Joe Dixon’s

Football Memories

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1977




This was one of my proudest achievements in my football career. Why? Because when I registered for the 12 session course, each of 2 hours, I was told that, because I was going to be away on holiday and miss 4 of the sessions, I couldn't pass the course and it was suggested I leave it for another year. I still thought I could learn from the 8 sessions that I could attend so I decided to join even if I couldn't be successful. Out of the 12-14 that attended the course only 4 passed and one of them was me. A couple who only failed the 'laws of the game', were allowed to resit this exam. The others would have to do the full course again. If it's of interest to you how I managed to pass read on.

I went to the the Southmoor School to register for the course not really knowing anything about the course. It was there that I met
Arthur Philliskirk, the Hon. Sec. of the Durham Coaches Association, who was running the course. When I said I would be away on a 2 week holiday in the middle of the course he suggested I would be wasting my money, as I wouldn't pass because I would miss too many aspects of the practical coaching. He suggested I leave it until next year. I thought for a moment then told him that if it was ok with him I would still like to join the course because I would still learn a bit from the 8 sessions I could attend.

I sat down near the entrance to the registration room to fill in my form. As I was filling in this registration form a fella came in and asked me if he could register for the course. He obviously thought I was one of the organisers. I explained that I was just like him and pointed to Arthur as the man to see. He went off and came back and sat next to me to fill in his form. We had a few friendly words and then after glancing at his form I started to chuckle. I had to explain that I had said earlier that I was just like him when his previous clubs were Sunderland AFC, Scotland under 21's, Preston NE etc and mine were Ryhope CA, Seaham Red Star etc. It was
Jimmy McNab and we both saw the funny side of it.

There was about 12-14 people on the course and as we didn't know any of the others, Jimmy and I tended to stick together throughout the course and got to know each other quite well. I must admit I was quite chuffed about this.


When I came back from holiday I was asked if I wanted to attend a 'Residential Refresher Weekend for Coaches' at Houghall College, Durham that weekend. This course was run mainly for qualified coaches, by Durham Coaches Association, but they thought it would benefit our course members. About 3 members from the course, including Jimmy McNab had already accepted the offer so I said yes despite it being at very short notice.

The format of the weekend is shown below.





















































The course was really enjoyable. In addition to Jimmy McNab there were other well known people including George Wardle the Middlesbrough FC first team coach, Jimmy Shoulder the Australian National Coach and David Armstrong the ex Middlesbrough, Southampton and England International.

On the Saturday afternoon Arthur Philliskirk asked the course members whether anyone would like to volunteer to do a coaching session on the Sunday afternoon and if so would they let him know by the Saturday night. No one initially volunteered so I started to think of giving it a go myself. I had ideas in my mind about the benefits of short corner kicks, if done in the right way, so I decided that this is what I'd coach if no one else volunteered. No one did. So I did. It certainly surprised the organisers as the majority of the course had there preliminary/full FA coaching badges.

I didn't sleep a wink that night but by morning I knew exactly how I should go about the afternoon session. It was a great help to know I would have David Armstrong to rely on for not messing up the corners.

The session went better than I'd dare hope for and a lot of nice things were said to me by other course members. At tea, which immediately followed my session, I was asked to join the organisers at their table. I received some very nice complements and after they enquired about my football background, and realised I'd never coached before, George Wardle told me 'Joe set your sights high and I mean high - you'll do well'. I wish I had done but deep down, at 34, I still wanted to play football.

When I went to the next coaching session I was told by Arthur Philliskirk that it had been decided that my voluntary coaching on the weekend refresher course would be taken into consideration as part of my preliminary badge practical work. I was over the moon. I completed the course ('Practical Performance'), took the 'Practical Coaching' test (coaching school children), the 'Theory of Coaching' exam and the 'Laws of the Game' exam.

On 14 August 1979 I received some great news, from Ted Croker, the FA Secretary, to say that I had passed all categories. Enclosed, was also my coaching certificate and lapel badge. What a great feeling that was.

I met up with Jimmy McNab again at a meeting of the Durham Coaches Association, which we both had joined, and he surprised me by telling me he was one of the two who had failed the 'Laws of the Game' test and had to resit them. He thought it was funny now but not at the time. He obviously passed the re-sit without any problems.
































F.A. Coaching Badge