Tam McManus

Martkmak caught up with the Gartcairn star.

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Gartcairn Juniors hit the headlines in the summer after being accepted as a member of SJFA West Region, the first junior side to play in Airdrie since Airdrie Juniors folded just before the outbreak of World War 2. The ambitious side set their stall out early and sent a shot over the bows of Central District Second Division rivals, by signing ex pro Jamie Pollock and managing to convince ex Hibee, Tam McManus out of his early retirement.

Tam had an excellent eighteen year career in professional football, starting at Hibs before moving on and playing further spells in Scotland, England, Ireland and the USA. After having a disappointing experience at League of Ireland side Limerick last season, Tam took the decision to hang up his boots and move back home to Scotland. Tam took time out this week to speak to TheJuniors.info about his time in football, Gartcairn and his future aspirations in the game.

Speaking of some of his favourite moments in his career to date, Tam told TheJuniors.info that “The highlights of my career undoubtedly have been getting the chance to play with some big clubs, in particular Hibs and scoring great goals at Parkhead and Ibrox, scoring in an Edinburgh Derby at Tynecastle and Dundee Derby at Tannadice. “Beating Celtic and Rangers to get to the League Cup Final was thrilling but losing to Livingston undoubtedly my biggest low in football.” And on his two spells in the USA “The MLS was fantastic, the stadiums, cities and standard of football all superb, plus off the field the lifestyle and weather in Colorado could never be matched in Scotland. “The USL was very good as well though some very long bus journeys took the shine off it a little.”

Tam had two spells in the League of Ireland during his career, firstly with Derry City and then some time at Limerick, both occasions not ending as well as Tam would have liked “Derry City was a great club with great fans although unfortunately the year I was there, off the pitch the club had financial problems and went bust owing me and others a lot of money. “Limerick was a shambles from start to finish, never been treated worse in eighteen years in football from the people running the club, enough said about them.”

His Limerick experience led to Tam leave the game and left him contemplating his future for a time “After a terrible experience in Limerick I kinda got sickened with playing and for six months after it, I didn’t kick a ball nor want to, but gradually I started to miss it again and after getting a few calls, decided I wanted to get back into it with Gartcairn, who were the best people I spoke to and definitely not the most financially lucrative but good football men.”

“Gartcairn has been great so far, I take all the training for the players and have input pre and post match which is vitally important as a young coach to gain that experience with men and not kids. “It’s a big thing and the main reason I choose to come to Gartcairn plus so far we are unbeaten in the league and have beat teams in leagues above us in the Cup, so it’s going well.”
Since joining the Airdrie outfit, Tam has been impressed with the set up at the club and particularly with the youth academy ”The Gartcairn academy is fabulous, there are so many kids and coaches involved in the Airdrie area, it’s vitally important they are coached properly which I have seen at first hand that they are. “It’s all about enjoying the game at a young age, not winning every game and the pressure that goes with that, but technique and learning good habits. ”I have took sessions myself at various age groups and enjoyed it too.”

Like many people in Scottish football, Tam hasn’t experienced much of the junior game as he pointed out “Too be honest I have not seen a lot of junior football, bar my brother Kevin a few times who played with St Roch’s and done well with them. “It’s obviously very tough and physical, especially the lower you go down. “Having never even played part time in senior football to going to the bottom league in junior football is a massive jump and can be highly frustrating at times, more so with myself and my own team mates as opposed to opposition players, I can’t lie but I try and help the other players as much as possible on and off the pitch as that’s in part why I’m here.”

Since getting involved with junior football, Tam has been impressed and has a message for those of you, yet to take in a game or two “Junior football is the nuts and bolts of the Scottish game, with lots of good people and players at this level, and you are guaranteed thrills and spills and teams wanting to win the game at all times and going for it, so I would encourage people to go and watch a junior game, especially a Gartcairn game of course.”

Tam is in doubt where his future in football lies and is determined to put his experience at Gartcairn to good use “Coaching is now the next step for me and I’m really now starting to enjoy it, getting lots of hours and sessions under my belt putting together training plans team talks etc, and gaining valuable experience speaking in front of players.”

“I want to go on and manage/coach at the highest level and have played under Premiership, International and World Cup winning managers, so I have had very good teachers and have learned and studied from all of them. “So in six to twelve months time I would like to be back in senior football as either a manager or assistant manager, whether that be here or in the USA, with this experience at Gartcairn in the locker.”

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