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Big Interview: Lee Harrison

Southend United's goalkeeper coach talks to us after a successful season for Mark Oxley and others.

14 May 2018

After completing his second season as Southend's goalkeeping coach, Lee Harrison sat down at spoke at length about the success of the goalkeeper department at Blues.

There was no better place to start for this week's 'Big Interview' than Lee, who is overseeing a healthy production of bright young goalkeepers at the club.

We started off by asking Lee all about the man in between the sticks for all but one game in the 2017/18 season, Southend's number one...

You can watch the full interview on iFollow Blues!

Lee, it was a brilliant season for the goalkeepers last season, typified by Mark Oxley winning the Player of the Season award wasn't it?

Mark fully deserved the Player of the Season award, he did put in a shift last season playing every game bar one.

People might not know he spent the summer in here with Ted training because of his fractured elbow from the season before, so he really did reap the rewards of 12 months hard work. I’m really pleased for him.

He was jus starting to play well around Christmas when we had a good run so he was just getting into his stride a little bit, and then the fractured elbow came.

But his work ethic through the summer, as was Ted’s, and he just started the season like that and carried it on.

What’s he like to work with as a coach…

He’s really low maintenance, a typical northerner which we wind him up about.

He comes in, does the work, will do anything you ask him to do, and he’s just a good character.

He leads the group really well and encourages the young ones, they love being around him, so he makes my job easy.

And ending the season with four clean sheets is what any goalkeeper strives for…

The live on clean sheets. Mark was playing well earlier on in the season, but every game would finish and he would be upset.

He was playing well but no he was upset because he wasn’t getting the clean sheets.

Now he’s getting them which is good. Hopefully he stays with us and he has a season next year where he doesn’t do much, doesn’t get Player of the Year and we get promoted with him.

Oxley is at the forefront of what you do, but in truth it’s a team of you isn’t it?

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday will be very generic and we will work on things for everyone, come Thursday and Friday it’s important that we focus on the game and I design practices that we might get in the games.

He will be the forefront come Thursday and Friday because that result is the most important thing for the club.

And behind Mark is a conveyor belt of promising young goalkeepers. Unfortunately, Ted has had his troubles with injury so that has given Nathan Bishop the chance to experience a first team environment.

It’s been tough on the one hand for Ted. He’s had something that we could never have foreseen with his shoulder.

We tried to rehab but after then going in and operating we found out it was a problem that he’s had from birth.

Hopefully that is corrected now. We got him in at the right time so that we can get him fit for pre-season, but that left an opportunity for Nathan to step up.

The best thing I can say about Nathan is he prepares every day like he’s going to play.

You look at him sometimes and think, you’re over preparing, but then when he goes in at Scunthorpe it shows why he’s ready.

For him now he needs to develop and play games so we’ll look at that over the summer and where Ted is, to get Nathan maybe out and go and help him move forwards.

Nathan’s very level-headed and mature for his age isn’t he?

Yeah he’s very mature, he leads his youth team group at the U23s and the manager looks at him and goes ‘is there anything you don’t do’ because he’s cleaning up, sweeping the dressing rooms, he’s just immaculate as a professional.

One thing that will really help him is he’s had one year travelling around with the first team so he knows exactly what the environment is and what we want from him.

And behind him you have Josh Bexon and Harry Seaden, the latter who has had England recognition…

Harry’s still around the England U17 squad although he’s on standby, but he’s now looked at Nathan and seen him make his debut and he’s jumped on the coattails. 

He’s gone, right if that’s what he’s done to get there then I’ll follow him.

And there’s a lot of discipline amongst the group that you implement isn’t there…

We have our own group and our own equipment and I make sure it all gets put away and the lads are doing that. I think the small things matter and they’re things that you then find on the pitch that hopefully make the players and people they are.

I’m big on that, Oxley’s big on that and now I’ve put it in place they just do it.

What do you think is the secret to the success that we as a club have had in our goalkeeping department?

I don’t think there is a big secret. We set the environment and hopefully we do that right, but the bottom line is they’ve got to see an opportunity.

I went to West Ham in the Academy and I left there for one reason; I couldn’t see where the pathway was going to be for ‘keepers to go through and play in the first team because I thought they would always go and buy the next one because the financial implications are so big in that league.

Here, you down and there’s been Dan Bentley, Ted [Smith], there’s been Nathan, we can name three in the last two years that have all played in the first team.

If you’re a young goalkeeper you’re going to work hard because we will give you a chance here, and that is big.

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