Massey ‘loved’ enthusiasm of Heaney but regrets exit
Given the recent whirlwind of success Truro City have had over the past 15 years, the achievements of the club during the 90s are sometimes overlooked, writes Gareth Davies.
Under the stewardship of Steve Massey and then Lee Cooper, South Western League glory was shrined upon Treyew Road on three separate occasions.
Massey led the club to their first league title of the decade during 1992-93 although he subsequently stepped down due to commitments outside of football. Nevertheless, he did manage Cornwall in the South West Counties Championship.
During the early millennium years, Massey had rekindled his love affair with domestic Cornish football and was manager of Truro’s arch rivals Falmouth Town. However, the lure of a return to City was too much to resist for Massey with the White Tigers now controlled by wealthy businessman Kevin Heaney.
“Before my second spell in charge of Truro, I had gone away and bought another holiday park in Devon,” Massey told the Voice, for the second part of an exclusive interview. “I had stepped down and Lee Cooper took over. In the 90s, Truro were the best team in Cornwall.
“I then took over Cornwall’s senior team in the old South West Counties Championship and did that for seven years. When the Truro job came up again I was at Falmouth and we had a great young side with players like Jake Ash, and Johnny Ludlam.
“Kevin Heaney and Chris Webb approached me and spoke to me about Truro. Webby introduced me to Kevin and said that league football was the ambition for Truro. I thought ‘here we go, I’ve heard all this before’ but I loved Kevin’s enthusiasm.
“He came to see me in Devon and said that he wanted to take Truro through the leagues and win the Vase. I thought that was brilliant and I was the man to lay the foundations.”
Although the relationship between manager and player seemed like a match made in heaven, cracks soon started to appear and Massey quit the club in early 2006 after a dispute with Heaney. “In the end, Kevin was too difficult to have a working relationship with,” Massey revealed. “He was a football guy and had Truro’s best interest’s at heart, but he did upset a lot of people. Our parting of ways was self-inflicted by myself though because Kevin wanted us to train twice a week.
“I told him that the South Western League was always won by a team that trains once a week. Even the good St Blazey team under Trevor Mewton didn’t train much because they were a good team and good players.
“It was around the festive period in 2005 and we started off a phone conversation very amicably before Kevin said that he had arranged training on a Thursday night at Liskeard.
“There was then a silence and Kevin explained that we couldn’t afford to not get promotion – even though we were second in the league and looking like we would.
“We knew there was a scrap with St Blazey for top spot, but second would have been good enough. Kevin was adamant that we weren’t fit enough and I just lost it with him.
“I asked him who was going to take training and he said if I didn’t take training, then Webby would. I told him that he didn’t need me anymore and that I would leave as this was the final straw.
“My ego said that he would call me in the morning, but he never did.”
After Massey’s departure, Truro did keep hold of second place and promotion to the Western League was achieved. For the 2006-07 season, under new boss Dave Leonard, Truro were promoted again and in the greatest day of the club’s history, then skipper Tom Smith lifted the FA Vase at Wembley after a 3-1 win over AFC Totton.
With that in mind, Massey was then asked if he had any regrets at not leading City out under Wembley’s brand-new arch?
“Regret? I would say it is a regret spelt out in capital letters,” he remarked, philosophically. “Doing well in the FA Vase was one of the reasons I went back to Truro under Kevin Heaney.
“To not be part of Truro’s day at Wembley is a massive regret, but I have huge respect for what the club achieved. Who would have thought that some of the people that were there when I first walked through the door over 15 years previously, like Morrish Truscott, would go to Wembley?
“For those involved, it will be memories that live for ever and nobody will ever forget Tom Smith (pictured left) lifting the trophy at Wembley.
“I signed Tom by pure fluke and sometimes as a manager, things work out for you. I was signing Stewart Yetton from Tiverton and I went to see Martyn Rogers. We had agreed a fee with Tiverton, but the caveat was that he couldn’t come to us until Tiverton went out of the FA Cup. That season, they had a run right through to the first round.
“It wasn’t until November that Stewart came to us and during my discussion with Martyn, I said that to play three at the back, I needed a left-footed centre-back.
“They were difficult to find and Martyn said that they had one in their reserves – a lad called Tommy Smith. Martyn said we could have him and he went straight into his debut a few days later against Penzance. Before the match, after the warm-up, one of my coaching staff came up to me and asked if he could have a word about Tommy. I was worried that he might have told me that we signed a dud, but it was the total opposite and I will always remember the words – ‘what a find’.
“The rest is history as they say and I feel proud that players that have became icons of the club, were people that I brought to the club. Of the 16 man squad that were involved for Truro at Wembley, I signed 11 of those players.”