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In at the deep end


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In at the deep end

<!--url{0}-->The new season is upon us, with the 2014/15 campaign starting to take shape.

Here at Sky Sports we will look to take you to the very heart of the Football League over the coming months, with our Spotlight features intended to give you a greater insight into the clubs and players that keep us on the edge of our seats.

We hope to bring you the views and thoughts of a representative from each of the 72 teams over the course of the season, with those involved asked to give their take on the division they compete in, the club that pays their wages and those we should all be keeping an eye on.

Notts County’s Haydn Hollis is next into the hot-seat, with the Magpies defender taking time out to discuss remarkable survival bids and captaincy pride with Chris Burton.

On a personal level, 2014 has been a pretty good year, hasn’t it?

Yes. First of all, relegation last year, surviving that, and then, personally, I have played every minute so far this season, so long may that continue.


Best side faced: Tough one. I don’t want to sound over-confident, but I don’t think anyone has really troubled us. It’s probably got to be Bristol City, but I didn’t think anyone really troubled us.

Player of the Year so far: Roy Carroll has come in and done brilliantly. For me, I’d probably go for Hayden Mullins. Playing alongside him, he’s been a perfect match for me, someone I look up to.

Best characters in the dressing room: Roy Carroll is one of them, he’s still a bit crazy! It’s hard to pick out one because we’ve got such a good group of lads. I have been at the club a while now and I don’t think we’ve had a changing room like this, with so many good lads. Everyone has different characters, but we’re very close.

The gaffer: The thing he says to us is that sometimes you do have off days. The gaffer, every day he just wants you to give it your all. We do that. You can see from him on the sidelines that he gives us everything and all he asks for is that we give it him back. He’s very passionate and he’s very passionate about the club.

What have you taken from those experiences towards the end of last season, because you were thrown in the deep end, weren’t you?

You haven’t really got time to think about it, to be honest. I think we were 10 points adrift when I got thrown in. I scored a few goals to help us along the way and you look back on it and it was a very big achievement.

Was it a case of playing without fear, as people had written you off and you were able to just go out and express yourselves?

I think credit for that has to go to the manager and his assistant. They have come in and with the group they had, they changed the mentality of the group. They couldn’t bring in their own players, they had what was there and they did an absolutely fantastic job. Credit to them and the lads for digging in and putting in the performances.

You must be proud to have played your part in that, because it was a remarkable achievement wasn’t it – given where you were?

Massive. As I said, helping the team with a few goals as well. I don’t think I had scored a goal before! It was a massive achievement looking back on it, but at the time you can’t really think about anything because you just want to get your points on the board. You never know what’s going to happen.

I take it that, as a group, there was a lot of talk over the summer about the need to make sure that, having gone through that and survived it, you don’t let it happen again?

It’s a completely different group this year. The lads have come in and asked questions, ‘How did you pull it off?’ and all that. But as much as I enjoyed the last game of the season and the celebrations after it, I never want to be put in that situation again.

I take it you are confident that won’t happen, you’ve made a steady start this year, haven’t you?

Yes. Like I say, there have been massive changes and the gaffer has brought his own people in. The group this year is very, very close and we would run through brick walls for each other out there, so I don’t think there is a chance of that happening again. But you never know, do you.

You’ve got a good mix now haven’t you, the experience of the likes of Roy Carroll and Hayden Mullins and then a few young lads as well?

I think in the last few games, I’ve been the oldest in the back four. I don’t think we’ve had anyone older than 21, and you don’t see that very often. The likes of Alan Smith, Roy Carroll, Gary Jones, Hayden Mullins, you need people like that. Again, credit to the gaffer because he’s brought the right people in, absolutely brilliant people that we can look up to and structure your game around them.

As one of the younger ones, you must have been delighted to take the armband recently against Oldham?

It was a massive honour for me. I captained the club at youth team level and reserve level, so it was a completely different experience out there. I see it as a massive achievement as well, getting the armband for the first team at such a young age. Hopefully that does inspire the younger lads coming through. They can see what I’ve done and hopefully one of them can grab the armband.

Did you know it was coming or did the gaffer drop it on you late as a surprise?

He just threw it on me at 1.30. He just said, ‘Go and lead the lads out there’. It didn’t change my game much, though, to be honest. We’ve got a team of leaders, whether you have got the armband or not. We’re all very close and a tight group this year.

It was a great show of faith from the manager wasn’t it, showing that he is prepared to look past age and experience and reward those who are deserving of the role?

I can’t thank him enough for it. It’s my home-town club. I have always been a leader in a way, for the youth teams and the reserves, but coming into the first team, it’s a massive honour. I thank the gaffer for giving me that opportunity.

Given how quickly everything has happened for you in the last few months, what are your targets now?

Personally, for me, I just want to play every game this season. I don’t want to look too far ahead, but I think I’ve made a good start. We have got the best defensive record in the league at the minute, so if we can keep that going then… Just for me, I’ll try and play every game and see what happens from there. But I don’t want to look too far ahead because you never know what is around the corner in football.

You’ve got to keep your feet on the ground, haven’t you, because earning the recognition is only half the job, staying in there is the hard part?

Exactly. There are so many players and people out there, but you have got to go and achieve. You are only halfway there.

But it’s an exciting time at the moment for you, the club and Nottingham, as the new City of Football, it’s a great time to be involved in everything?

Yeah, massive. It’s my home-town club so it’s an honour to be involved with Notts County at this time.
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nice to see his replies to the questions, i do think its a good interview but i cant help but feel some of the questions could have been better.

Reading between the lines speaks volumes.

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