A Lifetime in Football

A lifetime in football saw me start as a schoolboy at Liverpool FC before embarking on a professional career making 336 games as a goalkeeper. A 1st team debut as a 17year old at Tranmere Rovers and then a transfer for £3,000 to Wigan Athletic followed. Plenty of injuries along the way, 2 broken cheek bones, broken fingers, fractured wrist, spinal fusion and knee surgery.

Whilst playing for Wigan, I started a 4 year part-time degree in Physiotherapy at Salford University. This was completed with Honours during my time at Bangor City where I had become the player manager, winning back to back League of Wales titles and competing in the UEFA Cup.

So, with an Honours Degree in Physiotherapy and UEFA A License coaching qualification completed, I joined Scunthorpe United where for 557 games I was the Physiotherapist, spanning a 10 year period. I also undertook numerous additional roles whilst at the Lincolnshire Club. Goalkeeping and Fitness coach allowed me to utilise and broaden my knowledge and continue to amass experience. As a club we won 2 promotions during this spell.

When asked to take over as Manager at Scunthorpe United, I found the previous experience gained was without doubt beneficial. We won the League 1 title that season. Relegated the next season we regrouped and were promoted straight back up via the play offs. We also fitted in a Wembley appearance in the Johnstone Paints Trophy Final. Arguably the biggest achievement was staying in the Championship the following season. 

In 2010 Southampton came calling, the South Coast club lay 23rd in League 1. We managed back to back promotions to the Premier League. A rise of 51 places. Leaving the Saints sitting 15th in the Premier League I was very proud of what had been achieved.

Within a month I was with another Premier League Club, Reading. Although we galvanised a team struggling at the bottom of the league with 7 games remaining of the season, we ran out of time to avoid the drop. Many ownership and financial issues followed. We narrowly missed out on a return to the Premier league at the first time of asking. Youngsters again developed with 9 Academy players making debuts before new ownership made a change of Manager.

A short period to reflect, study other sports and travel before the opportunity to manage Sheffield United in League 1 was too big to turn down. Alas it only lasted a season. Priceless experience gained however, to add to my 574 games as a manager.

Utilising the time to buy a house, having rented for several years, was a promise I made to my wife. We celebrate our 31st wedding anniversary tomorrow. Spending time with family, supporting charity and doing the things you can't always do when you're a manager have been priceless. Combining this with constantly learning, watching games, players and moving with the times have kept me busy. Health and fitness screenings show I'm fit and in a good place. Having turned down several offers to return to management, the time is right for my next adventure, continuing  A Lifetime in Football.