Interview: Lennie Curtis

After arriving in England with three successful years at Shamrock Rovers Lennie Curtis, or more specifically Jane Curtis, was keen to move to England to be reunited with family in Sheffield. Lennie arrived at United via Stalybridge in 1996 when boss Greg Fee snapped him up.

The future United legend soon found himself in a winning side. United went on a ten game unbeaten run following the signing so things were definitely on the up for both parties.

Missing out on promotion to Barrow by five points hurt and the move over to the Dr Martens Premier league proved a turning point.

At the end of the 2005/2006 season impsTALK hound Adam Upsall caught up with Lennie before an appearance for Wakefield-Emley and started by asking Lennie about the departure of Greg Fee and the arrival of, well, you know who….

Lennie Curtis – Greg had decided he had had enough and then of course that brought Steve in. Whatever people think of Steve, they either love him or hate him, there is no in between, but to be honest the club was on its arse.

Adam Upsall – It really was an unbelievable turn around, what where the key differences between Greg and Steve?

Greg was a good manager but what happened with Greg was he had been at Boston a few years and he had tried to make some changes in terms of finance and what have you and it didn’t quite happen. He could not get the players in he wanted to get and then got a bit frustrated, in addition he had pressure from his own job [outside of football].

Heeeeere’s Lennie

Then Steve came in and he was just a totally different type of guy altogether full of energy, bluster and passion or whatever you want to call it and just grabbed the club by the balls. He persuaded players to play for next to nothing so we got some good lads in: Matt Carmichael who scored a lot of goals, Ian Stringfellow. I mean Stringy did really, really well for us.

We also had the young lads coming through with the likes of David Norris. But that season the fantastic run from October right to the end and to finish second with the start we had.

AU – Towards the end of that season one of the highlights was of course the game at St Albans, Steve said at the time he was ‘gob smacked’ by the sight of the fans as you ran out, what was it like to play in front of that following?

For a few of us and especially Steve it clicked that we have got something here, look at the potential of the place. There we were at
St Albans and had taken over the place for the Quarter Final of the Trophy, we should have won the game, and if we did we fancied our chances of going all the way.

AU – You were no stranger to the injury room in April that year you had a month where you were put into hospital TWICE! Broken nose and then stitches in your face.

I remember we were 2-0 down at half time to Bath and I managed to get one back and then whacked Stanhope in the back of the head after we had gone 3-2 up. I just conked out, blood and my nose everywhere, missed the game the following week which was Bath away and we got battered.

AU: That summer though you had some changes with your job outside of football which took you, initially at least, away from York Street.

Yeah. I mean, I got promoted in the job which meant I had to be based in Leeds, so being 110 miles to Boston and with Steve seeing the potential that meant there were more demands there, I could have got away with once a week maybe but up to three times a week and then working up to 80 hours a week in the day job something had to give. I was desperate not to leave.

I went to Gainsborough, wish I never went, should never have done it in a million years, but with them obviously doing quite well at the time. However I knew they were nowhere near the size of club [as Boston] and I really agonised over it with Steve.

But then a month or a month and a half down the line Steve came knocking on the door again, so you know I just threw caution to the wind and managed to find a way around the job and came back.

AU – Got to have been one of your best decisions ever?

Oh yeah, great, great season. First three years at the club were fantastic. That season we never cracked under the pressure, we just
went out and won nearly every game.

AU – Then of course Grantham.

We’d played them the season before and beat them at home. That was a massive game and I remember scoring. They were going quite well in the league back then and, of course, the following year we had the game with 4,000 there. They scored early doors with a free kick so the pressure was on us but we came back. The stadium was electric that day.

AU – Do you get back to see Boston at all or any of the lads?

I have not been this season [05/06]. I went last season and I was overwhelmed with the reception I got, I thought I’d walk down and nobody would recognise me but I was flabbergasted at how many people remembered me. When I bumped into Steve he said: ‘You are still looking fit, do you fancy coming back?’ So I said ‘Nah I’m too old, as much as I’d love to!’

I mean the only lads who are there now I know are of course Paul Raynor, we used to travel together being in Sheffield and what have you. I know Jim Rodwell but not as well and of course Steve and John Blackwell. In terms of the lads playing really the last was Bazza, I kept in touch with Baz and Joby Gowshall as well. I see Richard Lucas now and again.

You want to keep in touch with more of them but you know you go your own way. One of the nicest memories is the fans, I mean I still get about 20 cards at Christmas from United fans. For me it’s a club that holds a lot of very good memories.

Massive thanks to Lennie for his time and Paul David Wakefield (Emley manager) for letting me near him! It was a real pleasure to chat to a face from United past, if you know any (or are one) get in touch and we can chew the fat.

Oh, and if you are interested WEmley drew 1-1 with AFC Telford after going down to 10 men, shame is that they ended up getting relegated on the last day of the season to the Unibond First Division.

Adam Upsall

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