A thank you to our football coach

I don’t really know where to start, because I don’t think there is a good place to begin. Nothing can do what has happened justice, and the shock and sadness everyone will be enduring at the moment cannot be put into words. Mike Boyd’s recent passing is a prime example of just how cruel the world can be.

Me and a good number of the boys I’m friends with got to know Mike during the time we played with Strathaven Dynamos 1999s. We, at a guess, started playing football at the age of seven, and Mike was one of our founding coaches. While a number came and went during our time as a team, he was there until the end.

Obviously, I don’t remember much of the early years. What I do know is that Mike struck up a friendship with my dad, Billy, that transcended their mutual pain of trying to coach us into semi-decent footballers. They were brilliant pals, just as Mike was with plenty of others.

As the years progress, the memories get clearer. It’s only now, at this age, that me and the boys can truly appreciate how much effort our coaches put in to provide us with some of the fondest memories we’ll ever have. They were up at the crack of dawn every Saturday or Sunday morning, no doubt rubbing their eyes as they put the nets in place for us to play. Mike played a big part in that for us.

There were tournaments that took up full weekends. I can only imagine their frustrations as they watched us run about like idiots after taking an 8-0 trouncing. Me and my dad always laugh about Mike’s coincidental disappearances after those defeats, and how he would stroll back to jokefully claim credit whenever we managed to win.

They took us on trips far and wide; the journeys to Scarborough and Preston stand out in particular. In what was one of my last games before leaving Dynamos in 2014, we had reached the final at the Preston Youth Cup. We may have lost to a very good Hamilton Accies side, but that was hopefully some sort of reward for all the hard work Mike and our fellow coaches had put in over the years.

I think this is Mike coaching us at a training camp in Largs.

Mike was always prankster, a joker. He would interrupt our set-piece training to teach us how to stand on the opposition’s toes at corner kicks. He would make us laugh whenever he tried to demonstrate a drill. From what I’ve been told, he was a bit of a no-nonsense centre-half back in the day. We could tell.

I remember him telling us to eat jelly beans after training for a sugar boost, and us all sprinting to the vending machine afterwards. We’d probably never moved as fast.

I remember a few of us sitting with him while he bragged to us about his accomplishments on Football Manager. He’d won the Champions League with Celtic and was laughing at us for not being able to do the same with the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid. He told us he’d been given an in-game knighthood – whether that was true or not, I never found out.

Mike, as anyone who knew him will know, was an extremely keen golfer. We all used to have a good laugh at his infamous shouts of ‘OHHH NOOOO’ after a dodgy tee shot. Luckily, there weren’t too many of these the last time I played with him; Mike, my dad, my friend David and I played in a fourball competition in early January 2018 and managed to win. Of course, that was helped by myself and David having ridiculously bad handicaps for our ages at the time. Still, that was a great day.

I hadn’t seen Mike much since then. Those closest to him will be hurting much more than I can even imagine, but I thought it would be nice to look back at some of the great memories he helped us make. Anne, Sean and Emily; I’m sure I speak for the rest of the 99s boys when I say we’re all thinking of you.

We had some great times with him, and I hope he enjoyed them as much as we did. If anything, I hope this look back can provide even a little joy in the most tragic of times.

Mike, you taught us a lot. You were witty, funny, and a great friend to so many. When we look back on our time as young footballers at Strathaven Dynamos, we’ll always think of you. Thank you.

Rest easy, big man. I hope you’ve found a striker’s toes to trod on up there.

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