Newmains Boss Investing Future In Youth

After his first full season at the helm of Newmains United, boss Kevin Muirhead (pictured) gives thejuniors.info an insight into some of the ups and downs of life as a junior football manager.

You started the season with just six players. How have you found football management in your first season in the juniors?

“This season has been full of highs and low, just when you think you are getting a good squad together someone comes along and cherry picks a player! “This has happened to me five or six times this season and it knocks you back months in your planning. “The current group are all signed up for two years to help me stabilise the team and hopefully create a more competitive squad going forward. “In the past Newmains has had to allow players to move on so they can get an income, but myself and Bill Carrigan (Chairman) have been working hard to ensure we have good incomes streams and have already secured two years sponsorship of the home jersey.

“As for the football side of it, I have loved it, I love the competitiveness, the desire to win and being part of a dressing room. “Anyone who has played or coached football at any level will tell you that the dressing room is either the best place in the world or the loneliest but for me at Newmains we have a great squad mentality and everyone pushes each other as hard as they can so it’s a great atmosphere.

“In terms of recruiting players, I’ve found getting the right player in has been more difficult. “We have moved training to Glasgow which has helped and I’ve overhauled how the club approach things. “Bringing in Paul McKane, who has played at the top level, and for him to say he’s played with senior teams who are less professional than what we are doing at the club, is a huge pat on the back.

“We played our last game on Saturday and already I’m planning preseason and working hard to get players in. “I can’t wait for next season to start, for me football is an addiction.”

You were always looking to put foundations down at the club in your first season. How much do you think you’ve achieved, and what do you feel still needs done at Newmains?

“Newmains needing updating both on and off the park. “Everyone at the club is fairly new and we have been trying hard to engage with the local community and is something we will continue to do. “We have updated the social club so that will also provide an extra income throughout the season as well.

“In terms of playing staff, I have brought in a lot of young players who previously played with SPFL under 20 teams or good standard u21s, and used this season to give them a taste of junior football and I believe since Easter these players have progressed massively, and that gives me a great core squad to build on.

“There is a long-term plan at Newmains and this is only year one, so we are happy enough with how that is developing. “In the future, we are looking at community asset transfers and building our own astro pitch on the spare ground around the current pitch, something that will see Newmains growing with the income that it could provide.

What are some of your season highlights?

“Drawing 1-1 with Hermes who are a top Northern League team in the Scottish Cup was a particular highlight, I’m sure when they saw the draw they thought it was an easy bye into the next round but we were excellent that day and should really have beaten them.

“Being one down to the Ants and scoring two in injury time to win the game was pleasing, not just because we got the three points, but a week before I had a chat to the players and told them if their heart wasn’t in it, then they could leave. “That resulted in four players taking that option so it was a massive result with regards to squad moral also.”

Preseason starts in less than a month, have you got a core of players, and are you looking to add to your squad?

“Preseason will start on the 17th of June and we have retained around twelve players from the squad who finished the season with us. “In the closing stages of the season I brought in some trialist’s who look very good so they will hopefully join us. “As ever I will leave the door open to anyone who wants to come in for preseason and get a look at how we do things at Newmains through open training and trials. “People are starting to take notice of the massive changes that have taken place and the praise I am receiving is unbelievable for a team that finished bottom of the league.”

The club seem to be moving in the right direction off the field as well as on it. What’s happening at Victoria Park and how is it going?

“I have actively been involved in the long-term planning of what is going on a Newmains with Bill Carrigan and it really is exciting times. “I also have a degree in Sports Development so it’s getting put to great use with regards to funding, asset transfer and facility improvement. “We really want the local population to see the club as a community asset and have recently ran employability programmes at the park to help young people get into work when they leave school.

“Football is a great vehicle to support people when they most need it and that is the ethos Bill has been instilling up at Victoria Park. “When seeking sponsorship and partnerships we have chosen ethically and there will be a big announcement on that in coming weeks.”

Ambitions for next year?

“The young players in the squad have had a year to settle and its clear they are doing well. “I want to bring in a bit of experience and go and compete with the rest of the division. “The players who were 19/20 years old last season are now the senior members of the squad and we have a whole batch of 15 and 16 year olds coming through.”

You started a recent match with five youngsters in the side due to a depleted squad, how did that go?

“Against Albert we had a few players missing due to a stag party and a wedding, but I saw this game as the ideal opportunity to bring players in from the Newmains United Boys Club and I also added my own son Lennon to the team.

“Dylan Austin played in goals and has been excellent since I brought him in from Drumchapel Amateurs, he’s only sixteen, so has a great future ahead of him and a great mentor in Paul McKane.

“The plan was to leave the 15 year olds on the bench but Darren Muldoon took unwell before kick-off so I had no option but to start Lennon, who played 80 minutes and scored our first goal in the game – a proud moment for me as a father and manager! “I’ve asked him to sign for next season but he still fancies a crack at a higher level, and going by the way he got on the ball and caused problems I tend to agree with him.”

“Also need to give a special mention to Paddy McCabe the manager at the boys club who is doing an excellent job, another aspect that excites me is this group of players who are ready to come through and play for the juniors.”

 

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