Interview with our goalkeeper, Garry Black

Q: Was goalkeeper the first position you played in, or was there a time when you played outfield?
Garry Black: I’ve always been a keeper. As long as I can remember it was always the chubby guy who went in goals! I eventually got used to it and started taking it seriously. It wasn’t long before I loved being a keeper, and saving a shot for me is on par with scoring a goal. Conceding one, however, is like a real kick in the teeth.

Q: What was your first team and did you enjoy it there?
GB: The first team I joined was Clyde Boys Club Under-12’s. I had never played organised football before and my big pal Harry kept asking me to come along to training. We were best pals and stayed in the same housing scheme, so we were always out playing football together every day anyway so I decided to join. I really enjoyed my time there. That season we won nineteen games and drew the other, so I guess we were like almost invincible!

Q: When did you realise you had a talent for goalkeeping?
GB: When I was younger my mates kept on at me to join a team, because we all played street football together and when I started to play 11-a-side, I was about 11 or 12 years old. It was only then that I realised I was quite good at it.
I had always loved the thought of being a goalkeeper. When I was just six or seven, I used to bonce a tennis ball off the wall in my bedroom and dive full length to try and save it. I used to kid on I was big Rab Douglas!

Q: Do you agree that you have to be a bit mad to be a goalkeeper?
GB: You only have to look at me and Andy Duncan for your answer! And then there’s Graeme Wallace, who played at Maryhill last season. To be honest, you need to be completely fearless. And, yes, you also have to be a bit mad. It certainly helps anyway.
I suppose when you look at some of the greatest keepers we’ve seen in this country, like Artur Boruc, Allan McGregor and Andy Goram; they all have a mad side to them, so I’d say it definitely helps. But what helps most is fearlessness, and playing for the badge till the final whistle.

Q: What’s the most goals you’ve lost in a single game?
GB: At the start of the season we played Pollok at Newlandsfield in a Sectional League Cup tie and they were dynamite that day. I lost eight goals and it was a horrific feeling. It kills you for days, and you can’t wait to get training out the way so you can get back playing and try to rectify things. You really need to look upon the next game as a clean slate.

Q: Describe your greatest save.
GB: I could name a few…nah, only kidding! To be honest, I can only remember a couple, but my favourite save while with Maryhill has to be last season through at Shotts. We were winning 2-1 and they had missed a penalty late on. We were all buzzing at being so close to getting a good result at the home of one of the favourites to win the league. But in the last couple of minutes, their winger put a great ball into the box, and it went over the top of our defence. It fell kindly to one of their forwards on the six-yard line. He was one-on-one with me and he volleyed it towards the top right hand corner of the goal. It looked a homer, but somehow I got up there to push it over the bar and we survived the resulting corner and won the match. I was bursting with energy when the final whistle sounded. What a fantastic feeling! It also went some way to keeping us up.

Q: You were with Annan Athletic for a while – how did that move come about?
GB: Everybody who plays football surely dreams that one day they will play professionally. Or at the very least play at the highest level possible, so that is why I always dreamed of making it as a pro. A few folk I knew advised me to join the Jimmy Johnstone Academy, because they had a good reputation for preparing you for that type of career, and giving boys ample opportunities if they were prepared to put in the work. Jim Simonette was the president, and also our manager and he took me up to Celtic for a trial, before recommending me to John Joyce and Jim Chapman at Annan. He sent me and a few other boys down there on trial and I ended up signing for the club. I got that opportunity because of the hard work I’d put in earlier.

Q: Did you enjoy it at Galabank?
GB: Absolutely. I loved it. It was a great experience, especially being the age that I was, and I was in and about players who were older and a lot more experienced than me. I was training with guys like Kenny Arthur and Alex Mitchell, which was invaluable for someone my age. Seeing how they did things professionally, at training and in the lead-up to games was fantastic. I really enjoyed the time I spent there and I would love to get back to that level at some point. I still keep in touch with a few of the guys I played with down there so it was a very positive experience.

Q: Was there not a lot of travelling involved?
GB: I was 17 at the time so I didn’t drive but the club made sure we all got picked up, and the players who I relied upon from Glasgow were brilliant. I always got picked up in Stepford, in the east end of Glasgow. Jordan Moffat would pick me up, then Chizzy (Iain Chisholm), and we would head down south. We did that twice a week, and would then make arrangements for wherever we were playing at the weekend. If we had a Reserve League game during the week, we quite often wouldn’t get home till around midnight, which was brutal, but it had to be done.

Q: What did you do after life at Annan?
GB: After I stopped playing for them I started to focus more on getting an apprenticeship. I was in sixth year at school and was panicking a bit because I thought I wasn’t going to have a job when I left so all my efforts went into that.
Football wise, I started playing with a few pals from the Gorbals. The team was called Gorbals United, but it was basically just a big kick about with a group of pals who turned up on a Sunday. We didn’t train, but it was great fun.
After playing for Gorbals United, my current teammate Ged Dobbs said that FC Baillieston were looking for a keeper, so I went along. Turned out they were a right good side as well. It was full of boys who’d played together for about ten years. They all had FC Baillieston tattoos, so it wasn’t just a football team but more a way of life.
It was while at Baillieston that I decided to give football another go. I was serious about it and wanted to see where it would take me, especially as I had secured an apprenticeship and I could focus a bit more on the football. I had a great time at Baillieston and I made loads of mates there. Top class team.

Q: How did you end up at Lochburn?
GB: Maryhill were apparently desperate for a keeper as big Andy Duncan was injured just a few games into the season. Manager Alan Kelly put out the feelers and asked his goalkeeper coach Harry McLaughlin to ask around. Harry called John Joyce to get my number, but he apparently didn’t get an answer when he phoned me. He then called Kenny Arthur, and he called the office at my work. They told my gaffer and he phoned me to say a team wanted me to play in goals for them. I thought it was maybe somebody at the wind up so I didn’t take it too seriously, but when he said it was Maryhill, I panicked in case I was too late. I called straight away and thankfully the spot was still there! I got there in the end.

Q: How are you enjoying your time at the club?
GB: It’s dynamite at Maryhill! We’ve got a brilliant bunch of boys and even though we haven’t had an awful lot of success on the pitch so far, we are definitely improving. There has been a lot of changes recently and I’m just gutted that we haven’t been able to continue our obvious improvement due to the Covid-19 ban. We are now a much stronger team with strength in every position.

Q: What’s your best moment at the club so far?
GB: I’ve had a lot of good moments at Maryhill, but I’ll start with a belter. For my first game, Alan Kelly told me we were meeting at Lochburn to get the team bus to our game. I was running a bit late so as I was leaving the house I just grabbed a jacket. I hadn’t signed for the club so I didn’t have a tracksuit. I had grabbed a Celtic top, which I thought would be okay. It wasn’t. I took absolute pelters all the way to Royal Albert. The banter was top drawer – but I didn’t dare make that mistake again!
Game wise, there have been plenty that I’ve enjoyed. One that springs to mind is a game against Bellshill away. I saved a pen and we won 2-1. It was a cracking result. Or what about (Andrew) Skinner’s zing into the top bin against Girvan. That goal meant a lot.
Perthshire away this season was also a cracker. The pitch was an absolute mud bath but it was a cracking game with both teams giving everything. A right good Scottish game of fitba!

Q: Who are the best dressed guys in the dressing room?
GB: There are a few guys who turn up for games in suits. That makes them the best dressed!

Q: And the fashionista disasters?
GB: To be honest, there’s a few at Maryhill. Not sure if I qualify but I got a cool pair of sliders in Tenerife and I wear them to training. Dynamite!
Big Bob’s (Robert McKenzie) space boots are different. Boycie’s ‘lost and found’ shorts (coach, Tony Boyce), and then there’s Sam wearing jobbie flickers with Joma shorts. Horrendous!

Q: How are you handling things at the moment with football stopped?
GB: It’s murder, to be honest. It’s hard not being able to play or train, but when you put it into perspective, people’s health is far more important. But when football is a big part of your life, it’s hard not being able to get out and get a training session in with the boys. But I’ve set up the weight bench out the back, so I’ve been spending a lot of time at that. My young brother and I have also been heading down to the local football pitch to get some practice in. We live in the same household so as long as we keep our distance from others then we’re okay. We get to do some work in a proper-sized goalmouth, so while it’s not exactly a game it’s not too bad. I hope things can get sorted out soon, though, as it’s really serious.

Q: Maryhill have expressed their intent to move to the new pyramid set up. What’s your thoughts on that?
GB: The people at Maryhill know exactly what’s best for the club, so there are no worries there. I’ve read a bit about it and it looks really exciting. The prospect of a pyramid set up is fantastic and I think had the club chosen not to explore that option, we would have been deprived of a great opportunity. It will be exciting to see what the future holds for the club as you never know what will happen.

Q: Finally, can you name a player who could play with two boots the same?
GB: hat’s easy. Scott Edgar – who has two left feet!

originally posted on twitter on 31/3/20

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