Matt Healey continues the series with a look at the career of Phil Stant.
Born in Bolton on the 13th October 1962 Phil Stant was a veteran of the Falklands War. He had though played a few games for Reading in 1982, but opted for a career in the forces.
Stant was stationed in Hereford around the mid 1980’s and played for the successful army football team managed by Ned Kelly who told us “Phil was absolutely brilliant. When he arrived at the camp I was told he had played for Reading alongside Kerry Dixon, so signed him up straight away.
You could tell he was a bit special. I knew John Newman (Hereford United manager) well, we played games at Edgar Street, Phil was scoring a lot of goals”
Stant had a lot of respect for Ned Kelly “He was a real mentor, somebody who I could talk too, he was a lovey guy, he mentioned me to John Newman at Hereford United. I then ended up playing a few games for the reserves. I had a bit of a taste for it playing for Reading, and jumped at the chance to become a professional footballer” John bought him out of the army for £600, and Stant became a professional footballer.
Stant made his debut as a substitute against Wrexham on 3rd December 1986, but 7 days later made his full start against Newport County in the Freight Rover Trophy. He scored a hat trick in a 4-0 win.
“Ollie Kearns and Stewart Phillips were injured, so I got to start. It was a really good night”
It wasn’t all plain sailing “It took me a good part of the year to get fit as I had missed out on pre-season, but I was beginning to establish myself in the team”
John Newman was to depart as Hereford manager in the autumn of 1987, and Ian Bowyer took over as manager. Stant and Bowyer had their run ins, but Stant acknowledges that Bowyer bought the best out of him “Being a former manager, I understand now why he made some of the decisions, he was a big influence in my career”
Bowyer reciprocated “Stanty was a great lad, he could be quite hot headed, wasn’t the most disciplined, but you could never fault his effort, his goal scoring record was really good”
Stant was top scorer for Hereford in the 1987/1988 campaign which included a goal against Nottingham Forest in the Littlewoods Cup.
Hereford United 1987/1988 (c) MH Archive
Jon Narbett joined Hereford from Shrewsbury Town in October 1988. He has fond memories of Stant “He was a beast of a finisher, very passionate, but an amazing character. The last time I saw him was on the pitch at Wembley during the 1995 Play Off Final when I was at Chesterfield, and he was at Bury”
The 1988/1989 season was Stant’s best. He scored 29 league goals and ended up with the Golden Boot. He formed a formidable partnership with Paul McLoughlin “Paul was a superb player, we really gelled, we ended up linking up at Mansfield Town a few years later”
Hereford United V Scarborough – September 1988 (C) MH Archive
McLoughlin was a former Bristol City and Cardiff City player and joined Hereford United in 1987. In his 2nd season at Edgar Street he switched to a more forward role “I ended up playing up front in a reserve game as we were short on numbers, and I played really well. I struck up a really good partnership with Phil, It was pure luck how it all happened to be honest, we helped each other. He was more direct, whereas I was more positional”
Hereford United 1988/1989 (c) MH Archive
Stant departed to Notts County in the summer of 1989 to Notts County for £175,000. McLoughlin joined Wolves for £45,000.
Paul McLoughlin & Phil Stant – 1989 (c) MH Archive
Neil Warnock had tried to sign Stant the year before whilst manager of Scarborough, but the deal fell through. Shortly after Warnock had left the McCain Stadium, and a few months later became Notts County manager. Warnock had finally secured his man.
His time at Meadow Lane didn’t go according to plan, and Stant spent time out on loan at Blackpool, Lincoln and Huddersfield. Then he joined Fulham for £60,000.
Six months later Stant was back on his travels and scored 26 times for Mansfield Town as they won promotion from what is now League Two in May 1992.
In December 1992 Stant joined Cardiff City for £100,000 and became a hero at Ninian Park winning promotion to what is now League One in 1993.
Bury and Lincoln City were Stant’s next port of calls, and he ended up becoming Lincoln manager in May 2000.
He left Lincoln a year later, and on a short term deal returned as a player, and helped Brighton win promotion to what is now League One in 2001.
Stant then spent some time in the non league scene with spells at Worcester, Dover, Hayes, Hinckley, and then became Player Manager at Gainsborough Trinity , and Ilkeston.
He currently works for the FA in Nottinghamshire.
Phil Stant 2019 (c) Twitter