After sliding down the Football League ladder in recent years, Russ Wilcox has overseen the Iron’s return to League One.That is after a fantastic season in League Two, which has seen the Iron guarantee a top-three finish.
“When we arrived back at the club, it was a different place to the one we left in 2006, I’ll be honest,” he told The Iron Player.
“There had obviously been some good times but you could see the previous two to three years had been bad.
“We needed to shake things up and get the club back on track- it’s took a while and a lot of hard work from everybody.
"The hardest thing to do is win football matches - that’s the way to turn it around.”
Wilcox has seen an exciting start to management, after waiting patiently in the wings, serving as assistant for a number of years, and he has praised his squad for his immediate success which saw him go 28 games unbeaten - a world-record breaking run.
“The group here all great people," he said.
"Whether they are in the starting eleven or not, the players have just got on with it so professionally, with a first-class application and attitude.”
A whirlwind 12 months has seen Wilcox make the transition directly from being Brian Laws’ assistant to the main hot-seat and it’s something that came about as a surprise, something he never imagined.
“It’s amazing what happens in football, you’ve got to be ready for anything, things change quickly and I was ready," he said.
“You’ve always got to be on the ball and willing to improve yourself all the time as an individual and a team.
“It’s been an amazing year and I can look back with so much pride at the fact I’ve achieved promotion as a player, assistant manager and as a manager for the same football club.
“It gives me immense satisfaction, but it’s not about me, the success is within this group, but personally it’s very pleasing.”
Having won promotion with the club in all three roles, he has experienced the winning feel from different viewpoints and the feeling as manager is the most rewarding for Wilcox.
He stated: “It feels better to win it as a manager than player. As a player you look after yourself, first and foremost, but as a manager you’ve got to look after the whole team so it certainly gives you more satisfaction.”
Seeing relationships between the playing and coaching staff from various points of views has also helped his management style, in keeping a happy, united spirit within the squad.
“You’ve got to be yourself and that’s what I’m like as a manager, I’m honest with people in life,” he said.
“It’s been difficult to take people in and tell them they won’t be playing. It’s how I wanted it as a professional so I’ve tried to manage like I wanted to be managed.
“Not everybody will like it but I accept that, you just have to put your own stamp on things. There’s certain ways I didn’t like as a player and there’s aspects like that which I haven’t taken into the job.”
With the season’s end approaching, Wilcox has his eyes firmly set on the title on Saturday, in hope luck is on his side, but he is already looking forward to returning to League One come August.
He said: “It’s important that everyone enjoys Saturday, whatever the outcome, because the bigger picture is that we are back in League One after a fantastic season, one which will hopefully end with just five defeats out of 46 league games. There’s so many positives to look at but the major one is we’ve taken the club back up.
“It’s exciting when you look at the teams in League One. You look at the likes of Barnsley, Bradford, maybe Rotherham and Doncaster or Birmingham, there’s some good local derbies in there, beautiful stadiums to play at and better football to be played - with no disrespect to League Two, it’s been a grind at times.
“At the end of the day, it’s been an incredible achievement from a great group of players and great people at the football club and to also get a smile back on supporters’ faces after three difficult seasons and it gets the club moving in the right direction again.”
See much more from Russ Wilcox on The Iron Player.