth of AFC Wimbledon, they began a steady climb up the leagues, lifting five trophies and setting a British record for most consecutive unbeaten league games: (78 games from 26 February 2003 to 27 November 2004), AFC now find themselves only three promotions from a sensational return to league football, and after a sticky start this season they are very much back in the hunt to achieve promotion to the Conference South this year.

The much improved performances on the park have been helped by the arrival of a familiar face down Methil way, East Fife supporters will no doubt remember the lightning quick youngster who burst onto the scene at Bayview in 2000, Steve Ferguson has had a bit of a rollercoaster ride since he left Bayview for the bright lights of London six years ago.

Matthew "Igor" McLean spoke to the man himself to find out exactly what has been happening in his career, and if we'll ever see him in a black and gold jersey again one day!


First of all Steve, could you fill us in on your career since leaving Bayview?

I came down to Spurs in January 2001 under George Graham, I was here for about 2 years and in that time I was very close to breaking in to the team. I was on the first team bench a few times and things looked good. After Graham departed Glenn Hoddle took over and although we got off to a good start I felt I was dropping down in the pecking order. In my second full season I was trying to get out on loan, Motherwell came in for me and I spent four and a half months at Fir Park. My first game for them was actually against East Fife in the cup!

I went on to play 20-odd games for Well, playing at places like Ibrox and Parkhead, I did well but looking back I do feel that I could have done better. Motherwell wanted to sign me permanently but they had went into administration and the move broke down, I was unhappy at having to return to Spurs and shortly after I was struggling with a bad knee injury. I was told my contract would not be renewed and left the club by mutual agreement.

Stevie In Action For Woking
It was hard to find a club when at times I was hardly able to walk, after a while I started to train with Woking and ended up staying here for 3 years, which is a bit long looking back, the main problem being that I've been played as a winger more than my favoured center forward position which is where I'm playing now at Wimbledon.

So how did your move to AFC Wimbledon come about?

Things were going stale at Woking and I was told I could leave at the end of this season. I've came to AFC on an initial one month loan but hopefully things can be sorted out to make it a permanent move. I've enjoyed my last 5 games more than I've enjoyed the last three years and there is alot of ambition and quality at this club. Going part-time was a concern at first but a team-mate of mines runs a coaching business and I've been working with them since September coaching an under 14 side in the Sunday league. It's certainly something for the future, I'm ambitious and I still feel that I can play at a high level but coaching is something that could be long term, I'm already planning to go through my badges and we'll see what happens.

As you will know, AFC are a pretty unique club in many ways, being founded, owned and controlled by their fans, do you think they are an example of the way football clubs will have to operate in the future?

Stevie The Womble
It's hard to imagine Premiership or Championship clubs being able to operate this way at the moment, with the amount of money and wages involved, but for lower league and non league sides it seems like a really good way to operate, we have around three thousand fans at our games but they also help out in many other ways so it's not just about turning up on a Saturday, this really helps to drive the club forward and we want to get back to league football. It's something I'm glad to be part of and I want to help take the club forward.

Going back to East Fife you were just a youngster when you broke through, how did your move to Bayview come about?

I was playing for Musselburgh Windsor and doing well, a mate of mine had actually tipped someone off at East Fife to come and watch me, they did and I was invited to play in a youth game where I scored two goals. I played a few games for the reserves and managed to score in every one of them, the manager Rab Shannon offered me a deal and I ended up being top scorer in pre-season. I then went on to score 16 goals in 8 youth matches, I was soon given my chance in the first team, we were playing Albion Rovers. I came off the bench and played really well, winning a penalty in the process and was man of the match. The next game I got my first senior goal and went on to score 9 goals in 9 games, my last two came in a midweek game against Albion Rovers, there had been lots of transfer speculation that week and shortly after Spurs made their move and I was heading South.

You supported Rangers as a boy, they had expressed an interest at the time, do you ever wish you had went to Ibrox?

I always wanted to play for Rangers as a youngster but as you get older you realise that young home grown talent seldom breaks through at sides like Rangers, you never know what might have happened but I did end up playing at Ibrox in a Motherwell shirt! I think many of the bigger teams go for the easy option, bringing in foreign players instead of risking giving their own local boys a game, you can see how this has affected the national team and its something clubs should take note of sooner rather than later.

You will no doubt have played with some good players, who was the best player that you played alongside?

Teddy Sheringham had just come back to White Hart Lane at the time and he was the kind of player that would make you stand back in awe now and then, his approach, his lethal finishing and his all round play was a joy to watch. There were other top quality players at Spurs at that time such as Darren Anderton, Tim Sherwood, Gus Poyet, Sergei Rebrov and Robbie Keane, but in training I always felt like I held my own and didn't look at all out of place.

Those were your team mates, what about your opponents?

I played in many reserve games against top quality internationals like Bergkamp, Kanu, Wise and Gronkjaer, it is great for a young footballer to test himself against such players and it really helped my game, I always performed well and scored a few goals in the process.

Looking to the future, what are your ambitions?

I think any footballer wants to play at the highest level possible, and if they say they don't then they are lying. Because I was played out of position at Woking for so long I think that most people believe that I am a winger, but at Wimbledon the gaffer is playing me up front and I'm enjoying it. I scored my first goal at the weekend and hopefully it can be the first of many and I don't see any reason why we can't get promotion this season. I'd love to stay at the club next season if we go up, but I'm always looking to play at a higher level, as high as I possibly can.

Do you have any plans to move back to Scotland at any time? I know the fans at Bayview would love to have you back.

I can't say I've never thought about it but i've just bought a new house down here with my girlfriend and i'm pretty settled. I think if I was to move back up North it would have to be to play in the SPL, that's not being disrespectful to SFL clubs but it would be a big move for me to come back to Scotland and it would have to be the right one for my career. You can never say never though, who knows what the future might hold!

Thanks for taking time to talk to AFTN Steve, and hopefully there will be promotion parties at both East Fife and AFC Wimbledon come the end of the season!


AFTN'S STEVIE FERGUSON BIO:

Stevie joined East Fife in the summer of 2000 when Rab Shannon brought him to the Club from Musselburgh Windsor. Stevie made his first team debut for the club on July 15th in Dickie Gibb's testimonial match, scoring in the 3-2 defeat by Hibs, and he made his competitive first team debut on August 5th when he came on as a late sub in the 1-0 League win at Albion Rovers.

He made a couple more sub appearances in the coming weeks, but it was in the under 18 team that he made his mark at the club scoring 16 goals in 8 games from August 20th to October 8th. These 16 goals included two hat-tricks and four braces.

Unsurprisingly, Stevie then forced his way into the first team proper and scored his first goal for them in the 3-1 league win at home to Montrose on October 28th. 9 goals in 8 games (6 league and 2 cup) brought him to the attention of Tottenham Hotspur's David Pleat and Stevie left Bayview at Christmas to join the Londoners in January 2001 for an intial fee of around 100,000, but in a deal that could have been worth 250,000 to East Fife. Rangers and Manchester City were also rumoured to be chasing his signature.

Stevie In Action For Woking
Just before Stevie left he was awarded the Tennants Player of the Round trophy for his performance against Queens Park in the Scottish Cup, leaving the Fife on a real high.

It wasn't the happiest time for Stevie, but he made the odd appearance and found a place on the bench as well before picking up an injury.

Upon his return he was loaned out to Motherwell for the start of the 2002/2003 season and scored 2 goals in 21 appearances for the Steelmen, most of those appearances from the substitute's bench and ironically making his debut against East Fife in a CIS cup match.

Unable to sign him due to financial constraints, Stevie returned to Tottenham in the January transfer window and was released by Spurs on April 17th 2003.

Stevie then moved to Conference side Woking for the start of the 2003/2004 season and spent three and a half happy seasons there, notching up 122 competitive appearances for them and 20 goals.

In the January transfer window, Stevie joined high flying AFC Wimbledon and is scoring goals regularly for them. Hopefully this will see a return to Conference and then League football again pretty soon for Steve.