IN THE DUGOUT: APRIL 24TH: YOU LEARN MORE ABOUT YOURSELF IN DEFEAT
By IAIN KING, Head Coach, BSC Lowland League brought to you in association with Sport Careers
YOU learn more about yourself and your players in defeat than in victory.
Those words came from Edinburgh City coach Gary Jardine when I spoke to him this week for Rocksport’s Lowland Lowdown ahead of Saturday’s historic Pyramid Play-off first leg clash with Highland League champions Brora Rangers at Meadowbank.
Gary was talking about a shock local Cup defeat from Leith Athletic and the 5-0 reverse in the SFA Challenge semi-final at our hands in the SFA Challenge last four.
He feels City’s title winners have refocused, won three on the spin including clean sheets against Spartans and Whitehill Welfare and put themselves back on track for two games that could change their football lives forever.
I thought of those words on the way home from Wednesday night’s 3-0 win over Whitehill that puts us through to the last eight of the Scottish Sun Plus Lowland League Cup against East Kilbride FC .
Back on February 7 we travelled to Meadowbank and lost 3-0 to City, it was a meek surrender and we got turned over. Three slick corner ploys, three goals.
I wasn’t sharp enough as a coach, our players switched off. End of story.
There was a lot of soul-searching in the wake of that defeat for me, we’d looked a developing side in a superb 3-0 win at Spartans then lurched back into also-rans against the then champions-elect. It stung.
What has followed, though, has been proof positive that you DO learn more as a group in defeat than you do in victory.
We asked for a response and – 45 minutes of unacceptable standards at Threave Rovers aside – we have been given that over the last 10 games.
We’ve lost once, we’re unbeaten in seven, we’ve leaked just seven goals against some of the Lowland’s top sides.
The one defeat we did suffer – to Edinburgh City in the league – came on the back of an over-ruled offside call that killed us and left us out of position before Gerry O’Connell’s dreadfully unfortunate own goal.
The thrilling semi-final win over City that took us to the SFA Challenge Cup Final win against Civil Service Strollers at Whitehill’s Ferguson Park on Saturday May 23 has made history for the club in our rookie season.
Now we have a home last eight clash in the other big Cup competition and the season is gathering real momentum just when it matters most.
As coaches we have tried to learn to keep some sort of balance to our reactions to defeat in our second season coaching at this level.
Last season I remember one loss as Kilby coach when we missed 13 open chances in a 1-0 home defeat from Vale of Leithen.
It wrecked my entire weekend, dark moods, no smiles, family paying the price for the fact you lost a football match. No perspective.
These days I try to enjoy the good days and, as Gary said, take my dumps and learn from our defeats.
Gradually the work we have undertaken on the training field on organisation, on pressing, on possession has seeped into the matches and developed us into a far better team.
There has also been an acceptance of our decisions on team selection and a togetherness typified by players like skipper Jamie Brophy and Gerry O’Connell.
Those guys and others have had to stomach calls they might not like as we have juggled our resources in a hectic schedule.
Yet they have taken them the right away for the good of the group.
That’s the way it HAS to be as we move into the last month of this rollercoaster season.
We can achieve something special here but there’s only one way it happens. Together.
Enjoy your weekend,