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TO HELL AND BACK; FA CUP FOURTH ROUND BRISTOL CITY V WEST HAM; Local owner is heaven for Cotterill after foreigners.

Byline: DAVE KIDD Chief Football Writer

AFTER hellish experiences working for owners from Iceland, Hong Kong, Israel, Russia and Kuwait, Steve Cotterill waxes lyrical about the joys of a hometown chairman in Bristol City's Steve Lansdown.

Cotterill has taken City from bottom to top in League One in just over a year, as they prepare to face West Ham in the FA Cup fourth round tomorrow.

And he is adamant owner Landsdown is allowing him to build a great team spirit - even if it means being forced out of his hotel suite.

Cotterill said: "We're able to stay for two nights in hotels before away games so the boys have their games' night on a Thursday - FIFA or Monopoly.

"At Scunthorpe last week I was going along the corridor to my room and I walked past a suite. I could hear Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and a few of the lads having a laugh.

"The next morning I went for breakfast and I gave my room number to the lady and Jay told her, 'I'm in the Thornberry Suite'. And the lady said, 'Oh yes, of course you are, Mr Cotterill'.

"Jay says, 'Oh yeah, hink uite!' ting n his I was -sized on't we u sorry gaffer, I think I've taken your suite!' He'd been luxuriating in his big bath in his grand suite and I was in my normal-sized room. I said, 'Don't worry, son, if we keep winning you can have my suite every week!'" Cotterill believes the camaraderie in his young squad was built on a pre-season trip to Africa. He said: "We had a week at England's 2010 World Cup training base at Rustenburg in South Africa, it's at altitude and we pushed them almost to breaking point.

"Then a week in Botswana, which was Steve Lansdown's idea. We went to the SOS orphanage, the boys were holding babies who would never know their parents, it was really humbling.

"When you tell them, 'We're going to Botswana pre-season'. People think, 'God, what's that going to be like?'

"But we built this camaraderie there - we had an X Factor night organised and hosted by Stevie Allen the mad physio. He had the fake boobs, skinny dress and blonde wig - the new boys had all secretly filmed their acts back in England which were screened out there. The team spirit was worth more than any training or tactics.

Steve Lansdown. (left) nearly PS50million into the another PS40m for the development.

"Steve Lansdown (left) has put nearly PS50million into the club and another PS40m for the stadium development.

"I've had owners fr Kong, an Israeli, a Icelandic, Kuwaitis - acouple of days at No Forest.

"I've had owners from Hong Kong, an Israeli, a Russian, Icelandic,

Kuwaitis - albeit for a couple of days at Nottingham Forest.

"But there's a pass local owner, a realisatis important to its coSteve is from Bristof inal ly e wa w tch "But there's a passion with a local owner, a realisation a club is important to its community. Steve is from Bristol and he's finally enjoying watching his club." Cotterill, 50, was a rising star a dozen years ago - after two promotions with Cheltenham, he left the Icelandic owners at Stoke, who had tried to interfere in team selection, and became Howard Wilkinson's No.2 at Sunderland, with a promise of the top job.

It never materialised - and the past 12 years have largely been spent firefighting.

He said: "I don't know whether I will ever get my opportunity in the Premier League. I'll keep striving.

"I left Stoke after five months - though I should have left as soon as I got a letter from the Icelandic owners on team selection. I went to Sunderland and was promised I'd be a Premier League manager in 12 months...

"Then Burnley was a fight, we were inches from administration. I made them 15 million quid in transfers and cup runs, but I couldn't get 300 grand one day and I spat my dummy out and left. I shouldn't have because the team I put together won promotion. I was too impetuous.

"Portsmouth was a success, just keeping them alive. We had six players when I arrived. I was told we'd be in administration for six weeks... and six months and three owners later we still were.

"I left Portsmouth because I thought I'd get stability working for Nigel Doughty at Nottingham Forest and then God rest him, Nigel dies. Then I am in the hands of Kuwaitis - good luck! Or no luck..."

david.kidd@trinitymirror.com

I couldn't get 300 grand one day and I spat my dummy out & left the club

CAPTION(S):

SITTING PRETTY Cotterill is enjoying his time at the City helm
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:7ISRA
Date:Jan 24, 2015
Words:788
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