First of all as always let us know a little bit about yourself?
My name is Tony McInally and I am currently manager of Pollok FC, previously of Shotts Bon Accord, Lanark Utd and Cumbernauld Utd. Won 11 major honours as manager, I have UEFA B licence, SFA B Licence plus other certificates/qualifications. Full time director for IT infrastructure reseller company, been in leadership positions in professional life for over 20 years with much correlated areas between business and football. Played professionally for 10 years with St Mirren, Ayr Utd, QoS, Queens Park and Albion Rovers, subsequently played junior for 7 years for Shotts Bon Accord, Benburb and Neilston winning all trophies except Scottish Junior Cup, then played amateur for Heathside and Dalziel HSFP for 3 years winning all trophies at amateur level and also Scottish caps
So how was it you became a coach?
I always loved football – I have been playing and managing for past 40+ years, a football fanatic and every game is different which keeps it real, different teams, players, formations, managers, philosophies, playing style and eras
So to date who would you consider the best players you have worked with?
I’ve been very fortunate to work with many highly talented players at junior level from very talented youngsters to excellent pros at the end of their career. In terms of talented young players, Ive managed and coached Stefan McCluskey, Andy Scott, Mohammad Niang, Stuart McCann when they were teenagers and they all have very impressive skills and attributes. Love developing players to become the best player they can be. Enjoy taking lads in their early 20’s who are open minded about listening and learning and making them much better players – players like Colin Williamson, Gary McCann, Paul Gallacher, Mark Sideserf, Tam Hanlon spring to mind who have developed into great players who have performed at really good levels for a number of years now.
Older professionals like John Boyack, Robbie Winters, Wullie Howie, David Winters, Gary McStay, Ryan McStay and Ryan McCann were a joy to manage and work with too – they helped me develop as a manager as they challenge you to be better, insist upon best standards at training and games which makes you stay sharp as a manager
It pleases me very much that all these players won things playing in my teams, I helped them a little on their football careers and they enjoyed working with me.
In terms of your development as a coach who would you consider your greatest influence?
I would consider myself more of a manager than a coach having done the UEFA coaching courses. Some individual skill sets are on the training ground, others have an eye for players, other teams, work out ways to beat opposition find a way to win games and trophies – I would say my skills are towards the latter areas rather than purely coaching players. I of course enjoy coaching on a weekly basis but I believe I have more skills in the managerial capacity.
In terms of influences, Ive been really fortunate to have worked with many great managers and coaches – as a teenager I played for Ross Mathie and Andy Roxburgh at Scottish Schoolboy level who were very good, Ricky McFarlane at St Mirren, George Burley at Ayr, Hugh McCann at Queens Park, Tommy O’Neill at Rovers. Big coaching influences were George Dickson and Stewart Ralston at Dalziel who gave me my appetite for football back after playing professional for 6 years – their coaching and mind games got me back playing and motivated again.
So of course we all live for player development, what is your philosophy towards that?
I love working with players on a 1-2-1 or 1-2-few basis helping them become better players. I see every player as a jigsaw so I try put all the pieces together – I let them work as free spirits for a while before I approach them to speak about their development – from there I break down their game in terms of strengths and weaknesses. From this point, I try to enhance the strengths and also, work on their weaknesses to make them better players. I tend to identify certain players who are open minded about becoming better and will work every week and month throughout the season to make them better
At present, I’m working very closely with Stuart McCann, Mohammad Niang and Adam Forde at our club to make them better players.
Finally, would there be any sort of advice you could offer any aspiring coaches out there that are just beginning their journey?
Be open minded, keep it simple, learn from good and bad experiences, take advice from experienced coaches and managers. Find yourself a manager or coach you admire and ask for advice and guidance to bounce ideas, philosophies off and always remember never be complacent – the beauty of football is there is always another game to learn and become better.
Do you have any ambitions beyond your current role?
I’ve had the privilege of the opportunity to become a senior manager a few times but my professional career means I have had a fulfilling job that pays well. It is an honour to be manager at a team such as Pollok who treat me very well and give me the freedom to get on with the job. When I finish at Pollok I may only go scout for senior club in terms of opposition scouting or scouting players.
Big thanks to Tony for taking time out from busy family life to answer a few questions for us.