In this Q&A, Gillen Reid speaks to Craig Joyce. He's a former Glasgow City youth coach, current owner of 6, 8 or 10, and also works for the Scottish FA.
Can you give us some background on your experience in coaching Craig?
I began coaching at the youthful age of 16. As my first guest James Docherty highlighted on the 6, 8 or 10 podcast, there was always a coach hiding inside me as a youngster. I would always be one of the kids in the group/team who would organise and talk. If you know me personally I like to talk. I talk a lot, especially about football.
When I was a youngster at Hamilton Accies I completed my first coaching badge 'Early Touches' with Jim Chapman. We would all coach as part of our daily routine before we trained, It came as part of the package when we signed. At that point I didn't think I would ever go on to coach. My dad was a coach along with some of his friends, so at the time I was happy playing and saw that as my future.
During pre-season I also did some work with Rangers, helping coach at their Residential Camps. I would do this when I wasn't training as an enthusiastic volunteer, looking to gain experience of coaching with different people. You can always learn something from someone. I coached with Alan Boyd, Davie Stewart, Scott Allison, Craig Mulholland, and Brian Reid. I also got to coach with ex-Rangers players Alex Clelland and Steven Wright who were great with me.
Even though I began my coaching journey at the age of 16 I still wasn't that interested in doing it. I was always training or playing, enjoying my football. It was maybe five or six years later I would consider even taking my badges again and stepping into the world of coaching. I would explore college and have alot of time for the people who helped develop me in that environment; Alan Simpson started the process by visiting me at my house on a Friday night before a gig. I enrolled on the Monday and the rest was history.
Your former colleague Tommy, who has chatted before, he mentioned some magnificent success stories as part of the record breaking group of players you coached. Anything you would like to add?
If I'm honest my time at City opened up my eyes to Girls & Women's football. I had been involved in the female game before but this would be my first time in taking a team. My time there taught me a lot about patience, building relationships with parents, people at the club and most importantly the players. I'm a big believer in knowing your players. Get to know them as best you can and help develop them on a playing and personal level. Glasgow City would allow me to explore myself as a person and find my style of coaching.
I went to City under the impression that I would be working with Tommy, who I had discussed the club on many a Monday night at Regional Squads. Little did he know he was selling me on a move to the club at the time! A week later I would have my own squad of kids some who had just made the transition from four-a-sides to 7's. A challenge in itself, but that was the great thing about it, a clean slate with some kids and a coach who were all developing. We would be the development squad and had a pretty impressive first season together. The second season would show further development as well as picking up a trophy against a very strong and talented Celtic side. We were still a young side and showed we could compete at a performance level.
At the end of that season Tommy announced his retirement. His group joined my own team and the Glasgow City Blacks were created.
We started pre-season with one thing in mind, to gel. The squad had never played the same way or formation before, and I had never applied my style of coaching to the group, so it was important to become comfortable. To my relief, it never proved an issue and we had a great pre-season. Our goals for the season were set and we embarked on an incredible journey.
If you followed the team throughout the season you would see we racked up an incredible amount of goals. We conceded some, but that was always going to be the case in our terms of direct, attacking play. It would sometimes leave us short, susceptible to route one football. Complacency would be our strongest opponent and thankfully the group never let it set it. We went unbeaten in all competitions. League, League Cup, A Memorial Tournament, and the Scottish Cup. Hard work, dedication and some very talented young kids made it all possible.
Being a volunteer you can pick up a lot of roles. I don't mind them but it can take its toll and focus off the most important thing, the players.
At the beginning of the season I made my mind up that I would leave at the end of the season and in June I made the parents & players aware. That was hard as I've made some great friends through the club. Nothing changed. They didn't take the foot off the grass and continued as we meant to go on. As far as I was concerned I had done my job at City, developed the group I had worked with over three years, got players into Regional & National Squads, won six trophies, and played some beautiful football in the process of it all. Job done.
So with you taking the career break what keeps Craig Joyce busy these days?
I own my own brand - 6, 8 or 10, which consists of my own blog, podcast and, some pretty cool merchandise. It's all about life and the beautiful game. I’m a connoisseur of the game and have a very obsessive relationship with it, just in case you haven’t noticed. The response to the blog and podcast have been great and the guests we have had have been fantastic.
Anyone want a pin badge?
I'm on a sabbatical from coaching. I do think about it now and then but I haven't got itchy feet quite yet. As far as club football goes I won't be back involved until the end of this current season which of course hasn’t begun yet. I have spoken with some clubs and have agreed to join one at the end of the season, starting fresh for next season.
Who? I can't tell you that, but I look forward to it and hope to see some familiar faces when I'm back involved. It will be a new challenge for me.
For now my focus is fully on developing 6, 8 or 10.