As a primary school teacher, former professional cricketer and County League level footballer, life was pretty good. Steady income and reliability were welcome, kept the wife happy and paid the bills. Always though, despite the fact cricket had consumed large portions of my life, I had longed to be a football manager.
Coaching age-group level teams and primary school teams, often having Schoolboy Form Carlisle United players in my ranks had kept me on my toes. It also gave me an avenue to progress through coaching qualifications without having to outlay huge amounts financially. I was also given the opportunity to work with Workington AFC (BSN) and Carlisle United (L1) teams in my spare time over a period of time. It was during these times I knew it was 'now or never' for my dreams and aspirations. After all, Andre Villas Boas is my age, he can do it, why can't I?
Thankfully, teaching gave me an ideal platform to launch from. The ability to add a semi-pro and professional club, as well as a Management Degree, management experience from education and also youth coaching to my CV ensured that it wouldn't get discarded right away. Once it was completed, I religiously checked job availabilities, often with futile results, until I came across several options that I deemed suitable for me to apply for. I had nothing to lose. I was being paid a decent salary at the same time so it seemed like a good time to be pursuing a dream. It was unlikely to come true anyhow; or so I thought...
Looks good so far, keep it up!
Nice start mate, I'll be following!
Absolutely amazing start to your story, keep it coming!
Thanks guys, I will look to update further this afternoon. Comments thus far have been greatly appreciated. I have enjoyed reading many of your stories so its nice to repay the favour I guess!!
Each day became the same, log on to the internet, check the vacancies website, read the papers, see who was close to losing their jobs. It became a vicious circle and, along with training, keeping myself fit and looking after the family, became my norm.
I looked in particular at lower league / non-league managerial positions domestically to begin with. With only a scant reputation backed up by an inexperienced CV, I was unlikely to see anything other than the recycle bin applying for other, higher ranked jobs.
When I think about it, I think it was late one evening that the idea came to me and I related back to my days as a young professional cricketer trying to develop myself and my game. At the age of 18, I was given the opportunity to become the Overseas Player at a club in Melbourne, Australia. This gave me invaluable life and sporting experience that I still draw upon today, sixteen years on. One thing that irritates me continually, and I guess its driven by financial reward at the end of the day, is that it is very rare for a British footballer to play abroad or indeed a British Manager to manage abroad. Save for successes in the 80's and 90's such as: Graeme Souness, Ray Wilkins, David Platt etc playing in Italy and Sir Bobby Robson enhancing his reputation in The Netherlands, Portugal and Spain, there has only been Steve McClaren who has 'spread his wings' with any success. I wondered, given the standing of the English game in eyes of the rest of the world, whether I could explore this avenue and enjoy the same experience as I had in cricket in the world of football?
With this in mind, I took the plunge and spoke to the wife about it... In the midst of terrible weather here in Cumbria, she said to 'go for it'. The constant searching for jobs and ploughing through newspapers for gossip were becoming tiresome and time consuming, so I decided to spend some of my monthly salary on employing an agent to deal with sifting through the vacancies, deciding which jobs I might potentially have a chance of getting, and mailing off my CV to the clubs to see whether or not they'd be interested in employing me. There wasn't any other way round it as I was dealing with leagues all over the world and didn't have the contacts to keep me 'right up to speed' on developments everywhere! I set a twelve month deadline on my dream. At £400p/m an agents fee wasn't cheap so I couldn't do it indefinitely, I just had to hope, that within that timescale, he'd find me a job.
It was only a couple of weeks later that my mobile rang and the name name 'Simon Westing' appeared on screen. My heart skipped a beat. Outwith our weekly pre-arranged phone call I'd make to him for an update, the only time he said he'd ring is if he'd had any success. I fumbled at the 'answer' button and nervously pressed the phone to my ear and said, "hello."
Simon brought me up to speed very quickly and my initial excitement transcended into a bittersweet mood... There was an actual management job on the table from the Swedish League, the fourth tier of the Swedish League, but none-the-less, it was an offer! The Chairman of Rotebro IS FF had contacted Simon, really impressed with the youth development aspect of my CV and had an offer to make me their Manager! It was at this point things took a slight downward turn... Despite the fact that Rotebro wanted me signed to a full-time contract lasting a season, there was a pretty much non-negotiable £350p/w wage on the table. My heart sank. There was no way I could basically half my pay to follow my dream. I didn't even have to make the phone call to my wife to talk it over. I told Simon to thank their Chairman for his kind offer but also to explain my situation and call me back with what their Chairman said. He did this and their Chairman was apparently grateful for my honesty.
It was a breakthrough! Although it wasn't ever tempting to accept or even remotely possible, I'd had an offer! It was a start and I felt much more positive about my £400p/m outlay on Simon. I was hoping deep down I wouldn't have to wait much longer for something to come along. I didn't. When it did though, it took a lot more thinking about than the paltry Rotebro offer...
When the phone rang again I didn't feel as shocked as the last time. I had spoken to Simon just the night before so maybe, I thought, he was just following up on some of the things we had discussed.
"I've had an interesting proposal for you," he said. "Go on," I added intrigued. "What do you know about Egypt?" He enquired, in a matter of fact way. "Aside from the Pyramids, Sphinx and the Key Stage 2 Ancient Egyptians History Topic, not a great deal," I replied, confused. "Well," he said, "I have had a couple of enquiries about your availability from the Egyptian Second Division. Do you know anything at all about Egyptian football?" He added. "Aside from Zamalek, Al-Ahly, Mido, Hossam Ghaly and Amr Zhaki, I'd say my knowledge is pretty limited. Oh but the wife and I did once have a two-week holiday in Sharm-el-Sheikh!" I replied, trying to add some humour to the conversation. "I'll be honest, there's been four requests for a Skype interview with you but, on hearing outlines of terms, I've turned three down. One from El Margha, one from Shadab and another offer from Madina Monowara. Their terms varied between £400p/w and £600p/w which is less than we discussed last night." Simon continued, clearly unimpressed by my attempts at humour. "There is one though I thought you'd like to have a look at if you are interested?" He said. "It can't hurt I guess, do you want to email the documents to me?" I asked. "No problem, just one thing. Have you ever heard of a place called Aswan?" He enquired. "As in the massive dam? Yeah, I've heard of it, why?" I probed. "Well, lets just say it might be wise to get on Wikipedia and do some research." He said.
At that, my Iphone 'pinged' as it did whenever new Email arrived. I didn't want to read this on the small screen so I fired up the MacBook and sat down with a cup of tea to see exactly what this intriguing offer could be...
Some more great updates here
Am really enjoying this!
Strong and good story telling, keep it up! Rookie and Blue have to make their stories better if you keep this going
but why Iphone and MacBook
2013-02-07 05:25#80201 DerAlte :
Strong and good story telling, keep it up! Rookie and Blue have to make their stories better if you keep this going
but why Iphone and MacBook
Haha! I genuinely own both, they are my poison of choice although I can change MacBook to laptop if you prefer?!
I opened the email sent from Simon. There was a short message from him but it was the attachment I was most interested in. Anxiously, I clicked on and it downloaded and opened up on the screen.
The document contained two pages. The first page was headed by a football club badge. Two spires topped a ball and there was some Arabic writing and the club name, emblazoned in capital letters underneath read 'ASWAN SC'. I scrolled down the page, eager to read some background information on the club. Basically, Aswan SC were an Egyptian League 2 club; one level from the top tier of Egyptian football. They had spent time in the Premier League but had been predominantly a second tier team for the majority of their existence. There were a couple of pictures of Aswan Stadium, a typical athletics stadium / football stadium combo, commonplace in Africa and Middle-East, bathed in sunshine. With a capacity of 20,000 it was certainly sizeable enough and looked in decent order.
Page two, that was where the real detail was though. The Job Specification. After the usual stuff, full-time Manager, blah, blah, blah, was the part that really interested me. It read: "we are looking for a European Manager to incorporate young players into our club, enabling us to bring talent in cheaply and use it for the benefit of our club. The tendency with Egyptian Managers is to opt for experience and we want to try a different approach." That sounds exactly what I was looking for and something I'd had experience in before. There was no contract detail in there, I guess that would be discussed with anyone who decided they wanted to be interviewed for the job. I decided there and then I'd take the plunge, what did I have to lose? I picked up the phone and pressed on Simon's contact. There was no reply so I left a simple voicemail. "Hi Simon, thanks for the email. Let's go for it. Set up that Skype interview with Aswan. I've read their stuff and I'm interested. Please let me know when they want to do it and I'll be ready. I'll even wear a shirt and tie for them! Cheers."
I ended the call and texted the wife right away with what was going on, she texted back saying about it being good news but what was the place like? Another message came through about five minutes later. It was Simon. The message said: They will call you tonight at 6pm UK time on Skype. The Chairman of the Board will lead the interview. Good luck! Give me a ring afterwards. I put the phone down. Four hours to prepare...
Great start, and I've never seen anyone play as an Egyptian club, so it'll be a good read hopefully.
I fired up the laptop. I had, as I told Simon I would, donned a suit, shirt and tie for the purpose of my Skype interview with the Egyptians. I had found a quiet half hour and sat down. I logged into Skype and waited. It wasn't long before the call dialled in and I found myself sat face-to-face with my prospective employer.
He was also smartly dressed and, from what I could gather judging by the plush surroundings, carrying out the interview from his home. I was fairly taken aback; I was expecting a translator but when Mohamed spoke, his English was immaculate. It transpired that he had studied Business and Management in London some years earlier so, to my relief, spoke excellent English.
After some initial 'small talk' we moved on to the business in hand. Mohamed reiterated that he wanted a manager to try and create some sustainability and get away from the signing expensive experienced players instead of building for the future. He said that my CV had stood out particularly because of the vast experience I had working with up and coming footballers. He was also keen to discuss my teaching career as the job would also entail working with Aswan based schools to incorporate coaching and club link relationships. I sold myself as best I could but was taken aback by what Mohamed said next...
What had really sealed the deal for my interview was my involvement with Carlisle United! Mohamed's father had been an avid follower of English football and had a real affinity with CUFC as, during their solo year in the old First Division (now EPL) in the early 70s, he fell in love with the team! We talked about Carlisle legends and I felt myself relax and actually start liking this guy and his passion.
We seemed to chat for ages after the formalities were out of the way as friends and avid football fans would but eventually Mohamed got back to business.
"Gary, I like you. You have impressed me with your knowledge and plans for Aswan SC and I have to say, your experience in teaching as well as coaching is important for me. I won't lie, I have interviewed a German and Lithuanian applicant for the job. They have lower league management experience in their countries but, I'll be honest, they are asking for double what I am looking to pay for a manager." Mohamed said. My heart sank a little; they haven't got much money. "I want to take a chance on you. Your passion and desire for the job, plus the fact you are willing to move your family to our country is a big plus. So, I am offering you the job here and now. I do need an answer within 24hrs though. The season begins in thirteen days and we need some stability at the club before the big kick off. Would you consider my offer?" My heart was thumping. I had been offered a manager's job! Fantastic! I was delighted! Calm down, I thought to myself, don't give anything away...
"Mohamed, I have enjoyed our conversation a lot. I feel as though I would like to consider your offer. Please could you email the official contract offer through to me so I can fully evaluate it and come to a decision." I replied, as calmly as I could without exploding. "Not a problem Gary, I will do it within the hour for you. I really hope you can agree to the terms and we can thrash out an acceptance from you!" He added. "So do I Mohamed, I look forward to receiving your email and I shall reply as soon as I have come to a decision." I added. "Thank you very much for your time and kind offer, I shall be in touch within the day." I concluded. "And you, thank you very much. I will send now."
That was that. I closed down Skype and sat waiting for an email to come through from Mohamed al Mohammed, the Chairman of Aswan SC with my first ever management offer...
Great start Gaz. Enjoying the story and how you'll manage it. Perhaps the Club World Championship in some seasons in?
You are reading "Signing on...".