Concord Rangers have had some exceptional goalkeepers over the last few seasons, and instrumental to all that is goalkeeping coach Danny Clare.
In what is often an unsung role, the art of being a good goalkeeping coach is just not about practicing saves, but developing the mindset and concentration of a goalkeeper.
I spoke with Danny about goalkeeping coaching, being a goalkeeper himself and what was his biggest clanger.
Did you ever have trials at a professional level? Did you always want to be a goalkeeper growing up?
I played for Watford and spent some of my school holidays staying in digs and training with the first team, it was a great experience but for one reason or another it never worked out for me. When I left school, I also had trials elsewhere but again these come to nothing. To be honest, I actually started my footballing career by playing out on pitch, but the team I played for never had a regular goalkeeper. One week I had actually played a match for my older brother's team earlier in the day, so the manager said go in goal and have a rest...I never conceded a goal and I never looked back from there!
So did you have a goalkeeping idol growing up?
Yeah I did, and it has to be Ray Clemence, and I don't think Liverpool have had a better keeper since. I loved it when he signed for Spurs, as my brother was playing for them at the time and I got to watch him train and play loads!!
How long have you been at Concord as a player/reserve team manager/keeper coach?
I had two spells at Concord as a player in our first season in the Essex Senior League in 1991/1992, and then I came back and played when my good friend Steve Knott was gaffer.
I was reserve team manager for a couple of seasons, I started helping out the reserve team manager in Dan's (Cowley) first season with Scopesy in 2007/2008. I then took over as manager the following season, and the reserves were moved into the Capital league on Wednesday nights, so that allowed me to start coaching the keepers which was what I always wanted to do.
Who has been the best goalkeeper you've coached?
So far I would say Josh Vickers, it was a great opportunity to work with a full time pro and get his feedback from my coaching. I also enjoy coaching the youngsters and in the group I have at the moment there's a young lad called Tommy Woodcock, he has great potential. He is a natural who just lives and breathes goalkeeping and is a joy to work with.
Is goalkeeping coaching more about the psychology than the actual keeper coaching? I always feel that any goalkeeper can make saves, but it's their concentration which is key.
I would say that and fitness, as you say must people can put a pair of gloves on and make a few saves, it's when you haven't been involved in long spells of the game and your called upon to make a game changing save then it's down to how switched on you are and how quick you can react to that situation. So from my coaching, if you can give the goalkeeper confidence in their ability and the right levels of fitness to react, then more often or not they will make that save.
Stepping back to your time as reserve team manager...is it something you would consider doing again?
I have to say I enjoyed it immensely, especially the second season when we moved into the Capital League as I got to take the squad players who didn't play on the Tuesday, and the odd trialist. It is something I would consider doing again, but as long as it didn't interfere with my goalkeeping coaching.
You've been involved with Concord for a long time, what is the appeal of the club?
The people at the club are a massive part of it whether there involved with the team, committee or watching. Everyone pulls in the same direction, and has the best interests of the club at heart.
How much are you looking forward to working under the new management team?
Adam (Flanagan) did a great job at Brentwood taking them from relegation favourites to promotion, and I have heard nothing but good things about Jody (Brown), so I am very much looking forward to working with them and helping them create another great side at Concord.
You've done some pretty epic endurance events. Have you always been interested in that kind of thing? Do you have anymore on the horizon?
Yeah I love pushing myself! The mountains were great fun, but it hurt like hell! I did the 24hr 3 peak challenge with 6 other goalkeepers....who says we're all mad haha!!
I've applied to do the London marathon again so hopefully I will get in, but a cycling challenge has always interested me, so something like London to Paris or even a triathlon!
Bloody hell...do you actually unwind and relax?
Oh yes, there's always time for that, I love spending time with my family and friends.
Right let's end up with a question about goalkeeping. What is the greatest save you've ever made?
Oh there's too many to remember...next question!
Ok, what is the biggest clanger!
Oh that's easy, and I'm sure someone on the committee has prompted this question haha! Ok...I was playing for Concord in a pre-qualifying round of the FA Cup against Haringey. We had a throw on, and the full back wanted to throw it back to me, it wasn't on but he still did it...I controlled it and tried to kick it as far as I could, but the forward had closed me down, he jumped turning his back at the same time, so the ball hits him on the arse and flew into the top corner! That made the score 5-0 so it had no bearing on the game, however unfortunately for me we were the only FA Cup game playing that weekend, so Sky Sports were there with the cameras. They showed it on Sky Sports News and the presenter signed of the clip by saying poor old Danny Clare, which as you can imagine the team lived off that for months, even to the extent of playing it on a loop down the club for the whole Sunday lunchtime with most of the team in attendance, still to this day I get called poor old Danny Clare lol!!