Over 35s

Gents, there’s been a few questions popping up regarding how we set up and go about things, so I’ll post a run down of some philosophies and policies of the team including a quick background on why things are run the way they are.
Most importantly of all, we have weekly dinners after every Thursday training session at Scovell – even if you can’t make the session itself, please come down for a feed and to support the club’s fund-raisers every Thursday if you are able to.
Firstly, with only four players from the original 2013 squad in this group, a bit of history on how the team began: Brenton Coles (Leros/Maidstone player for 20+ years, multiple best and fairest winner, original coach of the Over 35s, life member of the club, all round great bloke) was the instigator in starting up the Over 35s.
The idea was to create a home at the club for the older boys, who could still compete at a reasonably strong level and remain part of the club for years to come, with the team also having added benefits in terms of maintaining social networks, fitness and health of our ex-players. All “outsiders” from the club were welcome, as long as they met a “no dickhead” policy.
In terms of Over 35s coaching, it has always been – by design- absolutely as minimalist as possible. Having a coach barking instructions, game plans and criticisms at you from 9:15am to 11:45am on a Sunday morning is not what you boys come here for, and its not what you’re going to get.
In order for the Over 35s concept to not only survive but thrive, I personally want this to be the favourite two hours of your week. It should be the two hours of not having your boss, workmates or missus being on your back, the two hours where you can chase a ball without a worry in the world, compete and achieve something with a bunch of great team mates.
In reality, this is not a team that should need to be coached anyway. With so many players over 30, most players have been playing this game for 25+ years, most of you don’t need instruction on how to play or how to navigate a situation on the field.
Last year, we won our last 6 league games straight (including against the title winners and runners up) and followed up with 3 more wins to reach the cup final. All of that was achieved with me barely saying a word pre/post or half time, and every win playing a basic 4-4-2, against some very strong opponents – as long as a team is filled with players who know what they’re doing with some on field leaders providing guidance, the group does not need to be “coached”, per se.
Someone does have to manage the squad and have the final say with the line ups and formations, but other than that, like so many Sunday league teams, the team is largely self managed and self driven. If we have a squad of happy, contented players rock up every Sunday morning ready to give their all for their team mates, team and club, 80% of my job is done.
Training with the Over 35s has always been encouraged but optional, with any players wanting to train welcome to join other men’s squad during their session.
If there is a groundswell of players wanting us to run our own sessions and for there to be compulsory training, then things are always open to change, but it’s not going to happen if it’s only a group of only 7-8-9 wanting to train weekly, which with injuries and holidays will undoubtedly become a group of 6 in any given week, then probably fall to a group of 3-4 in mid-winter.
The thinking behind optional training is this: we will typically enter a season with a squad of 16-17, but due to family/work commitments, at least 6-7 Over 35s will simply not be able to train. At all. If the Over35s policy is for compulsory training (i.e. in order for a player to be in contention to play on the weekend, they had to have trained during the week), those boys would not register. If we lose those players, we go into the season with 10-11 players, probably forfeit many of our early games and the team folds forever. As it stands, the Over 35s concept is not tenable without optional training being a fundamental tenet of how the team is run.
There are many examples of the setup being successful, one I know of for a fact because a best mate of mine coaches there, is the Strathmore Split Old Boys – they haven’t done a single training session in 10 years, have won 5 titles, including FFV Metropolitan 2, which is quite a few divisions above our level. Without training once. So this victimhood “oh we don’t train so can’t win” bullshit thinking has got to go out the fucking window.
The committee unanimously backed the optional training option for the Over 35s and that’s why things are run the way they are. On game day, the best 11/squad available is selected, regardless of who trained or not. If you have an issue with the above policy, please let me know directly, and again, if there is a groundswell of player support behind changing it, we’ll assess what’s best going forward.
Our focus has always been on winning, but it is a game, and it is to be enjoyed, – we are here to play out of our skins for every result, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a laugh with teammates in the lead up.
We have such a great squad on the field and great personalities off the field – it’s shaping up as a very even season, and I have every confidence that we are a team where our absolute best can win a title and our worst can have us finish mid-table – as natural competitors, it’s exactly the type of league we want to prove ourselves.
We are 3 days away from the season start gentlemen. Start focusing, start firing up!