NOT many people can say that they have had the likes of Bill Shankly, Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King for company.
Scarborough Athletic’s straight-talking manager Steve Kittrick can count himself among the exceptions.
A pub in the East Coast town has quotations from the aforesaid trio of icons on its walls, alongside the catchphrase that has become synonymous with Kittrick: ‘It is what it is’.
The glorious reality for Scarborough is that the club are back enjoying some warm days in the seaside sunshine again, thanks in no small part to the work of vastly-experienced non-league boss Kittrick, some loyal patrons who have stuck with the club through some tough times and some half-decent players too.
After presiding over promotion from the Evo-Stik First Division North last season, former Guiseley, AFC Telford and Ossett Town chief Kittrick and his Seadogs side are sitting top of the Premier Division, playing in front of healthy average crowds of 1,217 at the Flamingo Land Stadium.
In the process Scarborough are making an early pitch for the National League North, a level with which Kittrick is certainly well acquainted.
He said: “When you are winning games it is a good place to be and the town is with you.
“The biggest compliment I have been paid is that I went into a pub in town and there were quotes from Bill Shankly, Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King and then one saying, ‘Steve Kittrick says ‘It is what it is’. That took my breath away and it is for everyone to see who goes for a beer in that pub.
“That is from a supporter who owns a pub and comes to watch us week-in, week-out. I am humbled by it, it is incredible.”
Kittrick’s time at the club has been eventful since his apppointment in January 2016 when Scarborough were in danger of relegation from the Evo-Stik League.
It started with keeping them up in 2015-16 and being losing finalists in the Doodson Cup. The following season the club reached the First Division North play-offs in a campaign that saw well-respected chairman David Holland sadly pass.
The Seadogs subsequently secured a cherished promotion last term, somewhat fittingly in the season when they returned to the town after a 10-year exile 17 miles down the road in Bridlington.
The club’s journey continues apace and represents something of which their esteemed former chairman would have been immensely proud.
Kittrick, whose side host Bamber Bridge tomorrow, said: “David sold me the dream. He was such a nice man who put his heart and soul into everything. Everyone said what a top fellow he was.
“This is a proper football club with history and we have plans to build a new stand on the other side of the ground. Our support is fantastic; we took 200 in the week to Stalybridge.
“I am quite positive and we sat down before the start of the season and said we are looking to get promotion. But there’s no massive pressure to win the league, probably not as much as at South Shields, who have publicly said that they want to be in the Football League.
“We are on a journey to get the ground right and the feel-good feeling in the town. The biggest thing for me is that coming to Scarborough I see young kids and youths who have previously not had any (sporting) identity.
“Now the team is back in the town after being away for 10 years and it has.”