In the first re-launched edition of the Imps fanzine Deranged Ferret we met Imps full back Bradley Wood for a chat. To promote our second issue which will be available next Saturday we’re bringing you the full interview with Bradley here online. If you haven’t read it and you like it why not seek us out on Saturday and get issue two, where we meet keeper Paul Farman amongst other things!
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to achieve when I initially interviewed Bradley Wood for this brand new DF. I like him as a player, strong and reliable with a great attitude, but that wouldn’t make a good interview. Maybe his slightly controversial comments about Liam Hearn going to Barrow made me think there would be some juice I could pick up on. I’m not really sure and as a writer it’s important to know where you want to end when writing a piece. You can’t take a journey without knowing where you’re going to, and the same applies here. However once I’d finished chatting to Brad I knew where I wanted the piece to go. I want fans to see that Brad the player might be a bit special, but Brad the bloke is just like you and me. He claims to tell it how it is, but instead of being a Katie Hopkins style ‘tell it like it is’ he is measured and fair when he speaks. He knows the right and wrong things to say, and although he won’t shy away from the bad stuff, he’s always very honest and reasoned. Anyway you didn’t read this piece to listen to me bang on did you? No. Off we go then.
Bradley Wood is one of those players that you like from the very first time you see him. I remember the first time I saw him in action, he clattered a winger in a solid but fair challenge and then set off down the wing in true Mark Bailey style. The similarity between Mark Bailey and Bradley Wood is uncanny. They’re both up and down full backs, they’d both run through walls for their team and they’re both nice blokes. Mind you Bradley has something Bailey doesn’t have: three player of the year awards won in one campaign. It’s something he’s very proud of.
“Winning those awards, it felt great to know that my hard work was getting recognition. I loved last season. Enjoyed working hard and playing football. First time I can say that for a few years now and to be voted player of the year by 3 different sources was incredible. The lads all congratulated me and were spot on. Great group of men, which a few wouldn’t have been far away for the prizes.”
It might have been a great group of men, but one man in particular seemed to bring the players together. Success by some is measured by league position, but by this writer success could also be measured by progress and the outgoing manager oversaw a period of progress. He clearly had an influence on Brad as well.
“Moysey understood me. He knew how to get the best out of me. It’s always great when you’re wanted too. He bought me from Alfreton so I was clearly someone he wanted as a player. I just hope I repaid him.”
I don’t think there’s any doubt that Brad did him proud, but what was it Chris had that made him special to the players?
He respected the lads. In the changing room the lads knew Moysey’s door was always open for anything and he was a genuine top guy. In my seven years as a pro he’s the best gaffer I’ve had.”
There’s no doubt that Chris was the catalyst for a group of players battling at the right end of the table, despite falling away late on. I was interested to know if anyone stood out as a talented player in the City ranks. The fans and media saw Brad as the best player we had last season, it interested me to see who he thought was talented.
“There are many lads in the squad with different talents. Rheady is the best target man that I’ve lined up with, 9 times out of 10 you can guarantee he will win a header or hold the ball up. There’s plenty of talent at Lincoln it’s just playing to everyone’s individual asset to get the best out of the player.”
I got the impression that this answer was more genuine than an attempt to avoid naming individual team mates for praise. Part of me hoped it was because the players might get to read DF and might even submit to an interview with me!
Brad really came to the fore in the wake of Liam Hearn’s departure from the club to go on loan to Barrow. He summed up in an interview how many of the players felt, and although his remarks may have seemed inflammatory they only echoed how a number of fans actually felt. I was interested to know if this caused any friction on Liam’s return.
“To be fair to Liam he came back and was fine with the lads etc but you could tell he wasn’t himself. I got on well with Liam at Grimsby such a shame it ended the way it did as he is a good goal scorer.”
Brad may tell it how it is, but he isn’t controversial for the sake of it. Liam has gone and yet the knives are not out. Telling it like it is doesn’t always means you have to be undiplomatic. I was beginning to understand there’s more to Bradley Wood than the ‘heart on sleeve’ and ‘never say die’ attitude he has on the pitch. He’s an emotionally intelligent and well spoken man who understands the impact of the things he says. I wasn’t going to get any quotes that could cause trouble and I respect that in a player. I thought I’d fish (pun intended) a little harder for some anti Grimsby stuff, I knew he’d had a bad time when he left and I wondered how he saw it.
“I signed for Grimsby when they were in the football league before relegation. My deal was a 4 year contract and if I started 120 games it triggered an extra year. The more appearances I played the more money I was on. I was 1 game away from extending my deal for another year and I fully knew they knew this. They offered me a reduced contract on basically half my wages as they couldn’t justify a 21 year old being on the money I was on and I rejected it as it was poor and went to Alfreton.”
I knew from some Town fans that he’d been on a decent deal, but even so the way the Cods went about it seemed unfair, especially for a player who would never let
“I’m very patriotic so representing my country was a very proud moment for me and my family. Just signing the national anthem before a game makes hair on the back of your neck stand up. I loved it. It’s up there with the best moments of my career.”
I was interested in the mention of his family. Those who are on the Lincoln City banter site will know that his other half is very prominent on there, and it’s no secret that he is a dedicated family man with very strong family values. I wondered how he felt about some of the stuff on banter, and how Loren reacted to things on there as well.
“Loren is very outspoken and tries to interact with all fans. It’s not a case of her opinion is the only one that matters. She’s learnt that there are people out there who like me and people who don’t. Football is a game of opinions and at the moment I’m liked more than disliked. That can all change. I’m visible on social media as I like interacting with fans as I’m just a normal person like everyone else. I’m down to earth. I’m sure it has an effect on people when there being either slated or praised as football can be a confidence game at stages.”
It was fascinating that chatting about a proud moment like England got a shorter response than chatting about his family. I’d always known he was a family man, and when he talks about them it becomes very obvious what drives him. It’s the same thing that drives me to get up and go to work: family. Not all professional footballers have family as a grounding in their life, but for Brad it seems to be a priority and that makes him all the more likeable and down to earth.
Last season wasn’t all roses and sunshine for the versatile full back though. A red card against Tranmere left him gutted at the prospect of letting the lads down, and then in the final game of the season he became a light snack for Cheltenham thug Kyle Storer.
“When I got sent off I was gutted mate. I try and do my best for the team week in week out. I thought the lads were spot on that day and earned a point but last few minutes let it go. Afterwards I just felt it had happened and I had to get up and get on with it.”
“Against Cheltenham, he was shielding the ball out of play and I closed him down. He fell down and dragged me down with him. I tried to get up and could feel something on the back of my arm/shoulder like a pinch mark. Then I noticed he was clinching on with his mouth. There was a bit of handbags with the other players but I told the ref and everyone involved that he bit me. I don’t mind the physical part of the game at all, but not biting!!!”
Throughout my talk with Bradley I was impressed by his honesty and how down to earth he was. Even when talking about being bitten he was reasonable, and the dejection at his Tranmere sending off was clear for all to see.
Time and space is running out on me here, so I just wanted a few words on Danny Cowley, Clive Nates and where his career goes from here.
On Danny Cowley: “I’ve met the gaffer once (this interview was done on June 14th) and he seems to be driven to do well and progress which is a good asset to have. He seems to have his own method which has bought him success so I hope that continues here.”
On Clive Nates: “I’ve met Clive once at a fans forum. He seemed a real genuine nice guy who has a lot of knowledge about the game. He comes across as someone who, if he wants something to happen then he is driven for it to work. In football that is great as we can all go the same way and get this football club back where it belongs which is the football league.”
Finally I asked him about his Lincoln City career. With three player of the season awards in one campaign he is rapidly becoming a fans favourite, and in my household he is already up there with Mark Bailey, Peter Gain and Simon Yeo as a firm favourite.
“I’m happy to stay here and finish my career here as long as the management want me. Never ever been so happy playing football. I love the way the club treat my family too. That’s the main thing!”
I don’t think it’s any surprise that the well being of his family comes in as important as the quality of his football. I like that in Bradley Wood, he has values that are in line with most average blokes, he just puts bread on the table a different way. He is far removed from the controversial ‘tell it like it is’ figure some have him down as though. He’s honest but he won’t speak out of turn. He’s aware how his actions are viewed by people, from comments in an interview to red cards on the pitch. I can tell this isn’t just a job to him, he is committed to helping get us back where we belong. I believe another season like the last one will see him a very important cog in the upcoming Cowley’s campaign.
DF would like to thank Bradley Wood for taking the time to answer questions for us. Top man.