In the short time Christian Fox has managed Selby Town, he has overseen a huge transformation which at the time of writing has led to the club pushing for promotion in the play off places and in the final of the West Riding County Cup. I spoke to Christian to find out more about him and how he juggles running the club alongside his own business and busy family life.
Tell me a little about your time growing up, who did you support, and what made you get into football?
Manchester United FC are my team but I grew up in Middlesbrough watching them at the old Ayresome Park ground as my dad was a Middlesbrough FC fan. I played for Marton FC up in Middlesbrough who have a long standing reputation as one of the best junior clubs in the country who have produced lots of professional footballers. My team played against the then YCFC under 15’s who we beat 5-0 so they took a few of us on after that game and signed us up.
York City were obviously a big part of your footballing career, what was it like playing for a club like that?
I loved it. Like at every football club there are highs and lows. I joined YCFC as a 15 year old boy and learnt so much in my time there. I came through the old YTS scheme so we literally did everything from scrubbing toilets to cleaning the boots and stands so it gave me a grounding and discipline that was always going to help me in later life whether that be in football or not. As a pro I got to play against some of the best players of my generation so they were memorable times. The best players I played against included Joe Cole, Beckham, Keane, Scholes and Giggs. I had a really good season in my first season as a pro but unfortunately I ruptured my ACL and had to have a full reconstruction at 19 years old. I never really recovered to the same standard to be honest.
You were involved with the club throughout the difficult financial period and eventual drop from Division 3 into the Conference, what was it like as a player in that time?
Hard, we went a few months without getting paid and didn’t really know if the club would survive. The PFA helped and supported us. The supporters did a magnificent job in saving the club including the current chairman and its a great little club that I hope to see prosper in years to come. They should be in the football league and have the infrastructure to achieve that again.
How different would you say experiencing life at York City was compared to a non-league club such as Selby?
The main difference is that we were full time and trained every day. Player wise, there are some players at Selby Town FC that are better than some that I played with as full time professionals. But it’s that word, professional. Some players find it hard to adapt to the commitment and discipline needed of being a full time pro. We want to make Selby Town FC as professional as we can on and off the pitch. Some of our players have been unlucky to find themselves in non league and not playing professionally but there are lots of obstacles to ‘making it’ and it doesn’t always come down to ability.
What made you want to step into management?
I’ve always fancied it to be honest. If I’m not out coaching then I’m usually at home watching football.
The last few months have been a whirlwind for you and the club, how have you found the balance between your personal life, work life, and that of management of Selby Town?
Football has always been my life and probably always will be so I find it easy to manage the day to day running of the academy and that of the club. I have a very supportive family and wife which helps. We spend time as a family every Sunday as that is important to me and was the bargaining deal to taking the Selby job.
When you came to the club there were a lot of changes made to the team, how did you make the decision on who to bring in?
We already knew who we wanted to bring in when we got the job. We got most of the players we wanted which was very pleasing and the committee played a big part in supporting us to get those players. We had a philosophy and a vision for the club and we headhunted the players we saw that could fit into our style of play. Credit to the players as they work hard and take on board what we want to achieve.
What is your highlight of your time at Selby Town so far?
Probably the win against Tadcaster Albion FC in the county cup semi final. It was a great achievement for everyone involved to reach a final in our first season here.
As well as managing Selby Town, you also run the ‘All Star Football Academy’, tell me about that and how that came about?
We started All Star Football Academy in 2014 as we wanted to bridge the gap between grassroots teams and professional academies. We wanted to offer players extra training and also holiday camps to parents as a cheap, but healthy and active alternative to childcare during the school holidays. We are open to boys and girls of all ability levels and our programmes don’t interfere with our players grassroots commitments. We offer our players opportunities and experiences that we are very proud of which range from playing on professional team pitches, playing against professional academy teams and also stadium tours to some of the biggest stadiums in the country. Just this week we have been to Manchester City FC to look around their Etihad stadium and the training ground and academy. We got to see the first team training which was a great opportunity for our players.
The hopes for the club are promotion back into the NCEL Premier division. We want to play exciting football which in turn will attract more fans to the club.
The plans for the academy are to continue to roll out the franchise model which will see more All Star Football Academies opening up around the country. We welcome enquiries into that and people can see more here:
Hopefully with the links to Selby Town FC through the academy we will see our players make the journey through to the first team and become semi professional players earning money to play football.
Personally, I want to manage at the highest level I can.
If people want to find out more about All Star Football Academy where can they go?
Selby sessions website: