We sat down with keeper coach Craig Wight recently to discuss all things goalkeeping – and a few other things besides – as he continues the process of settling into his new surroundings.
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The former Stirling, Cowdenbeath and Livingston stopper, who also played college football in America, and with FC Aland and Mariehamn in Finland, is now into his fourth month with the club and has already experienced some interesting times, both on and off the pitch.
“I’m enjoying it here a lot,” he said. “Obviously when you get a new job you think things are going to go a certain way, and this couldn’t have gone any better than it has.
“My first game was Crewe away in the FA Cup, and Adam had a clean sheet, and we had the same outcome in the next away game at Swindon.
“I can remember Adam saying to me, as we walked off the pitch at that game, ‘this English game is easy, isn’t it’ and I had a smile to myself about that. We’re now over 20 games into me being here and it’s all just continuing to snowball in a very good way.
“As we speak, there haven’t really been any hiccups, and hopefully there won’t be any in the future. For me, I watch a lot of documentaries, and it’s like people who are climbing Everest and they tell you that the biggest challenge is to get to base camp because everything after that is a bonus.
“I think, as a club, we’re just at base camp. This team can go so much further than where it is right now as long its stay together and keeps believing in what we’re doing for each other. It’s very easy in this industry to be selfish and think that you’re only in it for yourself, but the best thing this group has is that they’re not only in it for themselves, they’re in it for each other.
“That means that when it gets a little bit tough, which it always does, they’re willing to dig in for each other and try to pull something out. That doesn’t mean we win every game, but it does mean that we don’t roll over without giving something back. You can’t ask for more than that.”
And with morale high through what has been a very enjoyable campaign so far he admitted that the stadium has a nice feel about it as the club looks to build on the work done through the first half of the season.
“It’s a place where it really is a pleasure to come in to work every day,” he confirmed. “This possibly sounds bad, but it doesn’t feel like I’m at work.
“It feels like I’m with people who want the same as me. They want to be successful, they want to enjoy what they’re doing, and it can feel like we’re a bunch of kids in the playground at times.
“But the important thing is that as soon as it needs to get serious, it gets serious. The focus when it comes to developing, improving and learning, be that about yourselves or the opposition, or whatever, is second to none.
“That’s because everyone knows that everybody else is going out there every day to put maximum effort in. They’re a very easy group to work with because they know what the aim is, and that aim is for us to be successful.
“That’s what we want, but we’re under no illusions that, just as it is in any other line of business, you can only achieve that through hard work.”
Having come into the building to work with two keepers who were already well into the swing of a League Two campaign, he commented: “I think they’re so much better than what I expected. I came in with the mindset where I felt I needed to judge them early, even though I’d done my homework on them. Having seen their clips I knew what I was getting into, but I honestly can’t speak highly enough of them.
“The way they deal with me is fantastic and the other real positive is that they just get on with their work every single day. They can’t wait to get out to train and I can’t wait to get out there with them. If you have that going for you, it can only create an environment where we all want to be better and do even more.
“We know Louis is absolutely desperate to be out there and I have sympathy for him because of that, but I don’t feel bad for him. As much as Adam is playing well and in good form, and I still think there’s more we can get from him, by the way, Louis is doing exactly the same. If you could play two keepers I think we’d be the happiest team in the world, because they’re as good as each other.
“The way Louis goes about his business on a daily basis has to be a benchmark for everybody else. His attitude is fantastic. He just gets on with what he has to do and the way he trains and does his work pushes other people to be better, simply because he’s doing everything right.
“His work ethic and attitude are brilliant and if anyone else has a gripe about not being in the team you just turn to them and say – look at Louis Gray, you tell me what he’s done wrong to not get a game, and the only answer they can give is nothing.
“He makes some unbelievable saves to the point where the coaching staff walk off the training pitch talking about how good he was. The only reason he’s not getting a game is because Adam is doing exactly the same as what he’s is doing. They’re both battling each other at the same time as helping each other, and that’s setting an example to the rest of the team.”
“They’re the only guys in the squad who only have one spot to fight for, but they go about it in such a positive way that it lifts everybody,” he continued. “I’m a sport nut, and the New England Patriots are the most successful NFL team in the history of the competition, and their coach has a thing which is called ‘the more you can do’ - but he doesn’t quantify it to say you need to do more of this or more of that. It’s left up to you as a person to decide what ‘the more’ is that you can do.
“Both of our keepers are doing that without even being asked or told. They’re putting everything into being the best they can be, and it’s a pleasure to watch.
“That, of course, then feeds out to the rest of the players because they know these lads are doing everything they can to get a game at the same time as helping them to be better at their jobs. It really is a fantastic environment to work in.”
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