This is the second in a series of ‘Life in Football’ articles which looks at the people behind the scenes at GAFC and their careers in the world’s most popular sport.
This article first appeared in the Guiseley AFC Matchday Programme, for more exclusive content be sure to pick one up from our sellers before games at Nethermoor.
Flying under the radar during a season many Guiseley fans would like to forget, the Lions’ Academy has been producing brilliant results, and the Under-19s are currently sitting at the top of Division J in the National League Under-19s Alliance.
Since being founded in 2013 by then Chairman Phil Rogerson, the Academy set up has gone from strength to strength, and has grown to include a Centre of Excellence and is expanding every year.
Currie has been the Head of the Academy since its foundation, firstly at his old school Carr Manor in Leeds, and under his stewardship the Academy has improved each year to become an imposing force at their level.
They are more than capable of competing with the Academies set up by professional clubs.
After playing several years of Scottish football, Currie turned to teaching when he realised that his dream of making a living playing football was unlikely to happen. Once a talented prospect, a knee operation cut short his career.
Currie, however, believes that his experience of setbacks has been beneficial in his coaching career.
“I might not have made it as a professional footballer but I know what the pitfalls are, what I could have done better, and what other lads need to do.
“Education is really important for them. We now run the education side of things at Benton Park School in Rawdon and at Shipley College,” he said.
Last year the Benton Park squad represented the school and won the English Schools’ Cup winning the final played at Doncaster Rovers ground.
Currie said: “There are very few of us who actually make a living as a professional footballer.
Preparing the kids for football is one of the main objectives but equally, if not more important, is their education.”
This is especially important given the nature of the Guiseley Academy.
A large number of the players have been let go by other clubs, allowing Guiseley to pick them up.
Setbacks like this though can affect a player’s confidence, meaning that a coach with Currie’s experience is extremely beneficial.
“There’s a lot of kids here who have been released because of their size, or because there’s one aspect of their game which has lacked so it is up to us to try and help them improve that aspect, as well as their overall game,” he said.
“They have been at those clubs since they were kids until they get released, so we are giving them a second lease of life and telling them that their dream is not over. “We have got a motto in the Academy, ‘Prove them wrong’,” he said.
Dave credits these setbacks for creating a special type of footballer.
He said: “The ability to overcome obstacles and improve breeds mental toughness in a player and a mentality that you need to work hard to achieve your goals.
“The kids we’ve got are strong,” he said, “sometimes getting setbacks can spur you on to achieve more. “These kids do have a bit more steel about them in terms of their attitude.
“They know that they have got to work hard to try and get back to where they should be.”
This model has proved to be successful over the years, with several Academy members being signed by professional clubs.
Ben Whitfield was signed by Premiership club Bournemouth in 2014 and is currently out on loan to gain experience with Neil Aspin at Port Vale while Jacob Brown was signed by Barnsley, as well as many players signing with the Lions’ first team squad, young goalkeeper Fletch Paley being the latest example.
“Seeing these kids succeed is definitely the best part of the job,” Currie said.
“The good thing with the lads who have moved on is that they are still in contact with us, and they still look upon Guiseley as being the start of their career.”
As well as helping to develop the players mentally, Currie also stressed the importance of developing them physically.
Academy football is a completely different world from first team football and he wants the players to be prepared for the physicality of life in the National League.
While professional clubs tend to shelter their prospects in the Academy leagues for as long as possible, Currie and his Academy staff want them to be training alongside the first team and playing against older, veteran players to develop the physical side of their game.
“We want them to play against men early on in their career, which is different from the way professional football clubs work.
“Players from other clubs are used to playing in the Academy leagues and by the time they come to play at the likes of Guiseley they’ve never actually played against a man before.
“We try and expose them to it early so it doesn’t come as a shock when they move into playing the men’s game,” he said.
In this respect Currie has been able to use his other role currently working as assistant manager with interim first team boss Sean St Ledger to help benefit the Academy.
He credits St Ledger for being willing to bring in Academy players to make up the numbers in first team training.
Written by Alex Smith – Alex has written a series of articles on the people who work behind the scenes at the club.
He is studying for a Masters Degree at Leeds Trinity University in Horsforth.