Chief Writer Tom Scott puts another well-known and respected Manager into his Interview Spotlight – Martin Guthrie, of Weir AFC.
Martin has packed plenty memories into 28 years at the Glasgow South Side club – on and off the park – and he exclusively reveals plenty of them.
Can you give us your footballing background prior to joining Weir A.F.C. both from playing and coaching/ management?
“I played for a few different teams around the Gorbals area where I was from, then Partick Thistle for a year, before Clyde over 3 years. I left when they were moving to Broadwood . At the time, I was working and I didn’t fancy the travelling to Cumbernauld 3 times a week. A couple of boys I had played with before asked me to go to Weirs. I had never heard of them but I went along to training with my mate and was stunned by the facilities they had and signed almost straight away.”
“A lot of teams still used red ash in those days, so to be able to play on a big grass pitch that was like a bowling green made it an easy decision.”
How many years have you been involved with Weir, and in what roles?
“I’ve been at Weirs the most part of 28 years. I joined in 1993 and played for the Under-21s before moving to the Amateurs. We had teams in the Caledonian and GGP Leagues and I took over as Manager of the Greater Glasgow Premier League team in 2014. With the Caledonian team struggling for numbers for a while, the club decided to go down to just one team in 2017 , and we took the decision to fold the GGPL team and I took over the Caley team. The Caley is a great League, but most away games were an hour or so away, so we decided to move back to the GGPL for this season as the majority of boys don’t drive, and it would have been a nightmare trying to get everyone to games.”
What has your recruitment process been during the current pandemic, and have you been able to play any friendlies?
“We’ve brought up our Under- 19s squad from last season. They’re a group of boys who have been together for 4 or 5 years , and are used to winning Leagues and Cups at their own age group. We thought the next step was to bring them Amateur and hopefully they can progress more.”
“We have also got a few lads from Unded-21s teams.”
“We managed to get 3 friendly games in before the shutdown winning two and losing one. This will be most of the players’ 1st Season playing at Amateur level, but we have every confidence that they’ll adapt in time , and hopefully start challenging for trophies.”
Have you any stories of players offering up “unusual” excuses for missing a training session or games?
“Nothing really springs to mind to be honest. We tell the players to be honest and give us a bit of notice if they can’t make it for whatever reason. It is Amateur Football, so you are relying on boys to have the right mentality and motivation to make themselves available for training and games.”
Who is the best player( s) you have ever worked with, and what qualities were you able to identify?
“I’ve played with loads of great players, so I’ll pick guys that I played a few years with. Tommy Montgomery who’s now Yoker Athletic FC Manager, and the 3 Esplin brothers Stuart, Stevie and Allan were all great players. Monty hardly ever gave the ball away, and was a constant talker on the pitch and was good at motivating the boys around him. Stuart was the best I’ve ever seen in the air. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him lose a header, Stevie had a wand of a left peg, and Allan was good box to box.”
Finally, many Managers I have spoken to fear Players or Clubs could be lost to Amateur Football due to the pandemic ie…frustration over lack of training/ games etc. What is your assessment?
“I think Amateur Football has been treated unfairly by the powers that be as we have followed all the Protocols put in place , and we are the only level of football that has been stopped. The Government has the impression that amateur teams are just a bunch of fat guys going for a runabout, then a trip to the pub, which couldn’t be further from the truth. A lot of amateur teams are run better than some pro- teams in my opinion, and unfortunately teams could fold as a result of the restrictions. I can only go on our experience, and our boys are desperate to get back training and playing. I hope our League doesn’t go down the route of others in cancelling the season. I am hoping when we get the go- ahead to play we go straight into playing League games – even if we’ve not had much training beforehand. I would rather do that to get as many games in as possible than play meaningless friendlies.”