Gavin Kirkwood Interview

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Chris Sanderson caught up with Gavin and here is what he had to say…

WHICH CLUBS DID YOU PLAY FOR DURING YOUR CAREER?
Bo’ness United, Armadale Thistle, Arniston Rangers and Pumpherston.

DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO BE A GOALKEEPER?
No. Initially I played full back for the school, then midfield for my juvenile team. The goalie was ill one day so I was volunteered to go in goal. The rest is history!

AS A YOUNGSTER WHO WAS YOUR HERO?
As a goalkeeper it was Pat Jennings

CAN YOU REMEMBER YOUR JUNIOR DEBUT?
Yes. For Bo’ness v Camelon in a league game at Newtown Park. We won 2-1.

YOUR MOST MEMORABLE GAME YOU PLAYED IN?
Scottish Junior Cup Final 1984

WHAT’S THE BEST SAVE YOU’VE EVER MADE?
Probably in the Junior Cup Semi Final in 1983 at Rugby Park, Kilmarnock against Auchinleck Talbot. Denis Gray hit a shot from point blank range, I managed to stick a hand out whilst going the wrong way to divert the ball away from the goal. We won 1-0 but lost in the final to East Kilbride.

THE MOST CRUCIAL SAVE YOU’VE EVER MADE?
A few years ago. Camelon v Bo’ness. Bo’ness were fighting against relegation. I was on the bench when Greg Logan was sent off with around seven minutes left. I managed to save the resultant penalty and we hung on to win 2-1. We managed to stay in the Super League that season

IT MUST HAVE BEEN GREAT TO GO BACK AFTER LOSING THE SCOTTISH FINAL IN 1983 AND GO WIN IT A YEAR LATER?
Yes, it was. I always remember Andrew McFarlane, our President telling us at the Town Hall after the defeat that East Kilbride only had a loan of the cup and we’d get it back next year!

WHAT ABOUT ‘THAT’ GOAL?
Unbelievable feeling when Lex scored! Unfortunate when John Barnes scored a very similar goal for England against Brazil the same day! Lex’s goal was better though!

WHAT OTHER HONOURS DID YOU WIN?
Everything except a league winner’s medal.

BIGGEST DISAPOINTMENT OF YOUR CAREER?
Not winning a league winners medal!

WHO WERE YOUR MOST DIFFICULT OPPONENTS AND WHY?
While at Bo’ness it was Camelon at Carmuirs Park. Although I always enjoyed playing there I very seldom won.

FUNNIEST MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?
Probably our end of season weekends away whilst at Arniston. Great times

AT WHAT AGE AND WHAT WAS THE REASON YOU RETIRED FOR?
I was 48 when I eventually stopped playing, having played a few games for Pumpherston under Roddy MacDonald. I was assisting him as goalkeeping coach. He and Pumphy parted ways at the end of the season. I went with him.

ANY REGRETS?
Absolutely not. Enjoyed every minute of my career.

DO THE MODERN DAY GOALKEEPERS HAVE IT EASY COMPARED TO YOUR DAY – MORE PROTECTED/NOW ICY PITCHES TO CONTEND WITH?
Yes. Definitely. Wee spot of rain or snow the game is off. We played in all sorts. Protection? They are probably more protected these days, yes.

MOST CLUBS HAVE A GOALKEEPING COACH THESE DAYS – IN YOUR DAY YOU WERE VERY MUCH LEFT TO GET ON WITH IT?
I was very lucky. At my juvenile club (Livingston Baptist’s) we were sponsored by the church, they brought in a goalkeeping coach called Bill Lowe to help me. I’ve got to thank him and Bob Pender, my manager for their help all these years ago.

WHO WAS THE BEST MANAGER YOU PLAYED UNDER?
It’s a toss-up between Lenny Reid at Bo’ness who was ahead of his time with his training techniques and Jackie Myles at Arniston. He didn’t say much but lead by example and built a really good team who played together and socialised together.

ARE YOU STILL INVOLVED IN THE GAME IN ANY CAPACITY?
I’m currently coaching the under 15’s team at Gairdoch United and thoroughly enjoying it

WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE PLAYED IN THIS CURRENT JUNIOR SET-UP WITH THE SUPER-LEAGUE’S?
How old do you think I am? Lol. I played in the very first Super League season with Arniston. Coming very close to winning it, only losing to Whitburn on goal difference.. It certainly improved the standard of football in the new leagues. The attendances went up accordingly. I also played latterly in the South League with Pumpherston where we played in front of very sparse crowds. Got to admire the committee men and women who keep these smaller teams going week in, week out. They do a marvellous job.

BU 1983

Photos from Bo’ness United

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