Gregor Rioch on life 'outside my comfort zone' at Wigan Athletic

Having stepped up from Head of Academy to help Wigan Athletic pull off the greatest of Great Escapes against all the odds, many in Gregor Rioch’s shoes may have been tempted to push for a full-time ‘promotion’.

Friday, 9th July 2021, 1:31 pm
Gregor Rioch celebrating Latics' Great Escape at Hull

The man in question, however, could not put his cue back in the rack fast enough!

“Absolutely not, 100 per cent, I’ve done my bit!” laughed the 46-year-old, whose dad Bruce managed Latics between 2000-01.

“Tongue in cheek, at the time, I did ask if I could go on furlough instead, but that wasn’t allowed!

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“So I had to see it through and, on a more serious note, I’m extremely proud to have been a part of what was something really special.

“But the Academy staff will be sliding back into our usual roles, and I’m doing that with a big smile on my face.

“It’s a big relief to be able to do that, because I never asked for it.

“When you’re chasing something... that was something I was never doing. And to be honest I was a little bit outside my comfort zone.

“It was a great learning curve, though, I’ve experienced some fantastic things from it, and especially the final chapter was the greatest one of all.

“Hopefully it will stand me in good stead to being a better person and batter academy manager for this football club moving forward.

“And it wasn’t just me – there were several others who stepped up from their roles into more senior positions with the first team.

“Everybody had the bit between their teeth and a sheer determination that I have never seen before.”

Rioch admits the whole experience was a massive eye-opener for him and everyone else involved

“To be honest, the sort of work ethic you have to have as an academy manager – with the daytime programme, the evening programme, weekends and everything else – has never been a problem for me,” he said.

“I think it was the other things that take most out of you, the responsibilities you’re taking on, and you really feel you’ve got the weight of the world on your shoulders.

“But full credit to the academy staff for the way they took things on at such a difficult time for everyone concerned.

“I remember once in the stages, leaving for a week and wondering if the thing would fall apart... but that’s a measure of your leadership, if you can’t leave them with autonomy or stuff.

“And of course there was no need to worry, because everything was in such good hands.

“The team behind me at the academy, every single one of them, have been absolutely terrific, and we're all looking forward t getting back to normal now.”

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