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2011/12 Season News

Interview: Dougie Anderson


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Interview: Dougie Anderson

PostedApril 26, 2012

Colin Cameron and Lee Makel are the masterminds behind the Blue Brazil’s Second Division title win - only Cowdenbeath Football Club’s second title success in the post war era - but the triumph was achieved with help from a friend of Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho.

Superior fitness levels and and detailed match preparation have been a key part of the success story and Cameron has made good use of Dougie Anderson’s expertise in these areas after making the addition of the first team coach to his backroom team one of his first acts as manager. Together, the trio have revolutionised the fitness programme and match analysis at Central Park this season. However,Dougie’s part came about by chance and the former SFA development officer has made the most of the opportunity to work in senior football in a coaching capacity for the first time.

“I had known Lee [Makel] for a while from my previous post as the SFA Senior Football Development Officer in the Borders.” said Anderson.

The former Sunderland scout continued: “I went to meet Lee, after he and the Gaffer [Colin Cameron] had been appointed as the new management team, to have a coffee and general chat with regard pre-season training programmes. Lee ended up inviting me to come along to one of the first sessions where I met the Gaffer for the first time. I was asked to help out in a further couple of sessions and it snowballed from there.”

Dougie had built up an impressive reputation as a coach in the Scottish Borders and was able to bring his expertise on fitness programmes and match analysis to assist Cameron and Makel.

“I’m not a sports scientist but I have a keen interest in this area and have studied methods at some of the top clubs in Europe. I also worked with Donald Park, Head of Coach Education at the Scottish FA, and Brian Ewing, University of Dundee, to develop pre-season fitness programmes for the Scottish Fotball Association.”

Dougie continued: “My philosophy is that you should use all the latest techniques available to give you an edge in terms of fitness but that training methods should always combine fitness with the technical side of the game. The Gaffer and Lee share this philosophy and the players bought into it straight away.

“We introduced a mixture of fitness routines that involved the ball in every session. You can cover just as much ground as traditional methods but the players get to do what they enjoy at the same time - play football.”

The coaching team also made use of heart rate monitors, bleep test, high intensity drills and monitored each player throughout pre-season. The players continued to be tested throughout the season as the team’s fitness levels played a key part in the title success.

The 47-year old said: “We tested the players fitness levels at the start and end of pre-season. We also re-tested the players in January andtheir heart rate and recoveryhad improved dramatically over the course of the season. It is important to avoid over training at the back end of the season so we often introduced shorter sessions or took the lads away from the training environment all together. For instance, the Gaffer decided to take the team go karting one midweek and the players certainly responded to that.

“Technology is very important but judgement and psychology also play key roles. I feel we helped convince the players that they were the fittest team in the league - which in my opinion is true - and our superior fitness levels were often evident at the end of games.

“The Gaffer and Lee design all the coaching sessions and every training session has a purpose. I give my opinion when required.”

The heavy pre-season programme certainly paid dividends as the team got off to a flyer defeating three SPL sides in friendlies and starting the new campaign looking fit and sharp.Dougie has been hugely impressed by the attitude and fitness levels of the players ever since his first session back in June 2011.

“The players have been absolutely fantastic. Their attitude to hard work is magnificent and their personal fitness levels are great - you can see that they really look after themselves away from the club. We always ask for their feedback with regard how they feel at training and they have really bought into what the Gaffer is trying to achieve.”

Colin Cameron has played the game at the very highest level and has used all his experience in the game to ensure that every game is planned to the last detail. His eye for detail is second to none and the former Scotland internationalist has made good use of Anderson’s expertise in match analysis.

“We film all the home games. I tag the footage using Focus software so that the Gaffer and Lee can go over aspects of games with the players as and when required - such as improving the play in the final third,” said Dougie.

“For example, in the build up to the home game against Dumbarton in March, we thought the team had been a bit flat in the previous two games. We played some of our best football of the season in the first 30 minutes against Albion Rovers in midweek back in February. The pressing and tempo was fantastic in that game and the Gaffer used analysis from this match to get the point home. The players were electric in the next training session and took that into the Dumbarton game which we won 4-1.”

The team had also been struggling in front of goal for a few weeks prior the the Dumbarton game so Dougie asked Ross Cunningham (Blue Brazil TV) to put together a DVD of goals from earlier in the season.

“Ross really came up with the goods and we used the DVD pre-match for motivational purposes with the collage of goals complimented by up beat music. The players were deadly in the final third with four goals the result.”

Cameron and his coaching team have not just used match analysis for team exercises but also to work with individual players.

“The Gaffer and Lee worked with Marc McKenzie, for example, on his composure and finishing in the final third. He has been electric since October and hopefully some of the work we have done has helped his game,” commented the Galashiels-born coach.

Dougie has had to work hard to make his way in the senior game due to his lack of a cv as a high level footballer, but had steadily built up an impressive reputation as a coach in the Borders including a spell as manager of Stow Amateurs and his hometown team Gala Fairydean. But it was really at grass roots level that he flourished where he set up the Borders Soccer Academy in 1999 and was instrumental in developing youth football in the area over a 10-year period.

“I was interested in the coaching side of the game from an early age, partly due to not having the tools as a player to play at a higher level,” said Dougie.

“I sacrificed a holiday in my mid twenties to take my SFA ‘C’ Certificate under Frank Coulston and then progressed to the UEFA ‘B’ licence under Tommy Craig. I then passed the UEFA ‘A’ licence in 2007 and was lucky enough to study alongside people like Alan Shearer, Steven Pressley, Malky Mackay and former Cowden management duo Danny Lennon and Iain Jenkins.”

The highly-qualified coach was also one of the first people to achieve the SFA Youth Licence in 2000, alongside Terry Butcher and Duncan Shearer, and was one of only a dozen or so to pass out of 80+ participants.

“I think you definitely improve as a coach with experience. I thought I knew it all in my younger days but I have learned so much since then.My view is that you should never stop learning and always have an open mind to introduce new methods. If they don’t work move on and try something else.

“I am a keen student of the game and have spent time at top European clubs such as Inter Milan and Real Madrid, English clubs Liverpool and Chelsea learning from some of the best coaches in world football.”

It was during a visit to the Chelsea training complex as part of his UEFA ‘A’ licence that Dougie first encountered Jose Mourinho and formed a friendship that lasts to this day.

Dougie explained: “I wrote to Jose asking if I could attend a training session as part of my studies. He kindly invited me down for a day in 2005 and then asked me to come back again for another three day session. It was the year that Chelsea won the league and I was able to watch him shape and organise his team for a game against Fulham.

“We have kept in touch ever since and Jose personally invited me to the Champions League Final when his Inter Milan team defeated Bayern Munich. Jose has been an inspiration. Like me he never played football at a particularly high level but he has more than proved his genius as a coach.”

Thanks to the friendship one of Europe’s top coaches has kept a keen eye on the results of the Blue Brazil this season from his Madrid base.

“We were most recently in touch when he emailed to wish Cowdenbeath luck for the crucial game against Arbroath earlier this month! Cowdenbeath and Real Madrid may be worlds apart when it comes to finances and facilities but the football means just as much to our coaching team, players and fans as it does to those in Madrid.”

Dougie’s first season at Central Park has ended with the ultimate prize - the Irn-Bru Second Division title.

Dougie beamed: “Winning the league was an amazing experience and a day I will never forget. The Gaffer, Lee and the players deserve all the credit for what has been achieved this season, but hopefully I have played a small part alongside the other coaches and the volunteers who run the club.

“We have a very professional set-up and it is our philosophy to keep on improving. I feel very privileged to have been part of a season that will go down in Cowdebeath folklore and now the hard work begins plotting for next season in the First Division.”

Interview by: Neil Ferguson

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