Between the Posts

BETWEEN THE POSTS

WELCOME to the first of a new series of articles at the juniors.info site, writes Tom Scott.

BETWEEN THE POSTS will feature exclusives, opinions and views from goalkeepers – past and present – coaches and managers who have experienced the highs and lows of trying to keep the ball out of the net.

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The position and huge expectations that follow have changed dramatically over the years – including the passback rule – and a far cry from the days when anyone deemed hopeless as an outfield player was told: “Here, your turn to go in goals!”

Experienced goalkeeping coach CHRIS TODD has worked with plenty of grassroots talent in a 20 year association at the longest-running Academy set-up in Scotland. Along with junior goalkeeper Stephen Mather, the pair have constructed a Group 3 packed with different ages and grades of football.

The latest talent to gain recognition is 18-year-old SCOTT WATSON.

The Parkmoor B.C. custodian first came to the attention of the Shot Stoppers Academy Head Coach during a Scottish Youth Football Association indoor session at Toryglen in Glasgow.

Said Chris: “Scott was one of seven names who had been put forward for West Region trial selection by their coaches.

“At that time, Shot Stoppers had set-up the first ever coaching programme for the Scottish Youth Football Association – something we still remain very proud of – but we were not responsible for the final three gaining selection. To our amazement, Scott was never chosen, and that prompted our coaches to invite him back again for other Friday sessions, but also the Academy stints at Giffnock North.

“At the end of that initial Friday night at Toryglen, we approached Scott’s parents, Kenny and Jean, thinking that because their son played for Parkmoor, they must live in or around the Erskine area. You could say we were stunned when they announced the family lived in Beith.

“Not only was Mr Watson keen to have Scott in for the Friday nights, but also the Saturday morning coaching, where we took Scott to completely new levels. It has been the making of him because he has gone right through the Shot Stoppers structure from Group One to Group Three.

“I want to thank Beith manager John Miller and his backroom staff for showing the same faith in Scott as we have, plus it is great that he has signed for his local junior team.

“I along with other coaches at Shot Stoppers have gone into junior football clubs – among them Dunipace, Cambuslang Rangers, Maryhill, Pollok, Petershill and Rutherglen Glencairn – over the years and worked with their goalies at least once a week, but even the need to have that done nowadays has died off. I have to ask the question – why?”

Having gone through the same process as Scott Watson, coach Chris, a boys club product of Gairdoch United anda diehard Falkirk supporter, came through the ranks with the likes of David Marshall ( Celtic), Andy Carlin ( Morton),Brian Hamlton ( Ayr United), Scott Bennett ( Forfar), Andrew Buchanan ( Stirling Albion) and Steven McGovern ( Airdrie).

Said Chris: “Those were great days, and I had no hesitation in accepting a group place when I was a youngster atGairdoch United. I travelled through to Glasgow twice a week from Falkirk, but Scott Bennett stayed further awaythan me – he came from Dundee!

“I signed for East Stirling, but whenever we were at home made the journey into Giffnock North every Saturday morning because it helped my game in the afternoon. It worked as I was voted Young Player and Supporters’ Player of the Year.

“Shot Stoppers had and still does have a great name, and I still get a buzz now as a group coach. Stephen Matherhas been here for 17 years, and frankly we have both seen changes in goalkeeper’s attitudes over the past few seasons.Lack of application and discipline are two of the main reasons why youngsters don’t progress – and you can add on they don’t want to work at their own game.”

Chris is proud of the part Shot Stoppers has played in developing goalkeepers – like Scott Watson – who haveimproved beyond recognition. Liam Campbell won the Scottish Under-19 Cup with Drumchapel United – one of eight national winners at the Academy which celebrates going into their 23rd season in August – and after a successful stint with Clydebank Juniors has signed on for another year at Yoker Athletic.

He added: “Liam had fantastic spring for a young lad and he was named Man of the Match when Drumchapelwon the Scottish Cup at Airdrie.

“David Marshall still keeps in regular touch from his home in Cardiff, and we have been recommended potential talent by other lads who attended Shot Stoppers, so that speaks volumes for what we are trying to achieve here – and long make it continue!”

PICTURE: LIAM CAMPBELL, left, is a former attendee of the Shot Stoppers Goalkeeping Coaching Academy, and is pictured with Chris Todd, and young Daniel McLaughlin (right)

Apart from properly developing goalkeeping talent of all ages and grades of football, Shot Stoppers has racked up over 200 trophies during their proud 22-year history.
* Photograph kindly supplied by Shot Stoppers.

END….

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