A goalkeeper who has had his game time cut short due to the pandemic.

Fin Collins Q+A

The Coronavirus outbreak has made football change, at all levels. However, below professional level it has been brought to a halt completely. Thus, I decided to talk to Heswall reserves goalkeeper and my good friend Fin Collins about how this period of time has affected him personally as he aims to progress further at a young age.

He first realised that he had some level of talent after joining a soccer school before he moved on to play for a team at Junior level, the passion grew on the primary school playing fields. ‘I’ve been playing since I was around 8 which is when I realised at primary school that it was a fun position to play as well as a challenging position which made me want to work hard to improve. The first time I ever played in goal properly was at a soccer school, where I was told I had some real ability and could make it somewhere if I was to work hard which led to me playing for a local side called JFC Greasby’.

This talent was brought to his attention further when he was told to move to a team full of players of a better standard. ‘I started at Greasby FC when there were 2 teams as the amount of players there was and due to them not knowing my real skill I was put in the B team for the first season and a half but after ended up in the A team which at the time felt like a massive achievement’.

To make it in football you’ve got to be willing to place all your time into the game at a young age, playing for only one team as well as playing on the school fields isn’t enough to get you scouted in most cases. Thus, Fin decided to increase his workload and play for another team. His talent was again noticed as he received many trophies. ‘After the few seasons at JFC greasby, a Sunday team called west Kirby panthers decided to ask me to play on a Sunday as I was already playing on a Saturday meaning I would be playing both days and training twice as much. I took up on the offer and stayed there for 2 seasons winning many awards throughout the way and gaining mass experience at the clubs I was playing for’.

However, football clubs at a junior level run a risk of folding for several different reasons and upon many different circumstances. This brings in many challenges though as young men and women love playing for a team as it improves their mental and physical wellbeing, I noticed that myself after my team folded. This chance was one that Fin relished though as he joined another team who improved him further with players that he knew well. ‘After West Kirby sadly folded, I spent a season at Upton fc which was my only season there and last season for JFC Greasby, at this time with the tight group that had formed throughout the years at greasby we ended up going from greasby under 16s to heswall U18s which was a massive step up for me as well as the players which made me feel great achievement as the club had amazing facilities as well as a great chairman and reserves and first team meaning I’d have a place to go if I was good enough in the years to come’.

Was there a time in which he felt like his hard work paid off? ‘After one season had gone at Heswall I had luckily proved my worth and ended up playing a few games for the first and reserves at the young age of 16 which was a great achievement to me and made me feel like my hard work was paying off as I was also picking up many man of the match awards’. 

Ashville and Cammel Lairds are two Merseyside clubs who play a great part in taking youngsters of great footballing ability in, Fin realised this and played for both teams at reserve level. ‘After the one season at Ashville I ended up leaving and joining cammel lairds U21s which was a very big step up for me as I was only 17 at the time, however this brings us up to the current day and due to the current situations I had only played 2 games up to date’. 

It takes a lot of hard work to get to the level that he’s currently on, it’s also a process which he loves as he loves playing regularly and seeing strikers emotions go from excited to gutted. Being a keeper improves him mentally, making him happy like it does with a lot of others. ‘I love being on the net and it genuinely feels like a happy place to me and I just feel in the zone when I’m there’.

But what is the goal that he is chasing through this work? It’s fun but there’s also a lifelong plan. ‘I have many long term goals, some more realistic than others, my first one has to be the most unrealistic which is to one day play at a low tier professional level in football and some of my others contain playing at a high level of the non professional leagues if it doesn’t work out but I always want to be playing football regardless of levels if I don’t make it’. 

Fin enjoyed playing at great grounds also, this has made him realise how important it is to play on the best of surfaces. ‘The best ground I’ve played on has to be camp nou which I was lucky enough to play on at the age of 14 back in 2016 in a tournament where I also played on the training camp of barcelona. The top 3 have to be camp nou, then Barcelona’s training ground, then prenton park. Finally, I believe that the turf you play on is incredibly important as a goalkeeper as if there are bobbles on the pitch it could affect a save or anything in that matter, a pass back or anything’. 

The lockdowns have brought his time on the pitch to a halt. However, the last game that he played in was one which he helped his team win against good opposition. ‘The last game I played was for Heswall reserves against ashville reserves where we won 2-0. i believe my performance personally was good and I did everything I possibly could to keep the clean sheet’.

The games have been brought to a halt although his ability to work and train hard hasn’t as he puts his body through training sessions away from his team. ‘I have been doing some training over the lockdowns, however it isn’t as much as I believe I should be doing, I’ve been keeping my goalkeeping practise up with doing drills as well as going to the park and training with friends’.

Throughout the hours training though, there has been a sense of annoyance as the games can’t come quick enough. ‘Of course with these breaks throughout the season it has been extremely annoying, however I am more than happy to be starting again extremely soon and getting back to the levels I should be. Obviously it has been difficult not playing or training as it is something I love doing, however it is making me excited to get back to it’.

Going into these games though, there is also another set of emotions as he doesn’t want to put his good work to waste. ‘Obviously with not playing any legitimate games in the past 3 months I will have a slight amount of an anxiety going through my head, however I know what I am doing and what needs to be done so as soon as I am back in my zone of playing I believe I should be back to full skill level in little to no time. I also have a massive amount of excitement to get back to it and just playing games frequently again’. 

Fin’s pre-season games start at the end of this month, the season starting in early June. I’ll be in attendance, at Gayton Park and other local non-league grounds, watching him and Heswall who I have been invited to do some media work for. This is a club which we both have great affection for as they have given us both a great chance of progressing. Thus, to finish our conversation I asked him to give his thoughts on Heswall F.C. ‘The club as a whole is quality, great facilities and great staff and I can’t thank the first team manager,Andy, and the reserve manager, Nathan and of course my current manager and the man who has taught me everything I know Rob Davies. I believe the club will have massive success in the upcoming years also and have loved playing for them since day one’.

Fin, in goal at the Nou Camp during his time playing for Greasby. He is now sponsored by Roman Goalkeeping who provide him with great sets of gloves. On a personal level, I can’t wait to see where his journey takes him.

Thank you very much for reading,

Stay safe,

Ethan Hoijord

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