Exclusive Interview With Mark Stallard

Last updated : 21 July 2003 By
Stallard - "We Can't Play For 25 Mins And Get Away With It"
Your top scorer so far, are you pleased with the start we have made to the start of the season?

Not really no, we have not performed consistently well over the season so far and we are working hard to change that.
We are disappointed really, we have thrown alot of games away and if we had won those games we could be up in about 10th or 9th place, so really we are in a poor position.
Certainly we can't play well for last 25 minutes and get away with it like we did against Swindon, as we won't get as lucky next time.

Are you happy with your own form so far?
It has been patchy really, not really been at my best but I'm top scorer at the moment so that is pleasing. The team hasn't been playing as well as we would have liked, and we need to find that consistency and show it abit more.

You have played in midfield and behind the front 2, do you enjoy it there or are you better upfront?
It's an option to play me there, with the size of the squad we have at the moment people will be asked to play in an unfamiliar position. With injuries and lost of form, it was always likely to happen really. I think I have done ok there, and if it makes up the best shape for the side and we are winning, I can't really complain. I am a striker really, and scoring goals is my game but I'm happy to be doing a job for the team.

Having seen Danny Allsopp and Paul Heffernan in great form late on last season, did you fear for your place?
You always fear for your place, its good to have healthy competition and keep you on your toes. It's much better that way and it keeps you away from going into the "relaxed mode" and means you have to perform to your best at all times, because if you don't the manager has the players to bring in and he won't be afraid to drop you.

Looking back to last season, it was abit of a nightmare for you really, how did it feel to be out of the side for so long and after a good season the season before it must have been even more hurtful?
As any footballer will tell you, being injured is the most thing as you miss out on everything, the matches, the banter in training and all that.
It was awful last season, it was a long term injury that ended my season in October/November time although I kept coming back and playing, I was nowhere near my best and it was hard.
I worked hard over the summer to get back, and it is great to be playing again and scoring goals.

"Was Great To Play Infront Of 16,000 At Meadow Lane"
When Billy arrived at the club, what difference did he make?

He is a honest person, very straight forward and installed some confidence into us all. He got us playing well and working hard, there was a real sense of togetherness in the squad even when results were going against us. Once we got the win against Tranmere the confidence we already had was built on and we were unstoppable really in the run in.

You came back for the final game of last season in front of 16,000 fans at Meadow Lane, how did that feel for you?
Good, having been out for such a long time it was a big last 15 minutes for me. I really battled back to make it for that game against Huddersfield to prove to myself I was back fit again otherwise I would have been thinking all over the summer "has the injury gone now, am I fully fit again" so to get a runout was brilliant and with a full house and staying up as well, it was brilliant.

Touching back on this season again, the Northampton game a few weeks ago, did you ever think you weren't going to score after missing so many chances?
No, it was one of those games really where nothing goes right for you. We carved them open so many times, and yet we went in 0-0 at half time I really couldn't believe it. I kept going and eventually got the goal, and the same can be said of young Heff really. He missed a good chance, and went on to get the winner.

"It Was Such A Relief To Get That First Home Win"
Was it a massive relief to finally get that home win against Northampton, the first of the season?

Yeah of course, it was like a massive relief off everyones shoulders. When Northampton got level, we all thought that was it and it was another game we hadn't won at home, but Heff got the winner which was great.
You always want to win your home games, its when a majority of our fans see us in action and its important we get winning and our crowds would perhaps increase.

The Huddersfield game (at this point Stall's face drops!) it looked pretty bad to watch, so what was it like to play in?
Just awful, really awful. We just didn't get going at all, they were far quicker than us and got to 2nd balls all the time before us. But luckily we bounced back next game with a win, but at Huddersfield we cannot understand how so many people had an off day that day. We had a good following that day, and we let everyone down.

Did the players deserve the stick they got after that game?
Yeah of course, and we knew it would be coming after the game. It was bad, and we all know that, and there was no way anyone could defend themselves after that game and say "We were unlucky etc etc" we just have to hold our hands up and take it on the chin. You take the rough with the smooth, we take the applause when we are doing well, and you have to take it when you do badly.

Division 2 in general, which teams have impressed you most?
Wigan, both times we have played them they have been really strong and looked a good side. They have some quality players and deserve to be up there challenging, but they should be the amount of money they have spent. If you have the money in this league, you will go a long way, it's the same with Cardiff really.

"Keep Supporting Us And Keep Making Noise"
Who are the hardest opponents we have faced so far in your eyes?
Wigan and Cardiff really, they are both clubs who have quality all over the park. They have International players, and as I said before if you can spend what they have in this league, you will be up there and I expect those 2 clubs to be pushing for automatic promotion.

Who in the Notts squad for you has impressed most this season?
Bolly (Paul Bolland) and Fenno (Nick Fenton), they have both had good seasons so far. Nicky has been a rock at the back and played superbly all season, and Bolly has been strong in midfield and worked so hard, and he is also getting some goals now which is good.
Bolly is abit of a sicknote and its great he is getting a long run in the team, and he is scoring goals which he hasn't done before which is lifting himself and the side.

Finally, do you have a message for the Notts fans?
Keep supporting us, and keep believing in us. If they keep on making the noise, cheering us on and really getting behind us, the results will come. Just keep believing in us.