John Yems admits he will be living the dream working in the Premier League with AFC Bournemouth and says his Sussex days played their part.
The Cherries football operations and recruitment manager has had plenty of success over the years and brought through some big names in his time working at then Isthmian League and Conference level all the way up to Championship.
Former Crawley Town boss Yems also had a short spell managing the Hornets back in 1993 - when he was still living in London and working at the Fulham Academy.
The appointment didn’t last for long and his managerial capabilities drew some criticism, but Yems believes that the proof is very much in the pudding having developed players like Jon Bostock and worked alongside England assistant manager Ray Lewington.
Now, as part of widely-heralded Eddie Howe’s team on the South Coast, Yems has helped the minnows achieve the previously unthinkable.
The London-born man has plenty of stand-out highlights under his belt after what looked to be, at the time, early career setbacks at Horsham and Crawley, but those days have helped make him who he is.
Yems said: “With my 30 years you have had your kicks and your ups and downs and people are saying ‘oh now you are in the Premier League’. Yes, and don’t get me wrong I am not trying to demean it, but don’t under-estimate the achievements that we had at Exeter and Crawley.
“That meant just as much to me, if not more so, because you were more involved to the extent that it was a challenge, because you never had nothing.
“The same as Ed and that when they went to Bournemouth, they did superb. They nearly got relegated out the league, nearly ended up in the Conference.
“We had people turning up at Crawley bringing wreaths and candles - on the radio, on Mercury they had ‘today’s the day, bring reefs and candles, it’s the death of Crawley Football Club.
“You had all these people turning up - we are getting the boys ready for training and turning up with wreaths saying ‘ the club is dead’, the club was not going to die and then we were told, ‘by the way, you still need to win Saturday’.
“There was that pressure. But the following year when I went to Exeter with Steve Perryman and Paul Tisdale, we got promoted at Wembley in the play-offs and the following year we got promoted again to the first division.
“Exeter hadn’t been that high for years. So my first game at Exeter was Ebbsfleet away and my last game was Leeds United and then you come back to this area people saying ‘good coach, couldn’t manage’ and you think behave, you have to evolve.
“At the time I was a lunatic, but it was a lot of show boating, a lot of naïvety, a lot of me and it shouldn’t of been, but you learn from that, don’t you?
“Coaching is what I enjoyed and even now at Bournemouth, what I enjoy is being around the players as much as coaching. I hardly do any at Bournemouth as I don’t need to.
“Ed and the boys are there and it is such a good atmosphere, they have created it.
“I think as you get older, my back goes, my knee goes, you try and train as you used to train and you can’t do it. I just love the involvement of the football dressing room being in and around players, whether you are working with one or two or part of a team, it’s just working with them.
“Anybody who can earn a living at a football club at any level is very, very luck.”
Former director and Football League referee Michael James recently said that Yems despite being a ‘great coach’ was a ‘rubbish manager’ during his time at Queen Street and on his Horsham days, Yems recalled: “It was a good time, the supporters were very good. We were getting decent crowds then of 300 or 400, even though we were supposedly a bad team.
“As Mike took over from me and lost the last seven games, he obviously also wasn’t a very good manager, but he wasn’t that bad with the whistle in his hand!
“My mum died around that Christmas and that was when I had to pack it all in. It was too much, I was travelling down from Dulwich where I was living, and then three years later I moved to Horsham!
“I was still at Fulham when I came here, with Micky Adams and Ian Branfoot and that. That was 1992 and people are still talking about it and the players.”
Those players included Paul Smith, who went on to Barnet, Jamie Ndah, who later signed for Torquay for £20,000, Luke Anderson, Graham Porter and Tom Adlington
Yems added: “When you bring players like the ones I did through Horsham, that doesn’t just happen by luck. Everyone you pick won’t be a winner, because you work with them.
“Same with Crawley - Mark Wright played for me there. I run his football team that go around and do charity games.
“On the back of Crawley I got the Exeter job and then you are at Wembley again and then promoted again, so what is the point in being bitter about it.
“You make it work out. You can do two things, sit under a rock and go everybody feel sorry for you or you can go, I am onto the next thing. It’s that attitude, that’s what has kept me going.”
So what does a football operations and recruitment manager do? The same thing the ticket man on the gate does - anything they can help and offer to achieve the overall goal of the club.
Yems said: “There is an old cliché in football. My job at Bournemouth is to help us stay in the Premier League, that’s all it is. Mine and Eddie’s job is to help us stay in the Premier League.
“There was a bloke at NASA, who was a cleaner - no disrespect to cleaners, and they asked him what his job was and he said ‘to put a man on the moon’, he’s part of that set-up.
“That’s what you are, you are part of everything. You can’t start giving people pigeon holes.
“You are part of what Eddie wants to do and if you aren’t you wouldn’t be there. He doesn’t suffer fools Mr Howe put it that way, he’s a good family man and it’s a good family club.”
It will not be Yems’ first taste of the Premier League next season but the excitement is starting the sink in.
Despite this, he is not getting carried away and despite being extremely proud of the work done by the whole club to get them there, they will not be resting on their laurels.
He continued: “I was at Crystal Palace when they were in the Premier League, but not involved as much with the first team as I am now, but in that time I was managing a team with Jonny Bostock and Sean Scannell, people like that.
“Bostock went to Tottenham and Sean Scannell who is now at Blackburn went for over a million. So I have had experience of it.
“It didn’t hit home until I was on the beach on holiday and everyone was texting me with the fixtures, you suddenly go, yeah, there we were on a cold, wet and windy night in Crewe and now you are going up to Man United and Arsenal.
“Of course it is everyone’s dream to do it and you’d be stupid to say it isn’t because it is. Like I said, before, if you get the opportunity to do it then you are the lucky one.
“The thing with it is, is when you see the work Eddie has put in and the work the coaching side has put in and the work the club has put in to put out your shop window, then you are proud for everybody.
“I feel more proud for all the others than I do for myself because I know what they have put into it - more than I have.
“I am not saying it doesn’t mean anything to me, of course it does because you are part of it.
“Soon as 3 o’clock comes on a Saturday, you are playing who you are playing. We went through it and some of the big clubs, when we got promoted to the Championship, everyone were saying about Bournemouth going to Leeds and going to Derby and Forest and going here and going there.
“You thought here we go, but now you think, let’s go to the next level. There is a saying in Bournemouth that goes, together, everything is possible and that says it all.
“I just can’t wait for the Premier League. Even sitting on holiday, going around Cape Verdi in all the bars they have the fixtures and next year it’s weird to think it will be Bournemouth running out.
“It’s knowing now people can relate you to a side that they can actually watch. You go on all the websites and see the profiles and you think maybe I have been doing something right as a ‘rubbish manager’.
“For me personally, every game we play next year we are going to enjoy, it’s going to hard work and every point you are going to have to fight and earn the right for - nothing that we haven’t been doing for the last three years.
“Then if the cards are right - I know Ed will have them prepared, I know he will have them doing the best and I know the players will want to do it, which is a big thing.
“I have been in some dressing rooms in my time and this is the best atmosphere I have ever seen for many, many years, since my Fulham days. It’s on a par with that.
“It takes me back to my Fulham days with Ray Lewington as Ray’s assistant and what’s Ray doing now? He’s the assistant manager of England. All from a ‘rubbish manager’ like me.”