Rookie coach Rogers loving life with the Lions

Scott Rogers in action for Heanor before breaking his leg.
Scott Rogers in action for Heanor before breaking his leg.

Having your football career ended by a horrific leg break at a young age might be enough to put many a player off the game altogether.

For Scott Rogers, however, it has presented the opportunity to start making his way as a promising young coach.

Rogers, 22, is the current boss of Heanor Town Reserves. One of the youngest managers in the game, he has overseen an impressive start to the Lions’ Central Midlands League Reserve Division campaign, Heanor winning eight of their nine league games and four cup ties too.

But it’s as a young apprentice at Mansfield Town where Rogers’ story begins.

“I signed for Mansfield when I was 18,” he said.

“I had a year there initially, then was offered a six-month professional contract.

“Because it wasn’t a long-term deal, the onus was on me to knuckle down and earn a new contract that would keep me there longer.

“But in the end, I played 15 reserve games and couldn’t quite break into the first team, a task made harder by the fact it was Mansfield’s promotion season from the Conference Premier and they’d put a lot of resources into the first team which saw a squad of about 30 competing for places.

“It was tough but a great experience to be involved with the club at that time.”

Rogers would eventually leave the Stags when his contract was up, opting to sign for Eastwood Town in the Northern Premier League where he’d spent a month on loan before his Mansfield contract ended.

Rogers said: “Chris Shaw was player/manager there at the time but they were bottom of the league so it was a difficult few months.

“I had my first spell at Heanor later that year and then went to Rainworth who had Adam Murray on loan at the time. He knew me from Mansfield and as he was my hero growing up it was a great experience to play with him.”

Having finished the 2013-14 season with Rainworth, Rogers opted to return to Heanor for the start of the following campaign, but it was with the Lions where his playing career would meet its untimely end.

A broken leg sustained in November last year saw Rogers have a metal plate inserted to aid recovery and the tough tackling midfielder laid up for months and unable to even kick a ball in anger, even if the desire to get back onto the pitch had initially remained.

“In the end, my interest in playing the game decreased as time went on, and even if I was able to play in a physical sense, mentally it would have been tough because of what happened, especially with me liking a tackle and that aspect of my game likely to be affected,” he said.

Coaching was something Rogers had always had an interest in, so when, last summer, the opportunity arose to return to the Town Ground to manage the Lions’ reserves, it was something Rogers was keen to explore.

He said: “I met with Glen Clarence and he explained how he wanted the reserve team to have good young players in it that he could potentially use in the first team. That’s how things have developed, because seven or eight of our squad have played in the first team this season.

“Things have started really well. Quite a few of the teams in our division are made up of older players and they’re often quite surprised at the youth we have and the quality we possess. We’ve got the energy to tire older teams out.

“We’re working closely with the first team. We train together and share players - even the club’s record scorer Nathan Benger played for us last weekend to get some game time.

“I’m really enjoying it. It’s given me a way to stay involved in the game and I hope on a team level we can get promoted into the CML South and on a personal level that it can help me develop as a coach as I’d like to manager higher up the levels one day. I’ve done my level one coaching badges and am booked in for my level two in February.”

Rogers’ affiliation with Mansfield Town hasn’t ended either. His day job is as part of the Stags’ Football in the Community team, another aspect of the game Rogers is enjoying being part of.

He said: “We travel round the schools doing various activities and I’m also involved with the club’s futsal team too.

“My previous job was in an office and it wasn’t the same. Being involved in football on a day-to-day basis is far more enjoyable for me.

“I’m still relatively young so to have had a head start in coaching, both with Heanor and in my role at Mansfield, will hopefully benefit me in the future.”