Having played nearly 500 career games, scoring over 100 goals across a 20 year career, its fair to say Garry Thompson knows a thing or two about how best to enjoy a long and successful career as a footballer.
Now, as he embarks on a new chapter in his life as manager of Bradford (Park Avenue) we caught up with him ahead of his first ever competitive game. With kick off against Curzon Ashton only hours away, he acknowledges the last few weeks have been an enjoyable whirlwind:
“To say I am excited is an understatement! We’ve all been so busy preparing for the game that there has really been no time for me to get nervous or for the reality to sink in that this will be my first official game in charge.
“The lads laughed in our last training session on Thursday as I must have said how exciting the game was about 50 times but at the same time make no mistakes, we are fully prepared and ready for the occasion.”
Every since Garry and his assistant Shaun Gardner were announced as the new management duo at Horsfall, their feet haven’t touched the ground. So how pleased has he been with pre-season?
“I’m very delighted with how the last few months have gone and I’m very happy with the signings Shaun and myself have managed to recruit.
“We have focussed on attracting the right characters that mirror our own personalities. Hard work, determination and character are the attributes that Bradford Park Avenue fans can expect from our team this season.
Having played as a professional himself for so long, Garry admits the club’s focus on finding and developing talent is something that appealed to him upon joining the club
“If I can use my experience to help guide and develop players then that would give me a huge sense of achievement. Fans will have to accept that if it’s our model, we can’t stand in the way of players that we bring in and then hopefully sell them on to clubs in higher leagues.
“Pre-season has been a challenge that we have thoroughly enjoyed. From arriving at the club with only two contracted players to having to learn a whole new side of the industry such as dealing with agents and players has been interesting. But we have only had support and good advice from the owners and staff here.
“They have guided us and enabled us to gain experience in dealing with new aspects of the game so we’d like to thank them for that.
“It’s been my first pre-season as both a manager and player so not only have I had to organise the sessions for the players I’ve also had to join in with the running and still managed to beat most of the lads!
“But I’m only 100% positive in everything I do. Let’s hope everyone can get behind the cause and see how far we can go as group and as a football club.”
Having appeared in some of the recent friendlies as a player, the big question remains as to whether Garry himself will feature in today’s game or not but he is quite rightly keeping his cards close to his chest.
“When I took the job my first commitment was to make sure I only did what was right for the team. If this means playing a part on the field I will do so but it’s not about me or whether I play, it’s about winning football matches. We have built an exciting squad that’s full of energy and exuberance. If we play to our potential we’ll have a very competitive side. I didn’t think management would come so soon as it has in my career but I’m loving every minute of it.”
It’s also a big day for Garry’s number two, his long term friend and assistant manager Shaun Gardner, who will also play a key role as Garry explains,
“It’s very rare you can say that you work with your best friend but I can say this with all sincerity. We get on so well together.
“I fully value Shaun’s opinion as do the boys. He deserves full credit himself for the way he has trained and really embraced the role. I can’t think of a better player or person to have in the team. We’re all really looking forward to getting started and whatever happens it won’t be due to a lack of effort!”
If you want to wish Garry good luck on his first game in charge of Park Avenue, you can follow him on Twitter @g11klt or send a good luck message to him via firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @bpafcofficial
Photo Credits: Tom Pearson.