Bray legend hoping to make big impact in his new role
SOCCER DANIEL GORMAN SPEAKS TO BRAY ASSISTANT MANAGER ANTHONY ‘BO’ MCKEEVER
ANTHONY ‘BO’ McKeever is back, and he is ready to crack the whip.
Eddie Gormley’s new assistant manager may only be in the job for two months but he already has big plans to make his mark on Bray’s current crop of players and the Bray Wanderers legend admits he struggles to overcome how much the game has changed since he hung up his boots eight years ago.
‘Bo’ revealed that the job offer had come unexpectedly, but once he got that phone call there was no hesitation on his part.
‘It was just out of the blue. Eddie (Gormley) rang me and just asked could I give him a dig-out for next year and I said yeah.
‘I’ve been supporting them for the last seven or eight years, I was a frustrated supporter I suppose, so I decided I might try and do something about it,’ said the 46year old, and it’s a feeling probably shared by football fans throughout the world but very few get the chance to do it.
It won’t be a case of being thrown in at the deep end for the former bruising defender though, as he has plenty of experience on the other side of the touchline.
‘That’s experience for me; I also spent a year with Pat (Devlin) as assistant manager. It was the year we finished fourth so it was successful enough I suppose. But the two years I did with Wicklow Rovers will stand to me as well.’
But McKeever really struggles to get over how much things have changed since his day.
‘It’s different. It’s not what I expected. The whole set up and all is different, it’s more professional. I mean, what the players get now compared to we got when we used to play, they’re mollycoddled.
‘Jaysus I think we used to, when I played anyway, I used to break the washing machine about twice a year with the dirt. These lads don’t even bring their gear home. It’s all done for them and it’s all laid out for them so it was certainly an eyeopener.
‘But the game has moved on since my time, it’s changed so much.’
Those players who have been enjoying the mollycoddling are about to face a rude awakening however, as the avid Leeds United fan is already looking to ring the changes.
‘I’m going to put my own stamp on it. I have already. Just a few things I’ve seen; I’ve only been involved in the last three matches, I’ve went to a few training sessions and the main thing for me is to instil a bit of discipline back into it. There’s stuff going on that you wouldn’t have gotten away with in my day.
‘I know it’s all moved on but I’ve introduced a code of conduct and it’s both on-field and off-field stuff; there’s about five pages of it. So they won’t know what’s hit them really with that. But I think it’s important, especially for the young lads coming through.’
The discipline won’t be the only aspect of the club ‘Bo’ will be looking to change though, as he also wants to get his teeth into the Seagull’s leaky defence.
‘Hopefully I can work on the defensive duties, 52 goals in a year isn’t good enough. If I was a defender I’d nearly pack it in being honest. But the game has moved on and it’s easier said than done because it’s all about ballretention nowadays. We did nothing like that before when we played and in the training sessions, we’d have never seen a ball in training but they’re never without a ball now.’
And while most Seagulls’ followers will admit to feeling lightly apprehensive about staying up next season, Eddie Gormley’s number two couldn’t be more confident if he tried.
‘Yeah. Without a doubt. With the current climate and the way the clubs are sure who knows who’s going to be even in the league. Pat’s, Cork and Bohs are all in trouble. They’ve all deadlines to beat on the 31st January and if they haven’t got the funds - Finn Harps are another side in trouble.’
The changes made at the Carlisle Grounds since he McKeever left haven’t been all bad though, and he admits to being extremely surprised by the youth set-up at the moment.
‘I’ve been very impressed since I’ve come back to the club with the setup of the U20s. Super kids. They’re a super little team and it’s a great set-up. I’d have high hopes for some of them players. They’ll have to (come through next year), although it looks like the lads that said that were going to leave this year are finding it difficult getting clubs so we might be in a better position than most.’
Depending how things go in the next year or two, Anthony ‘Bo’ McKeever’s Bray Wanderers career could well go on for a long time yet but looking back on it up until this point, there are plenty of highlights and lowlights to think about, even if he doesn’t always want to think about the latter. He does think that the current Bray squad will have the opportunity to play in some big games just like he did in his time though.
‘I don’t really like to dwell on the lowlights but I suppose there’s been a few relegations in there.
‘The highlights are probably the two UEFA Cup games; they were a great experience so they’d be up there. Everybody says the cup finals but for me, it was in 1990, the quarter-final against Shelbourne and then Derry in the semis.
‘I think there will be. Last year was a great opportunity for them in the cup and they blew it. But there’s a different type of player nowadays and you’d wonder if the ambition is there or not because if you look at Kevin Doherty - who is a lovely lad and was one of our top players last season - he’s gone to a First Division team so where’s his ambition?’
He may have won seven honours with Bray as a player, but he won’t be dusting down the trophy cabinet anytime soon because when asked would he add to his medals tally now he’s the assistant manager, ‘Bo’ pondered for a moment before chuckling: ‘Not on the budget we were given this year!’.
‘Bo’ McKeever in action for Bray Wanderers.