By Thomas Clark
I missed a trick last week when I forgot to mention Mick McEwan.
Now, anyone whose son or daughter has played football in Hawick in the last 15 years will know Mick. First with Hawick Youth, now with Hearts Ladies, Mick has been devoted to coaching youth football for well over a decade. That’s an amazing feat in itself, that length of service, never mind the success he’s had. He’s won cups and leagues galore, produced Scotland internationals, and brightened the lives of what must be getting on for hundreds of kids.
But he’s also the first to duck away from the limelight. The kind of guy you have to physically drag into team photos. Which is why so many people were delighted to see Mick get the recognition he deserved when he won the SFA’s regional grassroots award for his work in girls’ football.
I had the pleasure of coaching alongside Mick and other great coaches for several years. First with Mick Gillan, Shaun Connelly and Brian Hogg at Hawick Youth, then at the high school, and finally with Jordan Gracie back at the Youth. The personnel was continually changing, but Mick was constant. He never changed, and neither did his attitude, which was always upbeat, no matter how tough the defeats or how challenging the players.
Yes, he’s good for a laugh, is Mick, and every player who’s been coached by him knows it. I’ve never met a coach who was as consistently popular with his players as Mick is. Or one who is able to get on with his players and yet still manage to get the best out of them.
But guys like Mick often go unappreciated, because they make what they’re doing look so easy. On the day of a game, nobody else would know that Mick had been down Wilton Park in the freezing rain at the crack of dawn, loaded with the cold, dragging out metal goalposts by himself. Nobody else would notice, when the Youth were winning cup after cup, how many times Mick had subbed on weaker players, even with the game still in the balance, just because it was the right thing to do.
The work he puts in behind the scenes is incredible, and the grassroots award just confirms something many of us have known for a long time; that men like Mick McEwan are one in a million.
Congratulations, Mick – here’s to another 15 years!