RECALLING REDS: Former Aston Villa and Liverpool player Dean Saunders’ introduction

Ryan Richefond  Picture by James Boardman
Ryan Richefond Picture by James Boardman

Former Crawley Town player Ryan Richefond is lifting the lid after he suffered the setback of being released from the professional game.

The midfielder made limited appearances for Reds after securing a one-year deal in 2014 after progressing through the club’s youth ranks.

The 19-year-old recalls his time at Crawley fondly and is still close to many former and current players as he refuses to give up on his dream.

Richefond is writing a series of columns for us on life after Reds on snippets from the past at Crawley.

After the Boxing Day game, away to Leyton Orient, last season; John Gregory left indefinitely for heart surgery. I’m happy to see him back on TV every now and then looking well.

It was a weird time for us as players as even during his final training session the day after our 4-1 loss, no inkling had been given as to the manager’s situation. We came out, did a light session in preparation for the game the next day and went home.

The first I, and the majority of the team, heard about it was through Twitter. We all began speculating about how the new manager (former Aston Villa, Derby County and Liverpool player Dean Saunders) would play and what he would be like. I Googled him to try and get a bit more of an insight into his background and personality.

A squad meeting had been called at the hotel on the morning of the game. We all sat in the conference room waiting for the new manager to make his entrance. As he did so, any nerves or tension in the room was banished with his light-hearted banter and team talk; in which he proceeded to explain why he and other strikers are paid the most as ‘we’ve got the movement, creativity and can score’.

Whilst midfielders are strikers who can’t score and centre backs are just ‘meatheads’. Considering he met us just four hours before the game, we played well against an organised Colchester United team, earning a point.

Due to us playing a crowded festive fixture list, we were given the next two days off. Great I thought, we’ve only just met him and now won’t see him until Wednesday!

Come Wednesday morning he was in his office with the rest of the backroom staff as I walked in. When training at Oakwood Football Club, the players used both the home and away dressing rooms to prevent overcrowding.

A lot of players will go and see the physio or have breakfast at the club in the mornings to prepare themselves for the day ahead. I remained in the changing room with five of the other young players chatting about a game we saw over the weekend.

Gavin Tomlin then came jogging in, he told us that there was a meeting and it had been going for five minutes already.

In a panic we legged it round to the bar where the meeting was taking place. I followed Gav in apologising timidly before sinking in the nearest chair to the door. The others came bundling in behind me.

‘Stop! What you doing? You’re late,’ Saunders said glaring in our direction. He carried on, ‘No it’s not good enough. Go get changed and go home’.

I prayed that if I just sunk a little lower in my chair and avoided eye contact I may just get away with it. The other lads stood frozen in the doorway.

The room erupted with laughter. The Gaffa had set it all up. Safe to say, there were a few pairs of underwear that needed changing that day.

What a way to introduce yourself to the club!