The Big Interview: Former League Winner Shares Amateur Players’ Frustration

PAUL GORDON still harbours an ambition to manage a West of Scotland League club – and today admitted he does not envy those amateur officials currently trying to support players with mental health or physical concerns during Covid-19.

Having known Paul from his playing days – he is only 32 years of age with Kirkintilloch Rob Roy and Maryhill FC, my opening question was answered without any hesitation: “Would he like to manage an Amateur club right now.”?

“Absolutely, No! “ was the reply. “Plenty of people from various areas of the game have questioned where the science is that says amateur football has added to the amount of cases. Times like these have really made me miss football – it must be worse for guys who are playing or managing/ coaching.

“Even when teams are allowed back on muddy parks they won’t have dressing rooms or showers but amateur lads are  just desperate to play!”

Paul helped Yoker amateurs win a Championship and domestic cups – answering a  mate’s approach to join the playing squad – in the SSMAFL, so he is qualified to offer a comparison opinion on the standards of morning and afternoon football.

He said ” I played with Yoker from around November onwards. I also won titles at  Bridgewater AFC as a player (Saturday afternoon), and managed them when we reached the Scottish Amateur Cup Semi-Finals in 2018.”

“I think Saturday afternoon clubs have a different mindset. A bit more prestige, but the standard of Saturday Morning football has definitely improved.”

“I played for Bridgewater when they first started and they had standards above some of the junior clubs.  I’ve never been at an amateur club that hasn’t been well kitted out.”

“When I took over as Bridgewater manager I was only 28-29 years old. We had 9 players for the first session at Erskine Beach. I was bringing boys in I didn’t even know, but I told them to stick with it. We kicked off from Christmas to March, and played some amazing football.”

“Previously Bridgewater had won successive titles in the SAFL and people within the club thought that we should be winning things every season. Too many players talk about wanting to win, but aren’t really willing to put the effort and commitment in that is required. I knew the players  and needed a couple of years to build a team again ( he wasn’t afforded the opportunity).”

“We had already switched from the SAFL to the Fosters League, which was a huge step-up bearing in mind what I started with.(9 players). It finished an anti-climax after missing out on promotion, but I still consider it was a great season. The guys were great for me.”

Since March, the world has been in a different place, and Paul has tackled two additional challenges head-on. In September,. he ran a specially designed West of Scotland League marathon, which should only have covered. Glasgow-based (junior) clubs. Money raised he tells  me “just shy of £2100” helped raise awareness of Love Oliver Charity, and with that went to  support friends of his family who have a child that has Retinoblastoma (a form of Eye Cancer).

Paul laughed “I had joined a running club to help me prepare. I was never great at running in training when I played. I got lost on the route and added on a mile and a half going to Glencairn and Cambuslang Rangers!”

Despite the mishap, a 9am start from Drumchapel (West League) took him along to such grounds as Maryhill (a former club), Ashfield, Pollok, Benburb and finished with St Anthony, where his next chapter in the Coaching CV is about to  unfold or will it?

The Govan Ants have linked-up with Erskine Boys’ Club who will form their Under-20 Development Squad. Manager Dom McDonald has worked with most of the players for many years through to Under-19 level, and has been searching other club’s age groups to  addi extra depth and quality.

Paul added “Two of the young lads have already been in with the first team.”

“My role will be as a coach. I am really big on team shape. I believe if your team has a good shape about them, you can compete against anyone.”

“I don’t know anything about the players and have not even met them or other coaches due to the restrictions. I might not  even get to coach them until next year, so it is a bit strange and frustrating.”

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