The Big Interviews – End Of Year Review

One of the ideas I brought on board after joining the “team” at Scottish Amateur Football News during the summer recess was “The Big Interviews” writes Tom Scott. These I perceived would give our daily followers and readers a better grasp of those who have been at the sharp end of the amateur game. Between now and hopefully Christmas, I will be picking out some of those INTERVIEWS I have featured.

We hope you enjoyed them! Quite a few topped Readers Viewing figures during their particular week.

First Up is PAUL GORDON, who shared current players’ frustrations on being banned from playing the beautiful game. Paul Gordon still harbours an ambition to manage a West of Scotland League club – and 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 still 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 on 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. It finished an anti-climx 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 age groups to add extra depth and quality.

Paul added ” Two of the young !ads 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 complete 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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