Matthew Tipton has signed up to write a weekly column offering his views on football.
Now in his first season of management at Warrenpoint Town, Tipton’s professional playing career started with Oldham Athletic as a 17-year-old striker and included caps for Wales under 21s alongside appearances for clubs in England, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
“This week I’m going to take you through my day as we prepared for and played the Tennent’s Irish Cup fifth-round tie at home to Ballinamallard United.
05:45: Early start this week due to a combination of being excited and nervous for the game as well as the fact I had to drop my eldest son, George, off at his football manager’s house for a 07:20 start for a game away at Enniskillen.
06:00: I decided that the extra half-hour sleep that I could grab was no benefit so I got up, made myself a cup of tea and looked over my notes. After making certain I was clear in everything that I had prepared, I got out the flip chart paper to write up the set-pieces and some key points that I felt the players would need visual clarity on.
07:10: A couple of slices of toast for breakfast before dropping George off for his lift.
07:45: Home for another cup of green tea then I take Max, our black Labrador, for a five-mile walk. I take him every day for a good long walk and find it really helps me to clear my mind whilst also helping to keep the pounds off the waistline!
09:45: Home with the morning newspapers and time to relax knowing that all the preparations for the game have been done. This week’s build-up was probably the hardest in terms of team selection I have had since becoming manager but after deliberating over different line-ups I made my mind up on Friday night and when I woke up I was clear that the squad selected was the one that could get us a result.
10:30: Time for my pre-match meal of scrambled egg, beans and toast - a Saturday morning favourite for nearly 20 years. I have tried to vary it over the years but I always come back to it.
11:00: Shower and shave.
11:25: Time to get my suit on. When I took over as manager I made a conscious decision to wear a suit as I wanted to separate the role from the coaching role I had at the club. I’ve had numerous people say to me that I would be more suited to wearing a tracksuit but I’m comfortable in the suit and, apart from the first game when we lost to Ballymena United, we have been unbeaten so, superstitious creature that I am, the suit is here to stay.
11:50: Set off on the hour drive to Warrenpoint. I break the journey up by meeting Chris Wright (coach) at the Banbridge outlet. That leaves us 25 minutes’ drive to the ground where we chat about team selection and also potential transfer targets going forward.
12:50: Arrive at the ground and go to chat with a few people who are there early. Watch five minutes of the Real Madrid game with a cup of tea before going to my office for five minutes of peace as it’s probably going to be the last chance before the game ends.
1:15: The players start to arrive and sit in the lounge having a cup of tea. I like them to have that 15 or 20 minutes together before I get them in to name the team. I have a chat with a couple of lads who won’t be in the squad today as I feel that telling them before I name the squad in front of their peers is a better way to deal with it than them being totally shocked or upset in the dressing room.
13:30: I name the team and then leave the dressing room to let the players listen to their music (which is brutal). I go outside and grab a chat with my old team-mate Shane McCabe, who is still clinging on to his youthful looks despite touching 35. I’m sure there are a few bottles of Just For Men in his shopping trolley!
13:45: Time to fill in and hand over the official team sheets. I think I’ve done more handwriting in the last six weeks as manager than in the previous 20 since I left school!
14:00: Now is the time for my work. I let the players have free reign between 13:30 and 14:00 but I expect their full attention when I come back in. I run through the Ballinamallard line-up and then touch on the strengths and weaknesses we had worked on with the players at training on Thursday. I then enforce the way I want them to play when the game starts and, at 14:10, the players are ready to go out and warm up with Stevie (McDonnell) and Chrissy.
14:20: I go and see Connaire McGreavy (who doubles up as director and website editor) to get him to do some photos with myself and the three new signings I’ve made in the January transfer window.
14:25: Sinead (who does the hospitality at the club) brings me a cup of tea as I observe our warm-up. I’m pleased with the tempo of the possession game which I feel always gives a reflection on how the game will go.
14:40 The players start to come back into the dressing room. I give them until 10 minutes ahead of kick-off before I expect complete silence for me to deliver my last few words. I’m not really a Braveheart type of speaker before games. Today I just reinforce the key points that I feel will win us the game and try to fill them with positivity.
15-17:40: The match!
17:45: The game finished with us winning on penalties after dominating but just not finishing off the numerous chances that we created. We listen to the draw on Radio Ulster and we get Crewe United from the Mid-Ulster Football League. I’m just delighted to get another home draw as well as it being against a lower-ranked team.
18:00: I go to the bar to grab a quick beer but am not feeling great so don’t hang around too long. I think I’m emotionally drained after the game - this is something I have found happens now I’m the manager. The difference as a player is the euphoria of winning lasts a lot longer but as manager my mind is quickly thinking about the next game, training schedules for the week ahead and players that need extra work or gametime.
19:15: Home with a Chinese takeaway and have a quick chat with my wife Becci before she heads off to work. I then get the iPad out and watch highlights from the rest of the day’s games plus respond to the dozens of messages I’ve had during the day.
21:00: Bed time! Early to bed this week as it’s been a heavy few weeks with the Christmas period so I need my beauty sleep.”