In all walks of football there are always players that excite you, get you on the edge of your seat, get your heart racing whenever they get the ball. The Ravens are fortunate to have a number of players who might fit these criteria, but perhaps Dan Simpson is the one that really gets the fans on the tip of their toes when he has the ball at his feet. He’s one of those players that you just can’t predict what they will do next, and thankfully, neither to the opposition.
Simpson has several tools in his kit. He’s incredible quick, his crossing can be exceptional and boy, can the man shoot. However, it would be fair to say that it’s been somewhat of a challenging season for Dan. With the emergence of Charlie Higgins, ‘Simmo’ has not always been first choice and has made nearly as many appearances off the bench as he has had starts.
In recent weeks however there are signs that his form is starting to flourish. Three goals in as many games during the last sequence of home fixtures at the Bowl have literally induced cries of ‘Wow!’ from the Ravens faithful. Each of those strikes (against, Ellesmere, Cheadle Town and Barnton) were absolute beauties and, if there were such a thing in the NWCFL, Goal of the Season contenders.
Naturally Simpson’s confidence is high at present, and Joe Reid and Steve Burns thought we’d indulge him in his second ‘favourite’ pastime of talking to our media team (which he hates by the way) ahead of this week’s bumper doubleheader.
FCIOM: Dan, you’re in a great vane of form at the moment, and you’ve become one of the Raven’s fans favourites. What is it that you think gets the supporters so excited when you’re on the pitch? Dan Simpson: I don’t know really. I am an out and out winger by nature, and players in that position are usually flamboyant and perhaps unpredictable so perhaps the fans expect the unexpected. I’m a left footer and my regular position has been on the left but I’m also comfortable playing off the right as an inside forward too. I think they see that I have pace, directness, and a trick or two up my sleeve too. Growing up I loved Ronaldo so I’ve always wanted to have that side to my game where I can express myself in that way.
FCIOM: Has there been a moment you’ve had with the fans this year which has stood out for you?
DS: The last few weeks have been special, but ultimately, for me, it’s the first home game (against Brocton). I think if we hadn’t had that support that night then perhaps we wouldn’t have come back to win. After Jack (McVey) scored the equaliser, I just remember the noise and atmosphere. We were all quite nervous that day, but that moment got us through. I also remember celebrating Furo’s last minute equaliser against Maine Road, again that was something that sticks out for me. It’s nice to give the fans those moments like that because in turn it gives us as players moments to remember too.
FCIOM: Do you have role models on and off the pitch that you try and base your game on?
DS: My footballing role models were two (Manchester) United players – Ronaldo and Rooney. I just loved the confidence they had in their ability and how early in their careers they both took criticism but didn’t let it affect the way they played. Outside of football I’ve always looked up to my parents. My mum was a runner which is possibly where I get my speed from!
FCIOM: In recent week’s your long throw ins have been a real weapon for the team. It’s something you’ve always had in your armoury in local football, why is it coming to the fore for the Ravens now?
DS: Good question. It’s not something I have always been able to do. As a kid I couldn’t reach (the penalty area) but as I got taller it was just something I found I was quite good at. I practised it a little bit back them, but I don’t actually do that much work on it now. We’re lucky that we have a number of good targets to hit. Also, I have a couple of different ways that I can throw the ball, which allows me to mix the delivery up and pick out different players.
FCIOM: The fixture list has been a completely new experience for all of the players this year and this weekend we have a doubleheader, two matches in less than 24 hours! How will you prepare for that challenge?
DS: Well, hopefully If I am selected, I will stick to my normal routine. I usually work Saturday mornings so that’s takes up that part of my day. In the afternoon I usually like to watch some of the local Manx football! Then I’ll have my pre match meal. So far this season has been beans on toast. As we approach the evening I just try to stay as relaxed as possible. I have a couple of superstitions too now along with my beans on toast. I always tape my wrists and I’ve started cutting my socks too!
FCIOM: From what you’ve experienced this season and what you’ve learned is there any advice to young players who have future aspirations to play for FC Isle of Man?
DS: Stick at it and you’ll be rewarded for your commitment. Also, I’d say it’s important to make smart decisions within the game. Keep pushing yourself as there will always be a new environment to come, and you need to be able to stand out.