David Preece: Kevin Ball slaughtered my Paisley signing-on tie but Simon Grayson’s making better first impression

Simon Grayson has gone for the relaxed  look
Simon Grayson has gone for the relaxed look
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Anyone has ever experienced the joy of being driven around in any car that I’ve owned will tell you it’s an extension of my home. A kind of mobile annex or garage conversion on wheels.

Naturally for someone who has lived a traveller-like existence since I flew the nest, anything that has ever been deemed as an item you should never leave the house without, can be found in my car. And probably more.

Clothes are really what takes up most of my boot space. My car became a mobile wardrobe filled with enough clothes, shoes and underwear to make sure I was ready for any occasion.

More than anything though, it was a fear of making a bad first impression that drove me to being ready for anything. It might have also had something to do with the fact that I spent most of my days in shorts and t-shirt or a tracksuit that I rebelled against that.

I’ve never been one for to wear a tracksuit anyway. That comes from the theory that even though I was a footballer, I never wanted to look like one. That said, I’m not sure dressing like an extra from Miami Vice, as I would often do, did me any favours at all either but I made my made up I’d always rather be overdressed than underdressed.

My theory was that wherever you went, you never knew who you might meet and it was important to me that they took a positive impression of me away with them.

None more so than when I was signing for a new club. I can tell you exactly what I was wearing each time I put pen to paper. For example, when I signed my schoolboy forms on the pitch at Roker Park before a Tyne and Wear Derby, I was sporting navy blue Umbro manager’s trench coat which were quite popular in those days. And when it came to signing my full time contract with the club I wore a blood red blazer and a green paisley tie.

I’d picked up the blazer myself from Burton’s that day and was delighted with it. This was my big day. The first step on the rung of the ladder to stardom. I couldn’t have been any feeling better, right up to the point we bumped into Kevin Ball as we were going in and Bally took one look at me and said “are you signing for us then, or going for an interview for a job at Butlin’s?”.

I only wore it one more time after that and again, it didn’t miss Bally’s gaze as I walked through Steve Smelt’s physio room whilst he was getting treatment. The same joke. The same cackle. The same distraught feeling.

For my next move to Darlington, I was obviously now keen not to cause such a stir with my attire so I went safety first with a grey trousers, black shoes and a white short sleeved shirt. I might have looked like it was either my first day at school or an off-duty commercial airline pilot, but I gave little away to be critical of and steered clear of derision.

By the time I had moved to Silkeborg IF in Denmark I had just about got it right. I had gone through my executive hippy drug dealer look of oversized grey suit paired with sandals at Aberdeen. At Silkeborg I looked like I meant business. Grey suit and white shirt. It felt right and I felt I gave off the exact impression I wanted. Confident, relaxed (no tie) and after we’d won my on my debut, it was a full on the good first impression bingo card.

The best and most important first impression is that of the first game of course and although I’m unaware of how Simon Grayson has been initially perceived in his previous jobs, this seems to be his Silkeborg.

Regardless of the misgivings of many us about the club’s prospects this season, Grayson has rolled up to the Stadium of Light, chucked on a tracksuit and a pair of Copas, rolled his sleeves up and dived headfirst into the job. The result has been performances built in that image.

The ethos with which he works is reflected in his side’s commitment and endeavour and the bleakness of shipping eight goals without reply to SPFL opposition has been erased.

Sunderland fans will always give a manager the opportunity to impress them and if you look around you, you’ll see some Robert De Niro expressions of downturned mouths with heads nodding. Suitably impressed with a smattering of hope for the future.

It’s three competitive games into a season, but, if I’m not wrong, it’s the best return after three games since 1998/99 and we finished with 105 points that season. Asking too much again?