Talking Sport: Managers all played their part

THE SEARCH is on to find a new manager for Shetland’s senior county football team, following the sudden resignation of John Johnson last month.

Having made the decision to participate at next year’s island games in Åland it is important that the post is filled as soon as possible. The event is just eight months away and a great deal of preparation will be necessary for the new person in charge.

Being in charge of any football squad, at whatever level, is often a thankless task. I know that from experience.

The drudgery of winter training can be a drag, and there are the endless phone calls when matches are cancelled or replacement players have to be drafted in at the last minute. Another downside comes when mistakes are inevitably made and a queue of knockers begins to form, and people with little previous interest suddenly think they can do better.

But all of that can be outweighed by sharing in the excitement and satisfaction when a team you have personally selected does well.

There is no doubt that the current county team, with its backbone provided by seven-times champions Delting, possesses potential, and the three previous managers have all played their part in leaving whoever takes over with a fairly secure set-up.

First of all Derrick Bradley, who held the reins between 1991 and 2003, was chiefly responsible for taking the players to a new level of fitness. Prior to his involvement the prospect of playing five matches in six days – the usual island games schedule – would have been a daunting one.

Then came Niall Bristow, more of a meticulous planner and thinker, and everyone knows what happened at the Shetland games of 2005. Perhaps Bristow’s masterstroke was inviting javelin thrower Emma Gray into the dressing room prior to that epic final against Guernsey, where a glimpse of her gold medal may just have been the inspiration his team needed. Who will ever know?

For the couple of years Johnson has been at the helm there has been no significant drop in the level of performance. The team defeated Orkney twice and made the second round of the Highland Challenge Cup and it is a pity he did not stick around to give the island games at least one go.

The post of county manager has been advertised but by all accounts there are few applicants, with Delting manager John Jamieson being tipped as the most likely candidate. It is also rumoured that Jamieson may wish to carry on with his club position as well, a situation the association would be wise to rule out.

GLASGOW Rangers striker Nacho Novo has apparently expressed a desire to play for Scotland, which could be a reality if he applies for a British passport.

Notwithstanding the fact that Novo is barely good enough to get a regular game for his club side, surely this is something the Scottish Football Association should knock on the head right now.

It is bad enough that somebody with a Scottish grandparent is able to qualify for the national team, but for a player with no connection with the country save playing for one of its teams to become available is nonsense.

Mind you, if Henrik Larsson or Brian Laudrup had offered their services a decade or so ago, the idea may not have sounded so bad.

NEWS emerged this week that Diego Maradona has been named as the new manager of Argentina, and his first match in charge will be the friendly against Scotland at Hampden Park next month.

I await with interest Maradona’s meeting with Scottish assistant manager Terry Butcher, his opponent in the “Hand of God” World Cup quarter-final of 1986.

Might this be the time when Butcher, who also failed to stop Maradona scoring what was described as “the goal of century” in the famous match, finally exacts a modicum of revenge?

THE SUGGESTION that tennis player Andy Murray might become the new Tim Henman, i.e. promising a lot but delivering very little, has surely been laid to bed in recent weeks, with Murray already achieving more at the age of 21 than Tiger Tim managed in his whole career.

The fact that Murray is Scottish is perhaps no bad thing in his quest for greatness, when you consider the over-abundance of hype which the likes of racing driver Lewis Hamilton has to cope with.

FINALLY, the search is on once more to find Shetland’s best sports people, teams and coach of the past 12 months.

We have already received many nominations for the various cate­gories but there is still time left to select your own personal favourites.

People can of course nominate their friends and family, but we would remind everyone not to overdo things on that front.

Meanwhile the person who nominated Robinson Transport for the coach of the year award obviously has a sense of humour but will sadly be ruled out.

A coupon can be found over­leaf.


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