THROWING himself into tackles, breaking up play, displaying fierce determination and being a general nuisance makes Leon Scott the archetypal battling midfielder.
If there’s a ball to be won he’ll be there with a crunching tackle, and you wouldn’t want to be on the wrong end of the Darlington midfielder’s physical approach.
Just ask Lewis Dodds. The Spennymoor Town midfielder was floored after being on the receiving end of a bruising challenge bordering on dismissal territory early in Wednesday’s play-off semi-final. In a competitive game with lots at stake, Scott had been first to make his mark.
Darlington went on to win a pulsating tie 3-2 and will face Bamber Bridge in the play-off final today at a sold out Heritage Park.
“I’ve got my role, I get told what to do and every time I’m out there I give 110 per cent,” said Scott, Quakers’ vice-captain and sure to start today’s promotion decider.
“I do the best I can. I try to tackle and break things up and move the ball on. I keep my game basic and let the players further forward do the business.”
There remains a place in the game for an abrasive outlook, certainly in non-league, yet, Teessider Scott is something of an enigma. For all the blood and thunder, his abrasive style contrasts with his life away from the pitch.
His day job sees him take care of young adults in Middlesbrough with autism and down’s syndrome, employed by a company called ubu to offer specialist health and social support.
It doesn’t take long in Scott’s company to realise he cares deeply about his role. He brings George Fallows to every home game, a young adult with learning disabilities.
“He loves it, he really enjoys football and the banter with the lads, it makes his day by meeting everyone and chatting away.”
It’s an occupation unlike any of his team-mates’ employment, among them a heating engineer, a postman and a factory worker, but it’s his sideline as a model that really catches the eye on Scott’s CV.
He's been flown across the world for photo shoots due to working for clothing company Sik Silk.
“I was playing for Whitby and someone spotted me and asked if I’d model for him," explained Scott, whose gym toned and tattoed body helps explain why he has over 8,000 Twitter followers – far more than any of his team-mates.
"He had an idea for a company called Sik Silk, which has become one of the biggest clothing brands in the UK, they’re selling in countries across the world.
“He’d seen me on the pitch, thought I had the right image. I met the photographer down an alley and two years later I’m doing shoots in Vegas and Ibiza.
“It’s enjoyable, it’s something different away from football. The lads banter about it. Sometimes they’ll put a poster on the wall in the changing room, but they’re all sound about it.
“I try not to overdo it in the gym because you can get too big and become immobile and start getting lower back injuries.
“Some people will run past me because they’re faster, but I can hold people off the ball because I’m stronger than them.”
A lot stronger. Opposition players sometimes bounce off Scott.
While he has limitations, he can still play a bit and is shortlisted for Darlington’s goal of the season.
“It was with my right foot at home to Lancaster, my weaker foot, I took a touch and hit it as hard as I could and luckily it flew in the top corner. I’ll be getting in touch with everyone asking them to vote!”
Scoring goals was never Martin Gray’s forte during his playing days. The Darlington manager is a big admirer of a player he signed three years ago.
“He has a huge desire to be the best at this level and is a great example to all non-league footballers,” said Gray.
“He does everything right, he wants to achieve all the time, he never lets you down and his work ethic in matches and training is very high.
“He’s very dogged, he works hard and he scores goals – I never scored goals – and he’s been smashing, a model pro.”
A model semi-pro would be more accurate.
“We had training the other night but I was unable to attend because I had to go to London for modelling,” added Scott.
“Martin is very understanding, but he knows I’m not a lazy lad. I’m always at the gym and always looking after myself.
“At the moment it’s a bit of pocket money. I get to travel and meet people, it’s a case of seeing where it goes.
“I got a black eye playing in a match a few weeks ago and had to get in touch with the photographers to explain what had happened. They still wanted me, I just had to put a bit of make-up on for the shoot!”
The 28-year-old, formerly of Dunston, Harrogate Town, Newcastle Blue Star and Whitby, is one of the last men standing of the clutch of players signed in the wake of demotion to the Northern League.
Of those who played in the first game of 2012-13, only Scott, Gary Brown, David Dowson and Amar Purewal remain.
“The three years have gone really quickly,” added Scott, who has now made 122 appearances, behind only Thompson, Dowson and Alan White of the current squad.
“When I first met Martin at the Blue Bell in Middlesbrough he wanted to win the league straight away when he’d only signed six players at the time.
“I thought maybe he was underestimating the Northern League, but we won the title.
“We were unlucky last season, and we’ve gone straight back at it this year. We’ve been up there and challenging in all three seasons.”
The climax of the third season comes three days after a thrilling 3-2 win over Spennymoor, a match that could’ve gone either way with the teams trading goals in the closing stages.
Quakers trailed 2-1 with 12 minutes to go, but Liam Hatch equalised and then Dowson notched the winner in the last minute, providing Darlington with their most dramatic moment since Chris Senior’s Wembley goal four years ago.
Scott said: “People had probably written us off, but it shows the character we’ve got, we bounced back with a never say die attitude. We’ve had that all season, when we’ve had our backs to the wall we always come back.
“It was the biggest win we’ve had and there’s been some good ones, like beating Spenny in the Northern League.
“I felt confident at 1-0 and at half-time Martin gave us our jobs for the second half. To be fair to them, they gave it a go and got two goals. Others teams might’ve crumbled, but with our attitude that we get off Martin we’ve gone at them again and came back to win.
“It was outlined in a talk at the end of the game by Martin. It’s a togetherness involving everyone, including the fans and the people who work for the club, not just the starting XI and the subs.
“Martin has got everyone pulling in the same direction.”
written by Craig Stoddart , Deputy Sports Editor of The Northern Echo Published Saturday, 2nd May 2015
Reprinted from http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/sport/12928383.SATURDAY_SPOTLIGHT__Enigmatic_Scott_is_Darlington_s_model_semi_pro/