Scott Quigley on the stigma around WPL players, wrong moves and his second FL chance
“I was seen as a Welsh Premier League player, and someone said to me at Blackpool ‘we’ve brought you up six divisions,’ and I thought: No you haven’t.”
Scott Quigley is arguably the best export to come out of the Welsh Premier League in the modern era.
The strong and pacey forward caught the eye of numerous national and football league clubs and in 2017, he made a huge move from The New Saints to Blackpool for a £35,000 fee.
Reflecting on the move in a candid interview, the 27-year-old striker admits the transfer never went the way he wanted to, and believes it was in part because of the stigma that still hangs over players who have cut their teeth in the Welsh Premier League.
Those doubters of the Welsh domestic system have been silenced to a degree, as the Shropshire born striker finished this season with 20 National League goals and fired Barrow back into the Football League for the first time in over 40 years.
But the tag that gets put on products of Welsh football is still something that bugs the centre forward.
“When I was at Blackpool I believed I should play every week, all players do. But I was seen as a Welsh Prem player,” Quigley explained.
“It annoys me, because everyone thinks there isn’t quality in the Welsh Prem and some people never will.
“That TNS side would have given many sides a run for their money.
“I remember being told by someone, I won’t say who, and they said ‘we’ve brought you up six tiers,’ and I thought, ‘Six tiers? That’s like the Evo Stik League.’
“They said they’ve brought me up from there and given me a chance, and I thought no, I came from TNS, and that side I was in was a Conference North standard side.
“I’ve not come up six tiers, thanks very much for the chance and all that but that wasn’t the case.
“I couldn’t have stayed at Blackpool for another year, I had to get out and it shows I made the right decision.
“Now with going up I am going to have a proper chance of showing people what I am about.”
The striker’s venture into football began at seven years old and in his school days after trialing at a few clubs he found himself in the TNS academy.
Obsessed with being the best and staying away from alcohol when other kids his age were indulging, Quigley had the perfect attitude to go and make it.
But as he explains, he almost kicked football into the long grass early on.
“In my first year at TNS I didn’t really enjoy it, and I nearly quit.
“By persuasion of the coaches I stayed and that’s where my career went up and up and I never looked back.
“In my final year we had a really strong team which is why we had so much success and then I signed my first professional contract.”
Loan spells with Caersws and Carmarthen Town followed, before a fruitful spell at Cefn Druids helped to propel Quigley into the Saints first team.
“I came back at 19/20 with loads of confidence, I was in the gym and smashing pre-season.
“We played in the Faroe Islands and I never looked back after that.
“The Champions League is what did it. Scouts were down when we played Europa FC and I scored that goal, and then score twice away from home and then three or four clubs came in.”
Prior to this Portsmouth were keen to take the striker but nothing materialised, and after a sensational goal in 2017 in the Champions League qualifiers, the interest had intensified.
Scouts were aplenty at Park Hall watching arguable the Welsh league’s hottest young property, when he flicked the ball over an Europa FC defender’s head and smashed it into the net.
The goal racked up thousands of views online and had all but sealed his move away, but in hindsight with what happened after his move to Blackpool, the striker believes he may have made the wrong move at the time.
“Blackpool came and offered more money. I think it was them, Peterborough, Cambridge and Stevenage, and Blackpool offered the most.
“Looking back I probably picked the wrong manager, because Grant McCann was at Peterborough and he was more suited to me, and had a good record of bringing non-league lads through.
“When Portsmouth came in I had scored ten in six and they wouldn’t pay what TNS wanted. I should have probably gone, and it probably stunted me not going then.
“Blackpool wasn’t great and I’ll be the first to admit it, we didn’t see eye to eye me and the manager (Gary Bowyer).
“He made a few remarks I didn’t like and the next thing I knew I was on loan to Wrexham.
“I don’t think he would admit this but I don’t think it suited him that I did so well at Wrexham.
“Then I went back and had proved myself, but within two weeks I was out on loan again and just thought ‘this is pointless’.
“He was using every excuse not to play me, which is fine, I have no disrespect to him, but he was saying I was coming in heavy when I wasn’t.
“I went to Port Vale and it didn’t work again. They had Tom Pope up front and he is a legend up there and it was never going to work, that was as bad a move as Blackpool. It was a bad year for me that.”
His nine appearance spell at Blackpool didn’t just come with footballing issues. Regular protests against the Oyston family over their ownership of the Tangerines had marred the club for many years, and it was something the youngster also had to contend with.
“The manager did as much as he could to keep us away from it, but every week someone would walk in and have a problem with them.
“It was my first game and there were 5,000 outside the ground. It was a very weird place, I’ve never been somewhere like that before.
“It was hostile, around the ground was run down and even walking through the town people would shout something about the Oyston’s, and you’d be thinking what are they talking about.
“It is brilliant to see them doing well again, they’ve had 10,000 back there and they are only going to move up now.”
Sandwiched in between other loan spells was a 17 game loan stint at Wrexham, where Quigley bagged eight goals as the club pushed for promotion back to the Football League.
But after instantly becoming a hero to the Wrexham faithful, it all fell apart.
“I loved it there. They’re such a big club and the fans took to me straight away. I scored on my debut against Hartlepool, I scored twice.
“Then at home I scored against Tranmere and it erupted that day.
“We we’re flying at the top and then Dean Keates left and it was a spanner in the works.
“I’ve never seen a club fall apart like that. We were so strong, I had seven in eight.
“They didn’t bring a manager in, Andy Davies is a lovely bloke and a great number two.
“They should have gone up that year.”
After two loan spells didn’t work out and a fractured relationship at Blackpool, Quigley sought pastures new as he moved in to his prime.
Turning down offers from the Football League and a return to Wrexham, he opted for Barrow and it has turned out to be the move of his career so far.
20 goals in 35 games for the Holker Street men last season propelled them back into the Football League and now the striker has his chance to prove the doubters wrong.
“When I left Blackpool I had interest from Scunthorpe which was too far. Macclesfield came in but they had financial problems.
“So it was between Barrow, who were financially stable and Wrexham.
“A lot of people thought I’d go there, but I spoke to Ian Evatt the manager and he won it for me really.
“They offered me a three year deal and blew Wrexham out of the water. I would have loved to have gone back but I have no regrets after what has happened.”
The Barrow move has propelled Quigley back into the spotlight and he wants to make his mark next season.
After an edgy time due to the Covid-19 crisis, the striker and his team mates learned their fate recently, and the return to the Football League was sealed.
“It has been 48 years for Barrow. They were voted out of the league back then due to being too far away, so I think they’ve been partying ever since.
“The manager was really vocal about a decision being made in the press and it would have been harsh not to promote us.
“Others will have their opinions, but the FA make the decision and we were rightfully promoted.
“We weren’t half way through the league either, we had played 80% of the games.”
As well as the Barrow faithful, Welsh domestic football fans will be eagerly awaiting to see how one of their top exports fares back in the Football League next season when it eventually does begin.
But despite his success in England, alongside others such as Sam Finley and Connell Rawlinson in recent times, the hitman believes the stigma will still continue to linger around Welsh domestic players.
“There is a stigma around players in the league, it has changed a little bit.
“One or two may get pinched away but it is still there. People 100% look down their nose when it comes to Welsh Premier players.
“People ask me about my honours, and I say I won everything in Wales and the league every year.
“And they always say the same, ‘yeah but it was in Wales.’
“And I say, okay then you go and try and win it.”