Triads And Lambing

Ben Fox
Ben Fox

Chelsea legend: Mick Fillery

What connects the Chinese Triads and lambing on Dartmoor? Well, it turns out, Mick Fillery. A man who once played for a football team in Hong Kong, owned by members of the Chinese criminal class, is now settled on Dartmoor, helping to run Chagford’s local football team.

The team talks in Hong Kong consisted of being incentivised with a ‘100 dollar’ to win (Mick affected his best Chinese accent at this point), and the pre-match meal consisted of special fried rice takeaway, but he is not a man who is easily phased.

In fact, in a career that has consisted of playing in front of the infamous West Ham crowd of the 80’s, playing for gangsters in Asia and indescribable injuries galore, it was the fact that he had to compete against farming duties for his players’ attention while coaching at Chagford that got him most animated.

Mick played for the likes of Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers (being the former’s Player of the Year in 1982), alongside people that he would affectionately describe as ‘nutters’. So, hearing that players wouldn’t be available for training because it was lambing season, came as a bit of a shock. Mick described it as something that he would need to ‘adjust to’, that being the most diplomatic use of language during our whole chat.

A London boy through-and-through, Mick isn’t a man to mince his words. When asked how the more amateur lifestyle of his players affects the preparation of the team before a Saturday match, he quite simply explained that it’s not easy to prepare your back four when they’re all at parents evening!

He gleefully explained how he has recently had to use an outfield player in goal, because his first two choices were both unavailable. Luckily, he described, they still won 8-0 because the other team were unusually rubbish they couldn’t even put a goal past a midfielder.

He loves his coaching but the injuries from his long playing days catch up with him at points. After being unable to resist joining in with the five-a-side training, he spends the next two or three days putting his body back together.

All joking aside, Mick was very complimentary about the talent coming through the ranks at Chagford: “We have a young lad, Franky Sheppard, who’s a damn good player. Another young lad, who has just come to us, is Jack Skilton. He’s only 16 and he’s a good player.

“We’ve got some good young lads coming through. The older lads are playing well and are helping the younger boys coming through. Our great coach Duncan Vincent has got a good squad of players there.”

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