Secret footballer part 3

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From inside the dressing room – The Secret ‘Junior’ Footballer

Question of the week

“Would you like to test yourself at a higher level?”

Of course I would love to be good enough for a club to take a chance on me. I have many reservations of playing at a higher level such as the travel, the commitment of making training sometimes 3 times a week. My experience is that Junior managers are often more understanding of work and family commitments that may take priority than senior managers are and for me I often need this understanding. I feel that my chance may have come and gone and I’m happy with what I’ve achieved and where I am, but I guess much like the old adage I will “never say never.”


This week I want to talk about managers, much like players some are good, some are great, some are average and some are shocking. I’ve come across many different types in my career, I always think I’ve seen it all then one will surprise me by doing something new.

I’ve never been a manager nor do I see myself ever being in that position, it’s far too stressful for me especially to take on part time on top of everything life already throws at you on a daily basis. You see managers are not only guys who pick a team and take a couple of training sessions a week as I’m sure most of them would rush point out. It truly is 24/7, watching games, taking calls, making calls, planning training, taking training sessions and so on and so forth and that’s just to cover the football aspect of managing a squad let alone the fact they often become a social worker for players problems. Endless hours are devoted to trying to do the best for their respective clubs, and I admire them for giving so much to it for little reward at this grade.

For any managers reading this, I truly do admire you for doing the job you do and can only imagine how tough it really is. A relationship between a manager and a player is very fragile, liable to collapse at any time. One week they will be best friends, the next they will at each other’s throats it’s just part and parcel of the game. There are so many disagreements and it’s impossible to keep everyone happy and that’s where the problems begin.
I’ve fallen out with managers more than I can count, never irreversibly so but certainly had several shouting matches and sometimes even fisticuffs over the years. It’s just the way it is in a changing room, in fact more often than not people will think there’s a problem if there isn’t that volatility between managers and players in certain occasions.

It’s a cut throat business and managers are often lonely, they face the flak, they are the fall guys when things go wrong. With this in mind they can cut themselves adrift from the very people they need to perform, the players. I’ve seen it, players hate being questioned, hate being scrutinised, they will group together, form cliques and it’ll be the gaffers fault. The excuse handbook comes out and its poor training or the tactics aren’t right for the squad etc etc. We are a sensitive bunch us players, it’s a team sport and we are brought up learning to stick together, this can often make it difficult to accept that you and your mates aren’t doing enough and its then easier to point the finger of blame elsewhere.

All of that said, manager don’t half make it difficult for themselves sometimes. There is a habit nowadays of overcomplicating everything, from training drills to tactics everyone seems to want to find a different way of doing things. Too many of us watch football on TV and think we can replicate that, quite frankly we can’t and the quicker some managers realise it the better. We work 4 hours a week on the training pitch not 20 like these full time clubs. “Gegen-pressing”,”tiki-taka” all of these buzzwords that are spoken throughout football punditry and managers go about trying to re-create this with players who haven’t got half the ability or fitness of the top pros. I know personally and for most dressing rooms I’ve been in, players who have been at work all day want football to be enjoyable, simple effective training routines where we are not having to overthink and overwork the brain is where the most success will come from. Brain Clough once said “tactics don’t lose you football games, players do.” Never has a truer word been spoken, set the team up however you like it won’t be the tactic that hurts you, it’ll be a player not doing his job right, so keep each job simple and ask each man to carry out their duties as best they can and you will find things go wrong a lot less often.

My other huge bug bear is managers never tell you what they are actually thinking, they are always hell bent on keeping their cards close to their chest and yes in some situations this is understandable. I want transparency from my manager all players do. If you are out of the team you want an honest answer why, if you are in signing talks you want them to be honest about their vision and how they see you fitting into that. I’ve signed for clubs only to find out everything I was told was bulls**t and that instantly resonated to me having no trust or faith in the manager and that is a precarious position for a manager to be in with any player.

If you are a manager and you are reading this, trust me the simpler you keep it, the more open and honest you are with your players the easier it will be for you to connect and get the desired results, as well as having a group you can trust through thick and thin because teamwork and sticking together is engrained in us. We all want the same success, we just need to find the best way to do it, the first thing is that the manager and their players are in the same boat and are happy with each other.

Result of the week

Musselburgh Athletic 0-3 Bonnyrigg Rose

Bonnyrigg feature for the second week running, this time on the back of a great result for them. What a way to bounce back from the Scottish demolition at the hands of Pollok. A 3 nil win away at Musselburgh who sit fourth in the league and going into the game were only 4 points off Bonnyrigg in top spot. Musselburgh would have fancied themselves at home especially with Bonnyrigg’s previous result, so fair play to Robbie Horns men a much needed win to put the cup nightmare out of their minds and move on in their charge for the title.

Game of the weekend

Auckinleck Talbot v Kirkintilloch Rob Roy

A huge game in the west region this weekend Rob Roy travel to Auckinleck home of the current champions. Rob Roy have surprised many, myself included hanging around the top of the table almost midway through the season. Auckinleck have had a stop start season and haven’t really got motoring yet but I expect them to finish strong. Rob Roy will know if they want to be serious contenders they need to take something from Saturday, Talbot on the other hand have been over the course several times and will know defeat will leave them a huge mountain to climb with little margin for error.
As always any feedback is welcome and I can be found at

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