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Monday interview: Cherries coach Simon Weatherstone had his path mapped out early
HANDS up. How many of us really knew what we wanted to be when we grew up?
There are the childhood pipe dreams – astronaut, fireman, professional footballer, of course – but deciding exactly what we’re meant to do with our lives can leave us scratching our heads way beyond the end of education.
Cherries first-team coach Simon Weatherstone had no such problems.
Having immersed himself in the theories of the beautiful game from an early age, the UEFA A licence coach did not suffer from the syndrome which prevents professionals from hanging up their boots.
Brought up near Henley-on-Thames, his progression from player to coach began before his journey into the full-time game flourished as he took to the training field with Malcolm Elias – a respected talent spotter who lists Southampton, Liverpool and Fulham on his CV.
“Malcolm lived in the village next to mine and took me to Oxford United so, in the summer holidays, I used to go and help him with the soccer schools.
“I was only about 12 or 13 but that was where my passion for coaching really began and it just carried on throughout my career.
“As a player, I was always a thinker and constantly tried to help my team-mates with their technique.
“I have stayed in touch with Malcolm ever since and he has played a big part in my development, as a player and as a coach. I have been fortunate enough to have some fantastic people guiding me.”
After coming through the ranks at the Us, Weatherstone became the cornerstone of Boston United’s promotion to the Football League in 2002 and won the Conference player of season award in the process.
Successful spells at Yeovil Town and Stevenage followed before linking up with Cherries assistant manager Jason Tindall, then manager of Weymouth.
In addition to his role as Terras captain, the midfielder was also charged with developing the Dorset club’s under-18s at the relatively tender age of 26.
The next three years were spent at Crawley Town and Eastbourne Borough before an offer to join Eddie Howe and Tindall at Burnley convinced Weatherstone to call time on his playing career in the summer of 2011 – despite only being 31.
“That was it for me,” he continued. “I had a few offers on the table, including a comeback in the Football League, but I decided against it.
“Because I had looked after myself, a lot of people said I had a good five years left in me but I always knew it was my time. I never wanted to drag out my football career for the sake of it.
“It was a fantastic opportunity to go up to Burnley and I bit their hand off. It was a no-brainer and I haven’t looked back since.”
His role as senior scout soon developed with promotion to manager of the Clarets under-21 set up before Cherries came knocking in January when predecessor Chris Hargreaves moved into management at Torquay United.
It marks a swift rise through the ranks of Championship football for the 34-year-old who, much like the manager Howe, finds it hard to stop his mind running through every moment of practice.
“Mass improvement comes from long-term thinking – if the season is 46 weeks long and you can improve just one per cent each week then that’s significant progress year-on-year.
“Your mind never switches off because you might put on a drill and all of a sudden, you’re back home having dinner and think ‘I could add that in, we should have done it that way.’
“A set-piece might pop into your head or you might see something on telly. As silly as it sounds, watching games on the TV is still part of your development.
“You might see a set-piece you really like that you could tweak to make it fit what you do. I think every coach in the world does that.
“It’s a good thing the girlfriend loves football. She is a die-hard Man United fan and I am the calm one to be honest.
“She is the one shouting at the TV, particularly with United not having the best of seasons, and I find myself calming her down.
“I don’t speak to my her about football drills but she can tell when I am sat there thinking away.
“I speak about development a lot, but for me, you never stop learning as a player and it is the same when you move into coaching.
“The day you stand still is the day you risk reaching the end.”
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