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Wednesday, 09 January 2013 10:44

My Blog Update

My Blog Update

It’s been nearly four months since I updated my own blog as I’ve been concentrating on a series of interview blogs with other goalkeeping coaches or goalkeepers so I thought it was about time I had a “waffle” on.


Make yourself a cup of tea, find a comfy seat......and i’ll begin!


The interviews I have carried out I have certainly enjoyed and hopefully anyone reading them will have been able to take something from them. I still intend to try and get some more done and am still waiting responses back on a few so watch this space for more hopefully.



One of my interviewees, former Swindon Town goalkeeper Dave Lucas has since doing the interview actually moved on to more of a coaching than playing role. Dave was purely a contracted playing goalkeeper at Championship club Birmingham City at the time but recently he has left Birmingham to go to League two high flyers Fleetwood Town as “player goalkeeping coach”. Dave will concentrate on coaching the clubs two senior goalkeepers while still providing playing back up as and when required. While Dave was at Swindon I got to know him and he kindly came to my two day summer course in 2010 to hand out trophies, sign autographs, pose for pictures and answer questions, as you can see on my gallery page. While at Swindon Dave had also started to look at doing his coaching badges and he came up to the Academy and got involved in a session alongside me and you could tell straight away he had a great personality with the kids and they took to him well. Also during his time at the club Dave was excellent with the young scholar and young pro goalkeepers such as the likes of Jamie Stephens, Calm Antell, Mark Scott, Leigh Bedwell and Conor Thompson. He made them feel welcome and often offered advice and support to them about aspects of their game. Both with Dave’s personality and his vast experience I’m sure he will go on to be an excellent goalkeeping coach over the years ahead and work his way up in the game.



At the start of this season when I had to move the night that my goalkeeping school operates due to my increased commitments at Swindon Town I must admit I was worried that things would take a dip and I might have to close it. Monday worked out to be a good night as not many teams train on a Monday so I had access to a wide range of goalkeepers. Having to change to a Wednesday I knew would cause some problems as a lot of grass roots teams do train on a Wednesday evening and straight away I was sad to lose some of my regular goalkeepers generally for this reason alone. Although I have lost some regulars I have been pleased to have picked up some new goalkeepers over the course of the season and I am still topping over 30 goalkeepers across my two age groups as we start back after the Christmas break.


There is no question that specific goalkeeping coaching is needed in the modern game and many grass roots clubs simply haven’t got the people involved in their club with the necessary qualifications and/or experience to be able to seriously help their clubs young goalkeepers. A goalkeeper, like an outfield player who week in week out practises in a team environment on his/her passing, receiving, heading, shooting, tackling skills etc needs regular work on all his/her goalkeeping techniques for them to develop.


As much as I love my role at Swindon Town and working with the more advanced goalkeepers I still get a buzz out of working with grass roots goalkeepers and seeing them develop and improve whether they are 6 or 15 years of age. It’s great when I see a member of my goalkeeping school mentioned in the grass roots supplement in the Evening Advertiser having performed well in a game at the weekend. Mind you this week I had a shock having picked up the paper as it was both my coaches James Whitlock (Chippy) and Dan Callaghan who got a mention! Chippy, or the “veteran” as it called him saved a penalty for his adult Saturday side he still turns out for and more surprisingly Dan Callaghan who was having a go out on the pitch for his local side bagged himself a goal!



At Swindon I’m halfway through my year’s contract and time has really flown by! Our Academy recently took some stick in one or two media outlets which I thought was extremely harsh if I’m honest. The staff carry out excellent jobs with the resources available to us compared to other clubs and we are constantly striving to improve both the way we do things and obviously the young players we work with.  As a category three academy setup our regular games programme entails playing the likes of Bristol Rovers, Cheltenham Town, Oxford Utd, Exeter City, Plymouth Argyle, Hereford Utd etc. However and with no disrespect meant to those clubs to improve in anything you do in life not just playing football, you need to be challenged. Our Academy Manager Jeremy Newton has worked tirelessly and built up some great contacts enabling both our younger age groups and our full time scholars the chance to play against top premiership sides. Our scholars have already this season played Liverpool, Everton, Fulham, Aston Villa and Reading and had a game with Man Utd called off due to weather. The differences between our academy setup and what we spend and these academies are huge but to play against them provides big challenges for our players which is far more important than the actual result itself in any of these games. From a goalkeeping perspective our goalkeepers, in particular our scholar goalkeeper has to deal with players that have a greater array of talents who can do more with the ball. The pace, power and accuracy of the finishing that he has faced so far in these games has been greater than that of a normal games programme game so this has meant he has had to improve to deal with it. If you take the Liverpool game alone when we played them in the FA Youth cup, they had players in their team on the pitch from all over Europe that they had paid transfer fees alone to the value of 5 times more than we spend on our entire academy in one season! Getting beat 5-0 of course wasn’t nice but what a great lesson for our lads and goalkeeper in particular. He will have learnt more from that game than from when we beat non league sides Sholing and Cirencester Town comfortably in the previous rounds.



On the subject of learning a recent incident for a former member of my goalkeeping school really highlighted to me how the modern game has changed and how goalkeepers have had to adapt because of this. Jack Goodenough who was one of my pupils in the early days of setting up my goalkeeping school is now 18 years of age and playing for local side Shrivenham in the Hellenic Premier division of senior football. They are currently having a tough season and are bottom, but fighting to avoid relegation. They took on Binfield who are third and fighting for the title so the game was always going to be a tough ask for Shrivenham. Despite this they were doing well at 0-0 until just after half time when the Binfield striker broke through on goal from the angle of the penalty area. Jack came flying out and went down at his feet and from the clip I saw barely touched him. However over the striker went, arms flying everywhere and the referee awarded a penalty and sent Jack off and Shrivenham then went on to lose 5-0.


If you look at some of the top goalkeepers of recent times, particularly Peter Schmeichel and now such as Joe Hart and Iker Casillas you will notice they have modified how they deal with one v one situations. No longer do they come flying out at a player’s feet, they come out and stay big for longer and almost spread like a “starfish” in an attempt to block the ball rather than try and claim it. Going back to Jack’s situation in the game for Shrivenham, I am not saying he should just give up and let the striker score easily but in hindsight he may have approached his course of action differently. Unless he was easily going to get to the ball first by spreading, I feel he would have been better suited to have advanced, making himself big and just tried to get between the goal and the striker and try and get a block on the ball. Players go down easily these days looking for penalties, free kicks and to get opponents sent off and referees although they have a hard task are quick to book or send off goalkeepers in particular in these situations. If perhaps Jack had tried this approach, he may have made a blocking save but worst case scenario otherwise would have been his side 1-0 down but with both 11 players on the pitch and importantly still a recognised goalkeeper between the posts. Shrivenham would have had a far better chance getting back into the game then, than with only 10 men and an outfield player in goal. Jack is a young goalkeeper still learning the game so hopefully Jack will have learnt from this situation, but it does highlight to me how goalkeepers have to change how they deal with one v ones these days.



Having mentioned Dave Lucas earlier, I just want to also give a quick mention to another former Swindon Town goalkeeper, Phil Smith who has just signed another month long deal at Portsmouth. Phil, who like Dave has also attended one of my two day summer courses (2011) to hand out trophies, sign autographs, pose for pictures and answer questions was released from Swindon at the end of last season despite being a good and loyal servant to the club. Now many people will have this thought that all footballers are rich and famous and made for life and that maybe the case at the higher end of the game. It isn’t the case lower down however and Phil has a young family to support and has looked at other types of jobs away from football to support his family and is still doing so. However the chance to train then sign at Portsmouth even though short term at the moment due to their financial troubles was a way back into the game for Phil. I am pleased that having completed one month with the South Coast side they have extended his deal for another month and I hope things can keep progressing for Phil as he was a model professional during his time with Swindon.



Hopefully you have reached this final paragraph still awake! As I said previously I am still hoping to get a couple more guest blog interviews done so keep your eyes peeled for those.


Until the next time..................................

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