Another fantastic evening for a club re-birthed and reconstructing processes learning protocol to run football matches off the pitch whilst we replicate that on the pitch.
So it started with a haircut…I thought, I’m looking a bit ‘Gordon Strachan’ (in his heyday) or maybe Cilla Black here. Going to have to get the groundsman on it if I don’t tackle it.
So I sat in the chair, who would have thought football frustrations would come out here? “You’re the Dunstable Town manager now aren’t you”? Yes I am. “I would love to be a football coach” he said. “Well why don’t you then”? I replied. He said, “Well, I did my badges but I gave it up. I really want to do the big stuff”. I responded again, “So….why don’t you then”? He said “Well nothing came up. Really I would want to be the Luton Town manager”. At that point a lot of frowns appeared on my head along with confused eyebrows and shocked eyes. “Really, Luton Town? fair play mate, maybe I would suggest you learn your trade for a few years, keep learning. Go and coach a kid’s team and start learning”? He said, “Well I only want to coach at pro level and it’s hard to get in so I left it”. I thought to myself, wow, I coached for years in grass roots, I coached senior amateur teams and spent over a decade coaching in academies as well as working in senior pro environments. This guy wants to bypass all of that? I wanted to go from that shocked emoji to the one of the monkey with its head in its hands, but I feared it could ruin my rapidly improving appearance. Then he continued, “well I also want to be a scout, that’s where I really see myself, scouting players”. For a split second my ears pricked up, I actually could do with some help scouting, this is a young keen guy maybe. So I asked, “oh, fair play. Do you go to a lot of games?” He replied, no, I haven’t been to a game for years”. “Oh, but you want to be Luton Town manager, when was the last time you watched them?” He said “I can’t remember, years. The last actual game I went to was at craven cottage, Fulham v Man Utd and Ryan Giggs scored with the outside of his foot volley” I did another shocked face. Now in my head I’m thinking, that’s years ago. I remember the goal. A quick check when I got home it's 10 years ago. I rarely go 10 days without seeing a live game! So, my head went a bit “You do know that the current Luton Town manager has done all the things you are refusing to do, as well as played a lot of games”? I’ve also coached for 20 years and been at several pro clubs and studied hard and now I’m at club 'beneath him'.
As I left I was thinking how that attitude was consistent with a lot of footballers. They want all the lavish lifestyle and celebrity life, but are not willing to do the hard part in between. Then they wonder why they fail. Is this there fault or simply a culture of young people gaining celebrity status on fast-tracked reality TV shows? Why go to acting school? Why bother? Why write great comedy? Why bother? Why work on great presenter skills with knowledge? Why train in professional entertainment? You don’t need to go through all that, you can bypass it. I wonder if many young people now think football is the same. Do they think there will be a reality TV show football club that takes people out of there lazy lives and thrusts them into stardom and all they need to do is act stupid, talk without any amount of respect and decency and parade around half naked and be promiscuous. Bingo, I’m a footballer or a football manager.
|Andy Millman (Ricky Gervais) addresses show makers|
I think this was brilliantly illustrated and so well written in the series Extras by Ricky Gervais with the character Andy Millman having a realisation of his life having been on celebrity Big Brother pointing at the camera saying “f*ck you, the makers of this and you lot for watching” after describing how desperate you must be to want to be famous so much you hand in your dignity at the door.
I think this is one of my favourite speeches of all time Extras Speech It makes me think about football and how its changed with so many quitting after they don't 'make it'. So why did you play in the first place? Was it to be famous or becasue you loved football?
Anyway, the Football…
I must extend a huge thank you to the ground staff at Creasey Park because the pitch is looking tremendous. Overall as we go through pre-season you can see the new bunch of lads learning about each other. We are on a very steep learning curve and I have to say a unique situation for me. But that is the challenge I relished. Perspective is something we have to keep reminding ourselves of. We are a very young team, they are impressionable. In some cases they are lacking a bit of confidence and they don’t realise how good they are. But it will come. Because we are not lacking ability.
|Tyeeeq Bakinson along with Freddie Hinds now Bristol City |
& Cameron McJannett now Stoke City
I had a very warm chat with Andy Awford as he shared some of the work they do from a holistic view of player development at Luton Town. It would be wrong to go into detail but I was really impressed with the approach to ensure young chaps are afforded equal opportunity. He also spoke about the importance of creating good people with life skills. Well done Andy and thanks for bringing them to Dunstable Town. Although it is a reality check to be looking young men in the eye that I coached when they were 11/12/13/. It fills me with personal pride to see them doing so well. I remember a young Arthur Read and complimenting him only for my fellow coaches to remind me that I always rate the ginger haired players. Well I don’t think anyone that was at last night’s game would disagree that I think I have been proven right as he pretty much dominated midfield with very clever movement and rotation and use of good first touch and passing range. Good to also have Tyeeq Bakinson also come to me and say hi, such a nice humble well mannered young man. I recall his parents well and I know they will love to hear that. I wish him and all them other lads huge success and nothing would fill me with more delight than to see one or two take the field in the football league, let’s hope in a gleaming new stadium and gleaming new era for our professional neighbours.
One of the challenges we face with our brand new crop of players is self-belief and confidence. We have to remind ourselves that we also were a very young team. Dare I say, not your typical Step 3 Southern league semi-professional outfit currently. Added to to that we have had 9 training sessions, in our lives as a team. In those 9 sessions we have had to fit in a recruitment program, followed by a pre-season. When most of our competitors were starting pre-season games in gleaming new kit, we were still drilling down on a new squad selection after rustling together some footballs. So, this is very much a fledgling outfit. All things considered then I feel we are in exciting times when you consider that against two excellent similar level teams we have more than held our own and have put fear into team’s defenses. These lads have got a load of work to do, but I’m so proud of them already. We had two 17 year olds on the pitch yesterday. I’m so confident in their ability, they are not filled with that confidence yet, but they should be, they were terrific. When I see Aaron Hudson whipping down the line, beating his opponent, showing great skill I couldn’t help but smile. The score didn’t bother me one bit in moments like that. Brandy Makuendi in centre midfield also, you wouldn’t believe he is just 18 as he demands the ball and shows great ability to stay on it. That’s bravery. Nimmy up front, 17, hangs on every word you tell him. I think if I asked him to make his runs from the defending corner flag he would do it. These young men are learning fast and we will watch them mature as young men as we go. In the next bracket we have a group of 19-23 year olds desperate to learn and willing to work hard to improve. That leaves some pressure on our experienced ‘old’ players, Scott Betts (24) and Skipper John Sonuga (28). These chaps have shown great calmness. Fantastic role models.
Overall Luton Town dominated this game. That statement is not an embarrassing one to make. Tactically we needed to place ourselves in better positions to be able to make contact and we know that now and will work on it. A shift in shape helped with that and for the first time it allowed us to get forward in a sustained attack. There keeper made a good save from electric Ryan Young (he will terrify teams this season), that would have been 1-1. Instead a combination of errors from us allowed them to tap in a second.
Of course we still have a lot of questions to answer as to who and where so from that point we had to remind ourselves that we are preparing for a season and therefore we have to put preparation ahead of the result as we moved personnel around and tried some different things.
So, full credit to Luton Town lads and another good work out for our lads as we get nearer to the season.
We should give a mention to the guys off the pitch. The people who volunteered to save this club and now work tirelessly to get the club prepared for genuine football matches. We still have kit to sort out, we are rustling together water bottles for the lads along with many other things which they are sorting and have sorted. But the ladies and gentlemen behind the scenes are all on the same page in that we want to create a togetherness and professional approach from here in. There is a real solution and can do approach and it has created a buzz around the pitch and place. The fans have been brilliant to the players, they understand the dynamics and there patience and support is hugely appreciated. The amount of young children in Dunstable Town and Luton Town kits enjoying a night out was also great to see.
Ive got to thank all the people that have stepped forward to help me and the club already. Like my old colleague from west London Justin Lucas-Hill. He has been provided professional medical support for us as well as helping with staff recruitment. He hasn’t asked for one penny so I feel obliged to tell people how wonderful he is and if you feel you need treatment please visit http://www.sportspt.co.uk/ He might even be able to meet you at the club moving forward
|DTFC - The Jackals - No Fear|
When I look in the eyes of the people running the club I see such decent transparent people, guys discussing ways to improve things for the lads well post 10pm. I even got a nice bit of homemade cake. When I walked back to the changing rooms I left a chairman sweeping it out in his suit. That is the ego free football environment I’ve always striven to work in, all hands on deck. As I walked back to my car with the stadium lights off and loaded with equipment I reflected on what I had just seen and thought to myself…
This is going to be a long hard season, with many ups and downs. But, one thing I know for sure, I want to do everything I can to give these great lads, fans and people running the club a glorious football day they will never forget.