Success Down Under for ‘Hebridean Mourinho’

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Scots, and especially Hebrideans, have long travelled the globe exporting the best of their culture.

Famously Britain gave football to the world, who then proceeded to outdo us at it, and one of the more recent converts to the beautiful game is New Zealand.

This fanatical hotbed of rugby now has more youngsters playing football than the oval ball game, a love embraced by Uist teacher Matthew Reid, who moved down under in January and has already achieved footballing glory.

Reid began teaching at Auckland Girls Grammar soon after arriving, and, as with his previous role at Sgoil Lionacleit, was determined to combine his educational role with coaching.

Taking charge of the First XI, he was impressed with the standard of players available to him, and used his SFA qualifications and encyclopaedic knowledge of the game to get the best out of his new charges.

AGGS made a shaky start to the 2011 league season, drawing their first two games, but when they hit form they were unstoppable.

They won every game after that early stumble, finishing top of Auckland Premier Division 2. However, the Kiwi format meant that merely topping their league would not guarantee them title; they had to enter the play-offs. After narrow quarter and semi-final wins, they faced Western Springs in the championship final. A nervy first-half saw AGGS 2-1 down at the break, but just when it seemed dreams might be slipping away, three second-half goals gave them the title – a first ever football trophy for both school and coach.

The man himself is, to use the old cliché, over the moon: “Football is growing all the time here and it’s great to be part of it,” he said.

“We’ve been the best team all season, remaining unbeaten, so to be able to call ourselves champions gives me an incredible buzz.” So what’s the secret of his success? “It’s often mooted that mediocre footballers make the best coaches. Well, I’m an incredibly mediocre footballer,” Matthew replies.

He may be as far away from home as it’s possible to be - without going into space that it – but the Grimsay Guardiola has quickly adapted to advancing his sport.

“If you look at the Premiership, most of the coaches are either Scottish or foreign. Here, I’m both,” he laughed. Now, if the Kiwis can only stop calling it soccer, his work will be done.

Matthew is pictured with his Auckland team.