A new feature that we have brought to the BAJFC website is ‘An Interview With…’, a light hearted small insight to who the BAJFC players, management, and committee are. Our next interview is with goalkeeping coach Mark Murray. Read below what Mark had to say when he sat down with our website admin team over a coffee or two…
It’s been 18 years since you made your senior debut with Montrose FC back in the day, do you remember the game and score?
I remember it pretty well on account of me saving a penalty! Montrose goalkeeping legend Davie Larter injured himself in a Scottish Cup tie a few weeks before (which turned out to be the last of his 432 games for the club) and so I made the step up from Jeanfield Swifts to play. It was against East Stirlingshire at the old Firs Park and we went on to win 2-1 that day.
Did you have any game day rituals or superstitions before a match?
It’s been over 10 years since I last played but I liked routine on the morning of a match, both away from the ground and then when I arrived – from getting there a bit early to have a walk on the park and see what conditions were like, to following the same pre-match warm up.
Who was your toughest opponent be it in the Junior or Senior game and why?
This is probably easiest to answer from a junior football perspective as I played more games at this level. As a player you thrive on playing the top teams, so during my time, goal scorers such as Kenny MacDonald, Dave Reilly, Darren Bonnella, Mark Kelly and Kenny Cameron Jr all spring to mind. At a senior level, I have to mention Paul Wright at St Johnstone, as an opponent in training I remember his movement and finishing being the best I’ve ever faced – and Colin McGlashan at Montrose was also equally impressive.
What made you choose the position of goalkeeper and not a striker?
I don’t remember that being a goalkeeper was something that I set out to do but instead fell into. I tended to enjoy going in goals in the playground and jumping about, and one of the guys in school’s dad used to be the manager of the U12s at the Vale of Earn in Crieff. He asked me along to training one night and then it went from there.
What team do you support and any player that you idolized since you first knew about football?
As a kid growing up I supported Dundee United fuelled by their Premier League win in 1983 and UEFA Cup run of 1987, the televised matches against Barcelona and Gothenburg still stick in my mind. Now I don’t really support a team but tend to look out for the results of the teams I’ve been with. I wouldn’t say I idolized anyone, but those at the top of the, and their, game always make an impression, so obviously the likes of Peter Schmeichel, Edwin Van Der Sar and now Manuel Neuer for their all-round ability… but I’ve also been really fortunate to have had the input of the likes of Stewart Kennedy, Lindsay Hamilton, Andy Rhodes and Alan Main to my own playing career.
What’s the most amount of goals you’ve conceded in one match?
Throughout my career, I tended to be in teams where I was kept busy so I’ve conceded a few goals in my time! I’m sure there was a double figure result in there at least once as a kid, but the one that really sticks with me was in the juniors, playing for Jeanfield Swifts when we lost 7-6 at home to Forfar West End. As well as being a horrendous result, I’m pretty sure that this was the only game in my career that I got booked, for falling out with the referee after he’d giving a penalty for someone taking a blatant dive over me.
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned on your footballing journey?
There are probably four key ones. As a player, the importance of watching, talking, listening to and learning from your peers. Specifically as a goalkeeper, not being frightened to make a mistake, it happens – important to not let it affect you and that you learn from it. As I mentioned, I think preparation is vital – through application in training and in the run-up to a match. And then in a coaching sense, the need to be specific in training – this is really important when it comes to goalkeepers – identifying what needs to be worked on and providing the correct platform to then allow it to be worked on.
What would you have done if you never played football?
In a sporting sense, I think it would have been to play golf. I played a lot as a kid, we used to play for a fiver and found ourselves going down the last in the dusk and being chased off the course (as juniors weren’t allowed on the course after a certain time). I was just getting to the point of playing County golf when football took priority.
Broughty Athletic are your third Junior Football team, how has it been the past couple of years?
I’ve been fortunate that during my time with Broughty, the club has been supportive of my keenness to continue to work with a number of goalkeepers from clubs across junior football in this area – many of whom don’t get dedicated goalkeeper coaching themselves. I think this has proved to be beneficial all round and certainly makes my coaching role and the learning environment for the goalkeepers more enjoyable.
The club has made huge strides over the last couple of years to get where it is but I think it’s now more about where it’s going to be for the next couple of years. I always remember being told that it takes 3 years to build a team and Broughty under the gaffer are probably about a year into this process. It’s now about making that transition to being a super league team – stabilising and then pushing on. The squad assembled over the last couple of years have the quality, it’s just about turning that into results on the park.
Looking ahead, it’s exciting times with developments planned off the field and a number of young developing players in the fold – including goalkeeper John Sinclair who has all the attributes to develop into an excellent goalkeeper, I’ve been delighted with his progress since the start of the season and he continues to push Iain Ross at training each week.
Broughty training sessions or Broughty losing a game, what is the worst?
I’d like to think our goalkeeping sessions are pretty good fun, whilst being focused on delivering results, so it wouldn’t be the training sessions. Football’s a result driven business, particularly when supporting the gaffer as part of the management structure of the club, so losing is therefore obviously worse. But as a coach and while it is results driven, I think performance has a lot to do with it. Even in defeat if the team performs well, taking on things that have maybe been worked on in training earlier in the week, then a defeat isn’t the be all and end all. If the performances then become consistently good over a number of games then you’re going to end up winning more than you’re losing.
Finally, tell us a bit more about Mark Murray outside of football?
At home, I have a lovely wife Elaine and two cracking kids, Calum 7 and Emily 4. I work for VisitScotland, Scotland’s national tourist organisation, mainly delivering our presence at events. Particular highlight recently was being part of the core team that delivered The 2014 Ryder Cup.