‘In Conversation With’ were articles for the matchday programme during the 1998/99 season in which Dave Tavener interviewed various members of the team. Below is the interview with long-serving left-back Peter Risley that appeared in the programme for the friendly against the Tottenham Hotspur First team at Clarence Park on 11th August 1998.

PETER RISLEY FACT FILE

Born: 8-04-66, Stoke Newington.

Occupation: Computer Programmer.

Home Life: Partner Samantha, son Jack from previous marriage.

Previous Clubs: Hoddesdon Town, Ware, Bishop's Stortford, Dagenham.

St. Albans City Playing Record: Debut: 11-08-92, home to Hitchin Town, won 2-0.

1st Goal: 3-10-92, at Staines Town, lost 2-1.

Appearances: 266 (171 League). Goals: 8 (5 League).

Honours with St. Albans City: Isthmian League Runner-up 1992-93; FA Cup 2nd Round 1996-97; London Challenge Cup Winner 1994-95; East Anglian Cup Winner 1992-93; Herts Senior Cup Finalist 1994-95; Herts Charity Cup Winner 1992-93,1994-95,1997-98; Isthmian League Representative XI 1992-93.

With a piece of timing which is normally beyond our capabilities, we put under the spotlight this evening a City player who just happens to follow Tottenham Hotspur. Since joining the Saints from Dagenham back in 1992 Peter Risley has climbed to 17th in the St. Albans City list of all-time appearances and, as you will shortly discover, has made sacrifices in a bid to move higher up that list.

Peter Risley headshotWHY ST. ALBANS CITY?

“I came here because I wanted to win things and I think that over the seven years I've been here I have achieved that with a lot of winners medals. But I never thought I would stay here for seven years. Before coming to St. Albans the longest I'd been with a club was probably three years with Ware, then two years at Bishop's Stortford. I have always been happy with the fans and the club so I wouldn't really want to play for anyone else. There have been a lot of highlights but probably the year under John Mitchell when we were Isthmian League runners up and I think we won two or three cups, that was the best St. Albans side I have ever played in.”

MOST DIFFICULT OPPONENT AND IMPRESSIVE CLUB

“There have been a number of difficult players but I would say that my most difficult opponent has been Jon Bailey who used to be at Enfield but is now with Bournemouth. There have been a number of good teams, the Yeovil Town and Stevenage Borough sides that won the league were both very good sides, very strong. Even so. I think we have always given a good account of ourselves down the years against the very best sides in the league.”

PASS OR BIG BOOT

“We have always preached at St. Albans to get the ball down and play and it nice to know that this year we have players with the ability to pass the ball around. We are as strong as any St. Albans squad I have known and the competition for places will stand us in good stead for the season. If you look back over the past three or four seasons, whenever we have had a few injuries or suspensions we have struggled and at this level you need 18 or 19 players who are good enough to be out there ready to take someone’s place when needed. This season we do seem to have players who are good enough to step in without weakening the side. If you are going to challenge for the title then you've got to have that all over the pitch, I think now we are just about there.”

NO MORE DIVING IN

“There has been a lot said and written about the clampdown on the tackle from behind but I don't think things will be any harder than they have been for the last couple of years. From a personal point of view, I feel that I have matured a lot as a defender, you learn from experience when to go in for a tackle and have a realistic chance of getting the ball. Steve Clark would confirm that from the days when we used to play against each other and the number of times I would clatter into him from behind. But as you get older you do learn to stand up a bit more, keep on your feet and keep your head instead of blindly diving in. This directive has been in for two years really and all FIFA have done is remind everyone to stick to it or face the consequences.”

GOALS, PENALTY SHOOT-OUTS

“I can't remember ever missing a penalty in my entire career, so if I get the chance I'll definitely step up to take one. I don't score that many goals so I do tend to remember them. I was pleased with the one I got last year against Sutton United and I enjoy being on free-kicks, so if I get the chance again this year I'll happily take them but I have a feeling I might be stuck at the back as we have a few players who can probably strike a good free-kick.”

ONLY 634 GAMES BEHIND PHIL WOOD

“I follow the records quite closely and always have done. I turned 32 towards the end of last season so I'm hoping to stay for at least another couple of years and hopefully I can then climb a bit further up the list. There are a couple of the other players at the club now who have played more games than me so I would love to get above them. It is no secret that I was offered the chance to leave St. Albans at the end of last season which is not something that I wanted to do. This club has been a part of my life for the past seven years and I wouldn't want to change that. I would like to think I could get into other sides in this league but I didn't want to leave and have taken a cut to stay. I have committed myself to the club for what I believe are the right reasons and hopefully it has turned out to be the right decision.”

MY BEST SEASON

“With regards to my own form down the years I like to think that I have been reasonably consistent. I would say that apart from the first couple of years at St. Albans, I was playing the best football of my career at the start of last season. I was fitter than I'd been for a long time and certainly a lot sharper but I never really recovered from breaking a toe.”

LISTEN AND LEARN

“In the early days my father was an influence on my football but it is hard to pick out one single person who has influenced me. If you are prepared to listen you will learn things from people and you pick up things which can only make you a better player. When you are a young lad you have to accept that there are setbacks and you just have to get on with it. Unfortunately, when it happened to me I took it the wrong way and just gave up the game for five years. Looking back I probably missed out on the best five years of my career because I didn't play when I should have been learning about the game and developing as a player. Had I been playing who knows where my career might have gone.”

C'MON YOU SPURS

“This evening’s game is one for everyone at St. Albans to enjoy, not just the players but the fans as well. It is not often that we get a team of the calibre of Tottenham at the Park and hopefully we can put up a good show against them. I know the players are looking forward to it and probably me even more so than most as I am a Spurs supporter. It should be a great occasion but we won't just stand back and admire their skills, we will of course be aiming to give a good account of ourselves and I look forward to getting them at White Hart Lane in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup now!”

Peter Risley went on to make 329 appearances for St Albans City, scoring nine goals. In April 1999 he was a member of the City side that faced Forest Green Rovers in the semi-final of the FA Trophy and he scored the City goal during the 1-1 1st Leg draw at Clarence Park. Only ten players have played more games for the club and he made three appearances more than his good friend Kevin Mudd. He had spells with Bishop’s Stortford and Harrow Borough during the 1999-00 season and spent the 2001-02 season with Aylesbury United where he teamed up with fellow former Saint Steve Clark.