Q&A with New Manager Daryl McKenzie!
Photo Credit: Ryan Masheder Photography
New manager Daryl McKenzie speaks to our match reporter, Charlotte Wilde, about his new job as Tayport manager.
Congratulations Daryl on your new job, how does it feel to be the manager of Tayport Football Club?
It feels brilliant! I am delighted to be at the club. It’s a fantastic club that I have always looked at with great integrity, ambition and its fantastic history. It’s a great wee place to come, watch and play football. I am really looking forward to getting my teeth into it.
What was it that attracted you to the manager's position here at Tayport?
It was Dave Baikie, if I’m being honest. Dave basically offered me the job, it was fantastic. It’s a club that I’ve always looked at with respect, always admired it from afar. It’s always been a professional and well run club. When I was growing up and started to play junior football, that was Tayport’s most successful era. It’s just a fantastic place to watch football. When you come over to Tayport, you always get that buzz. It’s a nice wee ground, with the stand, and the crowd are always very vocal, it’s a big open pitch too. You know you’ve got the famous hedge at the back and it’s just a really good place to come and watch football. I always got excited to come across and play against Tayport, with the thought that if we could win here, it would feel like a landmark moment for Forfar West End and latterly Broughty Athletic.
You were at Broughty Athletic as assistant manager and prior to that you were manager at Forfar West End, are you pleased to be back in the manager's seat?
Yes and No. Yes, on the grounds of, it’s always been an ambition of mine to be a football manager. I started off in management at the age of 26, believe it or not, at Forfar West End, and that came completely out of the blue. I loved my 7 and a half years as player/manager at Forfar West End. I had no real ambition to get back into the junior game until Darren Scott got the job at Broughty Athletic. I am a good friend of Darren and we’ve known each other since high school. We’ve stayed in touch, we’ve played together and I actually signed Darren twice for Forfar West End. So when he got the job at Broughty Athletic, he asked me to help him and I did that. I was happy being a number 2 and I was enjoying my time there. But when the opportunity came to become a number 1 again, especially at a club like Tayport, it was one that I felt I just couldn’t turn down. The downside of the job is the 100 miles per hour realism of it all, so since I accepted the post on Thursday night, it’s been a fairly hectic few days, as you can imagine. That will calm down over time, but that part of the job you do learn to forget when you are not in charge.
Although you have been assistant at Broughty and manager at Forfar West End you haven't yet hung up your boots, can we expect to see you pull on the red of Tayport on the pitch or will you be staying in the dugout?
No is the answer. I haven’t hung up my boots officially yet. I had gone into a bit of a retirement with Broughty Athletic, as I wanted to focus more on the coaching side of it, which both me and Darren felt was the right thing to do. I will be a registered player for Tayport, but hopefully it all goes well with our signing targets, then the hope is I won’t have to take to the field too much. We are in a difficult position at the moment with the number of signed players and we do need to improve in all areas of the pitch. So I will be a registered player, I will be playing on Saturday against Syngenta and certainly in the upcoming friendlies. I am 37 now, so the idea is for me to take a bit of a back seat and help some of the younger players with the experience, knowledge and maturity that I’ve got. I will play at times, but I wouldn’t expect to see me pulling on the red shirt too often.
You arrived at the club with the players just a week into pre-season training, although it's not as long as you would usually have with the players in pre-season, is it still beneficial that you are getting some time with the players before the league season begins?
Yes, we are a week into pre-season training. It’s good to have the boys on the training pitch. Pre-season is always a good time to try and get across your methods and ideas and this one will be no different. I would have liked to have longer. In an ideal world, I would have had a 2 week lead in time to plan, prepare and to get new signings in. I would have liked a full 4/5 weeks of pre-season with the players but that’s not the case, and you’ve got to go with what you’ve got. We’ve got enough time and we’ve got 3 friendlies coming up which will be good for us and we’ll be ready for the league starting on the 23rd of July -funnily enough, against Broughty Athletic. There will be some new faces coming in, which is always good but pre-season is always important as there isn’t that pressure cooker of getting that result on a Saturday. You can relax, you can embed your ideas, you can talk to the players and really get that information across to them.
What are your short-term goals for the club and then your longer-term goals?
Short term goals for the season will be very simple - get a team on the park that can be competitive. A team that can make the committee and supporters proud of what we are trying to do. It has been difficult for the club, obviously with Eddie leaving and then with a few of the more established players leaving the club over the past 6-12 months. It will be hard for us, but I want us to be competitive. I would like us to improve on the league position from last year and I would like us to go one step further in at least one of the cups and actually lift it. That would be my short term goals for the club.
Medium to Longer term goals, I think the club has made no secret, the fact that they want to progress up the Scottish pyramid, looking at the Highland league and other opportunities. The clubs ambition and my ambition is first to be competitive in the league, and then to try and win the league. We want to be successful in cups, this club has got a great history of winning trophies and we want that to start again. We also want to get up into the Highland league and we want to take Tayport as far as we can. The club has got its SFA licence now, which allows us to enter the Scottish Cup and hopefully under my tenure, we can win the league and get up into the Highland league.
The club have recently been accepted as a member of the SFA, this will allow us to progress through the pyramid system if the team achieve the required promotions and it will also see the club compete in the Scottish Cup for the first time in its history, is this an exciting time to be involved with Tayport?
The SFA license is really exciting to be honest with you, it’s great to see clubs in this area showing that ambition, commitment, hard work and determination to get the license. I know the committee have been through some trials to get the ground and the standards of the whole club up to speed of what the SFA require and they have now done that. This is testament to all the hard work that the committee and volunteers have put in, so it’s going to be really exciting! Tayport is a very historical and famous club and for me to be the manager when we have our very first game in the Scottish Cup will be brilliant, it will a moment I will remember for the rest of my life. It will be a very proud day for the club, the town, the supporters and the players. Hopefully we can get a fortunate draw, we can be successful and hopefully draw one of the big boys at home in the coming years.
As a manager do you have a certain way or style that you want your team to play?
Yes, I would say I do have a certain way or style that I want my team to play. I would like to think that my teams have always been fairly renowned for playing good football. I definitely encourage my players to get the ball down the line and pass. I want us to build play from the back, I want us to be in control, dominate and dictate games. I want the players to be courageous and brave in terms of taking the ball in tight areas. I want them to be super confident and to be sure of themselves and their team mates. I also want us to score as many goals as we can. I think that is an important part of any teams’ style. I think players now, as well as supporters, expect entertainment. I just think that’s the expectation of football now at any level. People come to expect to enjoy the game, they don’t want to see the ball in the air. They want to see people being passionate, aggressive and physical as that is a part of our Scottish culture, especially a part of Junior football culture. So I want my team to be all of those things, I also want them to be relentless and ruthless in defence. I want them to also be technically and tactically good enough to get the ball down and play. So I am hoping Tayport will allow me to do that, the pitch is certainly suitable for that and the environment is certainly suitable for that. We have got some young fantastic quality players at the club already and I also want to be adding to that.
Do you have any update on your backroom staff yet or are you still in the process of assembling your coaching team?
In terms of backroom staff, at the moment, Allan and Bobby will be staying on. I’ve also managed to recruit a goalkeeping coach, which is my uncle, Darren McKenzie. Darren had a very good amateur career and had a little spell in the juniors with a few clubs. He was with me from the very beginning when I was manager at Forfar West End and when I resigned he also took a step back. He had a little spell at Kirriemuir Thistle doing the goalkeeping coaching up there for Darren Scott. He has had about a year out of the game since leaving Kirrie but he was my first phone call when I accepted the job. He was delighted to accept my invitation and come back on board. He will be coming in, Bobby and Allan will be staying, as will Chloe and Andy. This is great as they will be looking after the players from a physio point of view. I’ve worked with Bobby before very early on in my career at Forfar West End, Bobby was a coach under me before leaving for Broughty Athletic. So I’ve got that good relationship with Bobby. I don’t know Allan, but I’ve heard good things about him and I look forward to working with him. If there are any changes on that front I will notify people in due course.
Lastly, do you have a message for the Tayport supporters?
Thank you very much for welcoming me to the club! I am really hopeful that this will be the start of a very positive period for Tayport Football Club. I am really positive and ambitious to bring success and silverware back to The Canniepairt. We will be going out to win the league in future years, we will be ambitious and going out to win Trophies. I will be setting out to play an attacking and entertaining style of play. I hope you get behind us, anytime I have been there as either a player or manager, I’ve always felt like the Tayport crowd was a very passionate group of supporters. I’d really like to think that they’d use that to help both myself and the team to be motivated and super enthusiastic about bringing success on the park. I just can’t wait to meet everybody and seeing you guys at the games!
A big thank you to Daryl for taking the time to talk to us and we wish him the very best as manager of the club.