James Gray-Hendon FC

What made you want to become a manager?

Becoming a manager was never really something I dreamt about to be honest, it was something that I just gradually got into, I had been skipper at pretty much every team I’d ever played for, so I guess managers did see some kind of leadership skills within me.I started helping my good friend graham golds manage his you harvesters team and really enjoyed coaching the youngsters. I then did my 2 licence, As we moved on up the the year groups. I was captain of St Albans City whilst joint manager of the youth team there. An opportunity came up and myself and Graham ended up first team interim managers, a little time later we appointed full managers and then the bug began..

How have you developed over your time as a manager?

I would say I am always developing really and am no where near the finished article.. I’ve gone from joint manager to solo manager now so you need to chose a good staff team around you who you can bounce off and also help you develop..I study certain managers and read books on how they have achieved success which I can then try to put into my own management style..Football is not what is was 8/15 years ago so I have to develop my style to cope with many different situations you find these days..

What are the greatest challenges for a manager these days? Social media?

Social media is a huge challenge for managers but it can also be very very useful..I have come unstuck on social media myself a few times as a player but as a manager it’s a fantastic tool for finding out information, from results, to players sitting on benches elsewhere that you may be able to attract to your club.. I think I’m moderation it is more a positive than a negative but I would want my players and staff to use it wisely and try not to bring negative things to the club.

What other leagues/countries football do you study to develop your coaching.

I’ve just finished reading a book by Damian Hughes, The Barcelona Way. A very interesting book, not just on Barcelona but, management styles in general. When you are a manger in the southern premier working with a limited budget you have to find any small advantage you can, I’m not saying we will be able to play like Barcelona and have the continued success they have on the pitch, but if I can get an extra 2% out of each player because of something I’ve learned by studying successful managers and teams then that is what I will try to do.

What has been your greatest moment as a manager?

My greatest moment as manager has to be promotion from the southern premier playoff final for St Albans V Chesham. A game played on thier back yard, in front of abt 3500 fans,  most of which St Albans fans..we went a goal down early on but came back strong and won the game, it was an amazing feeling, myself and Graham’s first full season of management and pretty much our hometown club as I have lived in the area since moving down from Yorkshire. I have had 2/3 other big moments along with some really tough ones but that day will stick with me forever .

What has been the lowest moment?

My lowest moment was resigning from the job at St Albans, we had had a tough start to our second season in the conference south..Things weren’t right on the pitch and behind the scenes, and all the feel good factor was diminishing because of it. Some fans were turning but they didn’t know the full facts of what was going on. In a game away at Lowestoft in the trophy I had one or two fans come behind the dugout when we were behind in the game and down to 10 men, and hurl some very insulting and un called for language. I lost my head at that moment and resigned two minutes after the game, I’m a proud man and only ever tried my best for the club but the bad times were now outwaying the good.

What do you think the biggest issues are affecting non-league football these days?

I would say finances are a big issue. There is a hell of a lot of commitment needed from players and staff. Don’t get me wrong there has always been the same issues but we find ourselves in a league that is really demanding travel wise.. our budget isn’t that great so attracting players to the club is very difficult. Add to that, players signing up with various agency’s and the agents banding them around to all sorts of different clubs trying to earn the player an extra tenner or 20 quid here and there it makes it all very difficult. When I was playing at the same level as managing now I used to see the money I earned as a bit of extra pocket money but now days, some players see it as more than that and try to squeeze as much as they can.. my advice would be play somewhere where you are wanted and you enjoy it, whatever level that is. The cream always rises to the top and if your young and develop properly the life changing money will come in due course.. players need to surround themselves with the right manger and people.

Who is the best player you have played with or coached?

This is a tough question as I’ve played with and coached lots of excellent players who I have the utmost respect for.. I have made so many good friends from the game but one player just sticks out slightly from the rest and that is Omar Beckles. Myself and goldsy used to call him a rolls Royce. He had it all, height, pace, strength, touch, but above all that he was a cracking down to earth lad, high praise for a lad I only managed for abt 6 months before he got a move up the food chain..The best player I played with is an easy one, my brother Andrew Gray, the most gifted footballer I’ve shared a pitch with. He had all the guile, skill, pace and grace, whilst I was left heavy footed, and robust. Haha. He got the nickname Giggsy when he first started out at Boston Utd,high praise indeed, he should have played 1000 league games easily but was a bit of a homely lad and a few things worked against him.. We played together a few times at Lincoln Utd as well as our younger days in the local leagues 

Do you think the FA should subside the cost of coaching badges?

I have only done my level 2 as my full time job is so demanding I have not found the time to do the B licence yet..Badges are good if you full time profession is in the game and are needed but there are a lot of good coaches out there without the badges. I do believe the cost is too high though yes and another reason I’m not actively Perusing  my next badge anytime soon..For all the money in the game especially premier league they should be a hell of a lot cheaper.. our grassroots level needs substantially more money ploughing into it..Players on £350k in the prem whilst young kids turn out on ploughed fields with a dad as coach, don’t add up to me .


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