GETTING a coaching session from one of your Burton Albion heroes is surely an opportunity too good to miss.
But that is exactly what ex-Brewers skipper John McGrath – along with popular former Albion defender Nathan Stanton – is offering to youngsters in Burton and South Derbyshire.
McGrath, 33, who is playing in the Conference for Alfreton Town after his summer release at the Pirelli Stadium, has formed Academy-Links to pass on his know-how to youngsters hoping to improve their football skills.
“Academy-Links is run by me and all the coaches will be current or ex-professionals,” said McGrath, who was part of the Albion side which won promotion to the Football League and then got established in League Two.
“We can all be role models and can help children of all ages and abilities, whether they want to try to become a pro, want to just enjoy their football or have a healthier lifestyle.”
As well as Stanton operating as head coach, McGrath is also going to use other former Burton Albion players at times – with Keith Gilroy and Aaron Webster possibly in the frame to do some coaching. Darren Moore is also company ambassador.
“Nathan’s great with kids,” said McGrath. “I’ve known him for a fair few years and he’s been coaching for the academy over at Scunthorpe.
“He’s a different character off the pitch to the one you saw on the pitch!
“Darren is also going to do some sessions when he can – he’s a UEFA A Licence coach and is working up at Blackburn.
“Darren’s a great character and has great experience, having played in the Premier League and Championship.”
Away from the coaching, McGrath has had a good start to life at Alfreton, with the Reds punching well above their weight in the Conference, despite their small budget and gates.
He hopes to continue his playing career for as long as possible, but is ready for life afterwards.
“I’m playing well and would love another three or four years,” said McGrath, who had a play-off swan song for the Brewers last season. “I think I’ve got that at least.
“Academy-Links is something I wanted to set up while playing, as a new career for when I retire from football. My aim is to build it up in the coming years.”
Academy-Links will be at Robert Sutton school, in Stapenhill, on Thursday, October 31. The session runs from 10am to 3pm and costs £20 a place.
There will also be a session at Derby’s Merrill Academy on Wednesday, October 30, also between 10am and 3pm, and at Nottingham’s Big Wood School in Nottingham on October 24.
Anyone interested in getting coached by McGrath, who made 247 appearances and scored 19 goals for Burton, should email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 07519 610652.