Huddersfield v Birmingham: Lawrence sessions pay off for Scannell

Sean Scannell.
Sean Scannell.
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Thanks to the legendary status that six years with Bradford City earned him at Valley Parade, Jamie Lawrence is unlikely to win any popularity contests in Huddersfield.

Football rivalry is like that, with stirring feats in the colours of one club likely to draw scorn from supporters of a bitter rival.

In Lawrence’s case, however, maybe that should change with Town fans owing the former flying winger grateful thanks for the role he has played in the rave reviews that Sean Scannell is enjoying this season.

The 24-year-old has been a revelation for the Terriers after adding strength and consistency to the undoubted talent that had previously only been seen in glimpses at the John Smith’s 
Stadium.

And Scannell, a free transfer arrival from Crystal Palace in the summer of 2012, puts much of that improvement down to a summer being put through his paces by former Bradford wideman Lawrence.

“I knew this was a big season for me at Huddersfield,” said the born-and-bred Londoner when speaking to The Yorkshire Post at Town’s Canalside training complex.

“My first season at Huddersfield had been, while nowhere near as good as this, decent all the same. Simon Grayson was manager and I felt things went well. But then he left and Mark Robins came in.

“I still played for the rest of that season, but then last year was very different.

“I was put aside. I was on the bench, but I felt like he had no trust in me or belief.

“It felt like a confidence killer. I was going into games thinking that if I tried something and it didn’t come off then I would be out again. That is a difficult position to be in.

“But because I liked it at Huddersfield, I was determined to give myself the best chance of doing well when this season came around. Which is why I went to see Jamie in the summer.

“A lot of the lads from the area who play in the League go to Jamie in the summer, just to make sure they are in good shape when they go back to their clubs for pre-season.”

Lawrence, a former Jamaica international with 42 caps to his name, played for eight different clubs in all four English divisions.

A move into non-League and then management followed but it was his decision to set up the Jamie Lawrence Academy eight years ago – and, specifically, start to offer a summer training camp for professionals and semi-professionals – that has so helped Scannell.

“Jamie is a machine,” said the Town winger about Lawrence, who he first met through elder brother – and former Southend United striker – Damian. “A complete machine.

“He is a great motivator, someone who never lets you quit. There are times when you want to, believe me, but Jamie just doesn’t let you.

“You can be on your last legs and have 20 yards or whatever to go. But Jamie somehow gets 40 out of you. He just has this knack of being able to challenge you into giving more.

“A typical session will last from 11am to 4pm. There is football and keep-ball, it isn’t just running. There is a bit of everything, including those who lose matches or whatever having to do forfeits.

“The training is constant. The warm-ups are as tough as most normal fitness sessions. At first, it was so hard. I won’t lie to you about that. It was the hardest thing I had ever done and Jamie was like a sergeant major.

“But I got through it and this season I feel the fittest I have ever felt in my life. And that has helped me so much when playing for Huddersfield Town. It has made such a difference to my game, not just in terms of fitness but also I feel mentally stronger.”

Scannell’s scintillating form for Huddersfield has led to calls for the wideman to be called up to the Republic of Ireland senior squad after previously playing for the Under-21s and B-team.

It has also earned a new contract to keep him at Town until the summer of 2017, replacing the existing deal that was due to run out next summer.

“The new contract was a big thing for me,” he said. “I feel so settled at Huddersfield so it was great to be able to agree something.

“Moving from Palace was such a big decision for me at the time. I had only ever lived in London or Croydon, really.

“As a real city boy, I wasn’t sure what moving would be like. At first, it did take some getting used to – even if all I’d done really was move a train ride away. It wasn’t as if I lived on the other side of the world.

“But I soon got over that and feel really settled. It is still nice, though, to have the gaffer here. He is from London so it is good to have someone like that around.”

Discussions about the capital are far from being the only thing that Scannell has to be grateful to Chris Powell for, as the winger readily admits.

“The gaffer has been brilliant for me,” he said. “I’d done all the fitness work in the summer, going along to Jamie’s sessions in Wandsworth and also a little gym in Croydon.

“It meant I felt good coming back up here for pre-season. I still didn’t play the first game (under Robins) but then the gaffer 
arrived and gave me my chance.

“All that fitness work in London meant I felt ready to take that chance after spending most of last season on the bench.

“I also knew the gaffer believed in me and that made me want to justify his faith. Which I hope is what I have done.

“The new contract just topped everything off. Not that it has made any difference to me, though. I want to continue playing like my contract is running out in the summer and I have to earn a new one.”