Goalkeeping coach Craig Gibson bids farewell to Cray Valley for a new life in West Yorkshire

Thursday 02nd December 2021

GOALKEEPING coach Craig Gibson bids farewell to Cray Valley (Paper Mills) on Saturday as he and his wife head north for new life in West Yorkshire to move closer to his son.

Based in Grays, Essex, Gibson has played a key role in helping manager Kevin Watson win the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division title and seal a FA Vase Final appearance at Wembley Stadium and are currently challenging for promotion from the Isthmian League South East Division this season.

Gibson said: “Having previously worked with Terry Spillane at Maldon & Tiptree in the North Division, when he took the job at Thamesmead Town, I followed him to work as goalkeeper coach and they appointed Andy Walker as first-team goalkeeper.

“I then developed a really close relationship with Andy. Following Walks’ serious knee injury and the demise of Thamesmead, we went our separate ways for a couple of years until I received a call from Walks asking me to come over to Cray Valley where he was playing.

“I then met with (assistant manager) Tommy Osborne and Kevin Watson and they told me they were happy for me to come on board as goalkeeping coach as they didn’t have one at the time and it went from there.”

The Exeter City supporter, told the club website, how he became a goalkeeping coach.

“When I was coaching youth teams, I used to get really annoyed at watching young goalkeepers getting battered by balls flying at them in training and before matches, and being a frustrated goalkeeper in my youth, I decided to step in and coach a few goalkeepers to help them out.

“When I first joined Maldon & Tiptree it was to work with another outfield coach but I found myself working with their goalkeepers during pre-season and was then invited to join them as a goalkeeping coach. It just went from there really.

“I’m very big on enthusiasm, passion and drive and try to instil that in the players I work with.

“As a defender, I see situations from a different perspective to my goalkeepers and try to pass that on in the work we do – angles at corners, free-kicks etc.

“I also like to learn from the senior goalkeepers I work with and pass that experience onto the youngsters.”

The Millers are currently in second-place in the table with 34 points from 15 games and are a point behind Tommy Warrilow’s Ashford United.

Herne Bay come to Middle Park Avenue on Saturday for Gibson’s last game at the club and Ben Smith’s side are in fifth-place in the pecking order, with four fewer points and a game in hand.

“One of my abiding memories as I leave the club is of the camaraderie in the dressing room.  Kevin Watson is very big at signing not just good players, but good people.  That process has made it a very happy and welcoming place to be.

“Despite the difference in age, the players at the club have always been very friendly towards me and made me feel part of the group – and that’s fantastic.”

Visit Cray Valley’s website: www.crayvalleypmfc.com