Iron man Wilcox undaunted by challenge of saving York

Russ Wilcox with chairman Jason McGill and assistant manager Steve Torpey.  Picture: Mark Comer
Russ Wilcox with chairman Jason McGill and assistant manager Steve Torpey. Picture: Mark Comer
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IN terms of vital statistics last year, York City and Russ Wilcox’s old club Scunthorpe United did not exactly do things by halves.

Hemsworth-born Wilcox, unveiled as Nigel Worthington’s replacement at Bootham Crescent yesterday, orchestrated an outstanding 28-match unbeaten run in all competitions in his maiden foray in management at Glanford Park to clinch promotion to League One.

York also made their divisional rivals in League Two sit up and take notice in 2013-14 on the back of a 17-match league run without defeat from January 28 to the end of the regular season before narrowly losing out in the play-offs to Fleetwood Town.

The current numbers game does not stack up so well for the third-from-bottom Minstermen, who boast just one win in their 12 league games so far this season – a sole victory in 17 matches taking into account play-off and cup games.

A bit of Wilcox’s magic from last season certainly would not go amiss, although the man himself is downplaying expectations. But not by much.

Wilcox, who arrived in York just a week on from being harshly sacked by Scunthorpe, a decision which lead to footballing luminaries such as Jeff Stelling to vent their spleen, said: “That Scunthorpe run was once in a lifetime. It was amazing.

“You step into the job and you want to hit the road running and we certainly did that.

“Hopefully, we can get this back on track at York. I would take half of that 28-game run at the moment just to move us forward and back up the league and away from the danger zone.

“If we can do that quickly, you never know what is going to happen. You only have to look at last season.”

The school of hard knocks that is frontline manager has invariably marked down October as a particularly bloodthirsty month in terms of culling football bosses over many years.

Regardless of that, Wilcox had the sympathy of countless figures in the game after being axed by Iron so soon after taking the club up, harsh even in the transitory world of management.

The fact that he has returned to the dug-out so soon somewhere is something that many will feel was the least he deserved and Wilcox is eager to concentrate on the here and now and pen his next management chapter at York.

His predecessor effusively vouched for his credentials, with York chairman Jason McGill admitting he canvassed the thoughts of Worthington regarding Wilcox and received supportive feedback.

Adamant he is over his exit from Scunthorpe, Wilcox said: “Yes, because I am York City manager. That is where we are now. You deal with situations and that is what I have done. I am at York now, I cannot wait to get started.”

Wilcox will not be short of a familiar face alongside him in the dug-out at York, having played with assistant-manager Steve Torpey at Scunthorpe.

Defender John McCombe, who hails from Wilcox’s home village of South Elmsall near Pontefract, is another he knows well.

And Wilcox is the first to admit he will be relying on Torpey’s input during the early weeks at Bootham Crescent. Wilcox added: “I know Steve really well from my Scunthorpe days so hopefully we can work as a team to push this club forward.

“First and foremost, I need to assess the squad. I will be leaning heavily on Steve for that.”