Homesbook Factoring McGouldrick's Pool and Sports Bar

Q&A With… Paul Stewart

In his first interview for, Graham Murray restarts the popular ‘Q&A’ series for 2009-10 by speaking to Paul Stewart. The Clyde captain provided informative, interesting and honest responses when he spoke to Graham during the week…

GM: Hi Paul, thanks for taking the time to speak to the Clyde website. You were actually involved in the selection process throughout the trials, how did that arise?

PS: Hi Graham, thanks for inviting me on. My involvement with Clyde started last season when I trained full-time with the squad and also played part-time with East Fife FC. The manager had asked me to sign during the summer and, due to Dougie Bell being on holiday, I was more than happy to help out with the warm-ups and the skill practises the trials involved. My role during the trials was basically as a player only and to get myself fit and ready for the season ahead. But I enjoyed the responsibility the manager gave me during the process which was really just warming the players up and taking part in the trials myself. The selection process was the managers and Dougie Bell’s department, which I was pleased about as at the end of the day I am a player just like everyone in the squad.
To be part of the trials was a great experience for me as I was able to see firsthand the hard work and demanding task the manager had of selecting the players, but also the commitment of everyone taking part. The opportunity to play a small part within the trials was a great experience and I appreciated the role I was given.

You of course now have added responsibility since the departure of Dougie Bell. How do you feel you will be able to cope with not only being a player, but the captain and also assisting the manager?

The manager has to spoken to everyone that he expects eleven captains out there on the pitch which I believe is correct. I firmly believe it doesn’t matter who gets chosen to wear the armband as every professional footballer should be focused on doing their best for the team regardless of what role that is. As I have mentioned before, as captain I have enjoyed taking the warm up and skill practises during training even when Dougie was still assisting the manager. So my role hasn’t changed since Dougie’s departure. I have always focused on working hard and setting a high standard for myself in training and if being captain helps the younger players do well then great, but everyone must believe in their own ability and work hard for the team. Being part-time this year, myself and the players must be responsible and strive to do that little bit extra ourselves as we are only training two nights a week. At present we have eight players including myself who are available during the day who are working hard on their overall fitness by doing upper body circuits – all of which is of the players own accord.

The difficulties facing the club this season and the effect they have had on the squad budget has been well documented. How hard will it be to motivate the team to avoid another relegation?

Part-time football has changed dramatically this season in terms of wage structures in all the lower leagues. With regards to Clyde’s structure it would be great to say I was on a lot more. However, I was offered a decent deal to stay on at East Fife this season and knew what I was signing with regards to Clyde’s wages etc. My motivation was to enjoy a new challenge and enjoy my football closer to home. With this in mind I decided Clyde was an opportunity to start a fresh after a successful spell in Fife. I believe the players will be highly motivated themselves to prove to everyone that they can play at this level and have the ability to survive in this division. Every single player who joins a new club has something to prove, even if it is player bought for a transfer fee or a trialist being selected through a selection process. The aim is to prove you are good enough if not better. The motivation carrot for the squad this year is to prove we are good enough and play with a real desire. It is important the players take this opportunity and show how good a player they are. If a player has that motivation then it will only enhance Clyde’s aim to return to the First Division never mind surviving in the Second Division.

Having been involved in the trials process and now an integral part of the team, and having sampled life in the lower divisions, do you think the team have the ability to surprise pundits and fans alike?

Yes, I am sure the squad has the individual ability to do well and surprise everyone. However it is important that the team begins to show that ability as a group and play more as a unit, which I am sure will happen given time and patience. The players selected from the process have all done well to get a contract. However, the honeymoon period is over and the real hard work began when the league and cup matches started. So far as a team and as individuals we have not set the heather on fire, so we have a lot to prove to ourselves and everyone that we are good enough. I believe the squad has the capabilities to compete at this level but are still trying to find their feet. Many teams started their pre-season as Clyde began holding the trials, so we are still playing catch up with teams in terms of finding our strongest eleven and the squad’s fitness level. Last season the Second Division was contested by teams all capable of beating each other on their day. With respect to Raith Rovers and Ayr United who gained promotion, they proved they were more consistent and had the better and bigger squads then the rest. I believe this year will be very similar in that each team will be capable of beating each other. It is as simple as who wants to win the game more!

You were, of course, at Clyde as a youngster and now find yourself coaching and playing alongside a team of mostly youngsters. What are the easiest and hardest aspects of this?

Yes, I was at Clyde from the age of 16 to 20-years-old as a YTS player and then as a full-time player. Unfortunately I wasn’t given the opportunity to play in the first team due to Clyde having a more experienced squad back in those days and decided to move on to further my career in football and outside football. A highlight was winning the Third Division with East Fife and gaining a university degree in Sport Development. Today it is encouraging to see many younger players being given their chance in the first team, as previously the lower leagues were full of more experienced players looking for financial gain. Again, as mentioned earlier, the wage structure in place at Clyde has proved that the players signed are here to prove they are good enough to play at this level and are not motivated by money. There are many players still playing at junior level and in the Third Division purely because of the type of wages being offered at those respected levels. So it is important for everyone to realise that some people are motivated by money and will continue to play at a lower level due to those circumstances. However, it is encouraging to see the motivation of the Clyde squad – they are a younger side but they all have a first class attitude in training which is great to see. Hopefully they gain the confidence to produce that ability and attitude in the league matches. The manager has proved this year by giving Connor Stevenson the captain’s armband that if you are good enough then you are old enough.

Finally, although there has been some promise in the games the fans have seen so far, ultimately there has been more disappointment so far and many fear the worst. What would you say to the Clyde fans, desperately looking for positives?

The manager and the players are all working hard on the training ground and doing their best to improve the squad. The players are working hard to improve on the mistakes we have made so far but also improve the performances we have put on show. We all want the best for Clyde and to be part of a winning team.
My message would be to keep supporting the manager and the squad. The encouragement so far has been great for the younger players even though the results have not been a success yet. We as players will continue to work hard to perform to the standard the manager and fans expect.