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Head To Head With Steve Diggin

When your manager gives you the nickname of the “non-league Messi”, then you know that
you must have something pretty special. The Saints fans certainly think that in Steve
Diggin, we do.
His goal against Gloucester City was his 40th in Brackley colours. Less than a quarter into
his third season with the club, that’s some goal scoring record to be proud of, but he’s well
accustomed to scoring goals at this level. Before coming to Brackley he spent four seasons
at local rivals Corby Town. Two of those seasons were in the Southern Premier before the
side won the title and then finished sixth in its first season at the higher level. In that time
“Diggs” managed to score regularly, hitting 18 league goals and then 25 in the league in the
title-winning season, and continuing to score in the club’s Conference seasons. It was no
surprise that Jon Brady wanted to bring him to Brackley, and no surprise that he scored
goals… again.
It started with a substitute appearance against Bedford Town at SJP, and it started with a
goal; and when his first start came, against Redditch that too delivered a goal. All in all, his
first season in red and white saw 19 goals. Knowing that he could score at Conference level,
the step up didn’t affect him (or the team) one bit and another 15 were bagged. With six
already this term, the self-imposed target of 25 for the season is by no means unrealistic.
Talking to the man himself, it’s clear that he only really cares about two things: playing
football and scoring goals. I’m sure there are other things, of course, but the impression is
very much that he lives for match days. I was surprised to hear, however, that he didn’t
start out as a striker at all.
“I was at Aston Villa as a kid, as a trainee, from when I was really young, but I was a central
midfielder. I wasn’t the biggest, and I’m still not, so I think my size went against me and
they let me go,” he explained. He went to Cogenhoe and had a fantastic time, scored goals
and made his first team debut at just 16. “I actually played up front with Darren [Collins]
on a few occasions,” he recalled, and Elliott [Sandy} was in the team as well. I think I came
on for Elliott for my debut in fact.”
I ask him about his game, the way he plays and his own idols. “I’ve got a job to do and
that’s to score, simple as that really,” he says. “I like to play on the shoulder of the last
defender and get in behind the defence, but there’s no real way that I play. Just to score as
many as I can.” As a Chelsea fan he singles out Gianfranco Zola as the man he looked up to,
and then there’s that Messi-esque nickname. “It was Jon that said it,” he says, “and I’ve
had a bit of stick from the lads about it ever since.”
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According to Jon it was because Diggs can create a goal from out of nothing, and the strike at Gloucester showed exactly that – one touch, a turn away from the defender and hammered home. His own favourite goal, however, is probably no surprise. I suggest that the supporters would say it was his strike at Worcester last season, and he agrees. It was one of two on the night and you can see in Diggs’ goal scoring record that two and even three in a game is not uncommon. In fact, in the 2007/08 season there were two hat-tricks and a brace against the Saints in a 2-2 draw and another in a 2-0 win, and another two the season after. It’s a surprise then that the three versus Stalybridge was his first for the Saints. Given that he’s prone to scoring in spells, I ask if it’s frustrating to have been in and out of the side, given the number of options there are up front at Brackley now. “If we’re away we often play one up front, and I’m not a target man. Of course I want to play every week, but it is a squad game these days. I’d like to play more, of course, but I expect not to play every game, given the way we often play. The most important thing is the result.” As for future targets, it’s to get promotion for starters and to play as high up the pyramid as possible. “We’ve a great chance of going one better this season,” he says, “and with the team we have, the strikers and the wide men creating, that’s our aim.” With one Brackley match ball already on his mantelpiece, don’t bet against there being more hat-tricks, more games and plenty more goals from this man this season. Diggin… The Stats Previous clubs: Cogenhoe & Corby Town Joined Brackley: at the start of the 2011/12 season Debut: as a substitute 20 August 2011 v Bedford Town, Southern Premier Division First goal: 20 August 2011 v Bedford Town, Southern Premier Division Firrst start: 1 October 2011 v Redditch United (scored), Southern Premier Division Most goals in a game: 3 – 14 September 2013 v Stalybridge Celtic, Conference North Games played for Brackley: 88 (39 as a sub) Goals scored for Brackley: 40 (7 as a sub) Longest sequence of games started: 13, from 1 October - 2 November 2011 (5 goals scored) Longest goal scoring sequence: 3 games in a row (4 goals), from 28 January - 21 February 2012


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