Youth team player, hall of fame member and boot boy to a future manager, writes James Shield.
Craig Alcock performed numerous roles at Yeovil Town but tonight, when his former club visit Bramall Lane, he is intent on being cast as a villain.
“My only focus is trying to win this game for Sheffield United,” Alcock told The Star. “I came through the ranks at Huish Park and I’ve got so many fond memories of the place but sentiment doesn’t come into it.”
Alcock, aged 26, has become an influential member of Nigel Clough’s squad since arriving in South Yorkshire during the close season. Last weekend’s victory over Bradford City was his 13th appearance after electing against signing a new contract with League One rivals Peterborough three months ago.
The 14th, however, promises to be the most emotive.
“I’ve never actually played against Yeovil before,” Alcock said. “Things change quickly in football but there are still a few of the old faces from my time still around, Chris Weale, Nathan Smith and Gary Johnson of course, so it will be good to see them again.
“I’ve got lots of good memories, like being named in their best ever team from the last 10 years, and a lot of good friends there.”
Terry Skiverton, who took charge of Town for three years before stepping down to become Johnson’s assistant, features among them.
“I was actually Terry’s boot boy when I was coming through the ranks.” Alcock continued. “He is probably the greatest defender that Yeovil have ever had and I don’t say that lightly at all.
“Quite a few people were surprised when he stayed at the club to become a number two after being in the main job for so long but Terry is very loyal and thinks a lot of Yeovil. He wants what is best for them at the end of the day and, from what I can gather, still has a lot of input.
“It’s a very friendly football club and, while it might not be the biggest on the planet, there’s a real ‘us against the world’ mentality behind the scenes.”
United experienced first hand how dangerous that siege mentality can be when they were beaten by Town in the 2013 play-off semi-finals. But, after being relegated from the Championship earlier this year, Johnson’s squad has struggled to acclimatise to life back in the third tier. They made the journey north yesterday ranked 19th - 12 places behind Clough’s side - in the table.
“That’s exactly the same type of spirit we are building here,” Alcock, who left Somerset in 2011, said. “It’s vitally important and, with the characters here behind the scenes, it’s coming along really well.
“I think you’ve seen on countless occasions this season that we’re ready to battle hard and fight for each other.
“You try and take advantage of everything you possibly can and turn it in your favour. We know there’s a lot expected of us at a club as big as this one but that’s great because, after all, we are all here to achieve.”
“We had a good win at the weekend,” Alcock said. “It’s important we keep the momentum going.
“But, as pleased as we were with the result, we also know there were things we could have done better.”