The Big Interview: Sean Kenney (Kilbride Thistle AFC)

What was your Playing Experience in Football before Kilbride Thistle AFC?

When I was young I had a brief spell with St Johnstone and then with the very successful Wolves Boys Club in Carmyle before moving from Tollcross to West Kilbride. I absolutely loved my time at Wolves, great memories of winning with my team mates and coaches.

When did you join Kilbride Thistle, and in what capacity?

I started playing for Kilbride Thistle (then known as West Kilbride Boys) when I moved to West Kilbride so I was about 10 years old. That’s coming up on 22 years ago!

Please define the roles you have occupied at the Club?

I started as a player at under 10s and was the proud captain of the club until I had to retire through a work injury when I was 25.

Since then I’ve been President, Coach, Assistant Manager, Scout and the past 2 seasons I’ve been the Manager. Basically whatever needs done I’ll do it, the same as loads of guys at most clubs.

I’ve been trying to delegate a lot more the past couple of seasons but being a control freak I sometimes find that hard! Thankfully we’ve added a great structure at the club since Lockdown and there’s a lot more people who I trust who are in and playing their part.

What have been the best memories both as a Player and Manager?

I’ve had so many brilliant memories at this club it’s really hard to narrow it down. Winning the league as Captain in 2013 was superb but I think getting promoted from the First Division to the Premier Division meaning we got promoted every season since we started and the way we done it over the season was a tremendous achievement for the club. From where we were in pre season (4 players left at the club after the majority of the squad left to join our rivals) to where we finished was excellent.

It was nice to score the promotion winning goal as well!!

The things I’m most proud of with the club is probably stuff that has happened off the park. There’s been some really sad things that I won’t go into that have happened off the park and the way the boys really look after each other and step up for one another is something I’ll always be proud of them for. It’s a great group of boys we’ve had for the past few years and that’s why we’re very careful who we add to the team. They have to be the right fit on and off the park. It has probably stopped me signing some top players but if I don’t think they’re right for the group then I won’t sign them.

In terms of Coaching and Management, who has been your biggest influence moving through from Coaching into Management?

Well when I was growing up my dad managed the local team in Tollcross. There was nothing better than going watching them up The Venchie on a Sunday.

At Wolves I had great coaches in Shug Bracelin and Derek Morrison who just helped and encouraged us all to love football from a young age.

Of course my Gaffer at The Thistle was John Bell and he’s a club legend. John done so much for the club and largely on his own for well over 20 years. He made me his captain and we had a great relationship. We tended to have our disagreements because we worked closely together and we’re both passionate guys but not usually in front of the boys and it was always done respectfully and no grudges held.

4 great guys who I’m very lucky to have had guide me and give me a boot up the backside at times when needed along the way and trust me, there’s been plenty of them!

Please define your style of Management?

I’m a very lucky manager. I’ve got some top players playing for me who make me look good. Good players make a manager look good and crap players make a manager look crap!

I really hate this question because I think it’s better if others answer it but I’d like to think we create an environment where people come in and enjoy being here. I believe it’s the players job to come to training but it’s the coaching teams job to make them want to come back by putting on good sessions.

The boys work hard and are very ambitious but we’re also a tight group off the pitch. I hope the boys think I’m honest with them and have good relationships with them all.

I love the club and I’m very proud of the group of boys that I have and I think they deserve the best. I try to make sure they don’t want for anything off the park and make sure they know their jobs on it. Again though, good players make all this stuff easier.

What are your ambitions moving forward for yourself and the Club?

I want to build Kilbride Thistle up on and off the park and take us as high up the pyramid system as we can go.

Next season we will have 4 teams under the club name and we’ll be looking to add more each year.

I’m delighted we have finally started with our youth department. That is something that will be massive for the club and something I’ve wanted to do since we went amateur 10 years ago.

As well as the youth teams we will have women and disability football teams as the club grows.

I think it’s vitally important we give back to the community who are great to us and we will be introducing a charity department at the club who will help us work with local charities and help raise funds and exposure for them in any way we can.

On the footballing side of things I’m a very ambitious guy and I want to manage as high as I possibly can.

I believe this club can climb through the leagues and become a very successful club along with the top clubs already in our community.

This is obviously very ambitious but 25 years ago we started as an under 6’s team and look how far we’ve come since then!

Let’s see what the next 25 years brings.

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