Perthshire Advertiser

I’m over the Moon at chance to inspire players of the future

From Perth to the States via Australia, midfielder gets a buzz from coaching


It is a footballin­g journey which has taken him from McDiarmid Park to Michigan via Western Australia.

This was perhaps not the route Kevin Moon had envisaged in the game when he was a young lad attending Atholl Henderson’s Saturday morning community coaching.

But the highs and lows of a memorable playing career led the Perth-born midfielder on a special and unique path, one that has helped spark a new passion in the world of football.

Moon, who proudly worked his way through St Johnstone’s youth academy before amassing almost 100 first-team appearance­s for his local favourites, is determined to give back.

Coaching is now top of the priority list and, having retired last year, the 33-yearold has big plans to help inspire the next generation.

His first real introducti­on to coaching did not arrive in the Fair City, but in Perth, Australia while playing for ECU Joondalup in the Western Australia Premier League from 2016-2018.

It proved rewarding and, following a brief return to Scotland, Moon has taken his experience overseas once more to coach kids at Southeast Michigan Storm Soccer in America.

Having been involved in battling through a youth set-up and making the breakthrou­gh, the former Perth Grammar student is certainly well-placed to pass on valuable knowledge.

“The type of person I am, when I have my mind set on something I channel all my energy into it,” said Moon, who also played for Alloa Athletic, Raith Rovers and Stirling Albion.

“But when I went to Australia I got the buzz for coaching and from there I have really become obsessed with it. I can’t see myself not doing it.

“Australia was great. Two of the best years of my life. It was part-time, which probably suited my body better.

“The pressure wasn’t the same and I felt like I had a bit of a free reign. We did well as a team, too, which helped.

“I was taking a couple of teams over there and that is when I started thinking it’s what I want to be doing for the rest of my life.

“I returned from Australia and ended up signing for Stirling Albion until the end of the season, then for another year. But my body was just failing.

“All these years of trying to constantly keep in shape had taken its toll.

“I was waking up on a Saturday morning and thinking: ‘What is my body going to be like?’

“I ended up retiring last year and needed something different.”

That something different sparked his next adventure Stateside and for the past year Moon has loved the experience of coaching in Michigan.

“There are not too many opportunit­ies in Scotland,” said Moon. “I had done my B-Licence and Michigan is a great environmen­t for me to learn.

“I’m a young coach and want to learn. I really like coaching kids and, at this point in my career, I have no interest to coach senior football. But that can change.

“From what I had coming through at St Johnstone, I feel I have a lot of valuable experience that not many have had.

“Coming through the youth system, I have seen every scenario of player. I know where players have gone wrong and I know how to get the best out of kids.”

Moon’s own story as a kid started with kicking a ball around the streets of Luncarty and starring as a youngster for Bankfoot FC.

When playing on the astroturf outside McDiarmid Park, he would often picture himself running out in front of thousands of spectators at the adjacent Perth stadium.

He was head-hunted by the youth academy at the age of 10 and continued to develop under the stewardshi­p of both Alistair Stevenson and Tommy Campbell.

“Everyone wants to be a profession­al football player and you just need to get the head down,” Moon reminisced.

“You have a dream and work your hardest to make it come true. I really enjoyed my time in the St Johnstone youth academy.

“The pathway through to the first team, at the time, seemed a long way off. But it was all I wanted to do and nothing was going to stop me.

“You are always aware of the difficulty of it. When I was growing up there weren’t too many making the first team.

“I used to go and watch St Johnstone as a kid and I had the vision of it being me one day. That’s what kept you driving through the hard times.”

The moment Moon had been waiting for arrived on September 13, 2005. He entered the action as a second half substitute in a 5-1 Challenge Cup win against Raith Rovers.

“I know it’s cliché but it was a dream come true to make my debut,” he said.

“People who don’t follow St Johnstone might think it’s a bit sad, but it’s all I wanted.

“I remember coming on for my first game. It was at home and I started to feel like all of the years of hard work were paying off.

“But I was convinced it was not going to be the end. I needed to work even harder and didn’t want to just play a couple of games.”

He did not just play a couple of games and instead racked up a near century of appearance­s, including a First Division title, playing in the top-flight and in the Europa League.

Moon, who was a real fans’ favourite, made an emotional exit in 2013 following a 15-year associatio­n with the club.

He told the PA: “I have so many fond memories growing up with St Johnstone and it was a great environmen­t for me to learn.

“Winning the First Division was just the best. I was only 21 or 22 at the time and played in the game we secured the title against Morton.

“That was what dreams are made of. I have other great memories, but that is the one that really sticks out the most.

“It’s no secret that I did have my injury problems. I was having to work hard every day and at times it was a struggle to get my body in a decent shape to play.

“The club was great with me, looking after me through my injuries. It was hard at the time when I left because it was on a sour note.

“I’m not going to lie, it took a while to get over. It was the hardest day of my life.

“Previously I did have offers to maybe progress my career but I loved the club and I couldn’t turn my back. In the end, maybe I did stay too long.”

Moon is currently back in the Fair City due to the coronaviru­s situation but can’t wait to continue his coaching in Michigan.

“I’ll give it everything I’ve got,” he said. “I’m back for a little bit - so maybe I can help out a local team for the time being.”

I used to go watch St Johnstone as a kid and I had the vision of it being me one day

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 ??  ?? Mentor Saints boss Callum Davidson helped Moon
Mentor Saints boss Callum Davidson helped Moon

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