Lewis Boardman interview.
As West Kirby F.C have undergone a relative transformation under the managerial reign of Nathan Brooks, new signing Lewis Boardman spoke of his footballing career so far and why he believed the decision to move clubs was the right decision.
Hi Lewis, to start our conversation off, could you tell us a little bit about your career so far? How did your love for football start, what are some of the best games that you’ve been to and if you could offer some pieces of advice for those that want to stay in the game past their childhood .. What advice would you offer?
Hello Ethan, thanks for having me.
Football started at an early age for me, I think I was about 6 or 7. I’ve been in love with the game since the first time I kicked a ball. You tend to forget about all your worries and issues in life for 90 minutes, and it’s a real stress relief – win, lose or draw! Throughout my playing career so far, I’ve been fortunate to play for some very good local sides. I first started at Poulton Vics, then moved to Victoria Colts as an 11 year old. Football became a lot more serious for me then as we were always big rivals with Vauxhall’s.. it was always between the two teams for the league. Sadly Colts folded after a 5 year spell there due to unknown reasons but I had quickly signed for our close rivals Vauxhall’s where I probably strived most.
We had a brilliant couple of seasons together and won numerous trophies as a team. I really enjoyed my time there. We had not only a brilliant manager, but a brilliant person in Paul Reid who was in charge at the time and he was spot on. Really understood us as players and had a lot of time for us as people which is important at that age. He’s a manager I’ve got a lot of time, respect and admiration for!
After two years at Vauxhall, Chester had approached me and offered me 2 years as a youth player with the potential of going into the first team and I can safely say that, during my time, I played with some of the best players at my age around this area. We had such a close knit group of players and I can safely say it was a proper team! We won the treble the second year and during the second year, I was fortunate enough to play for the first team. I made my appearance in the Cheshire cup, and came in the 70th minute – it was a real achievement in my eyes and a proud moment for me and my family. Even though I didn’t manage to push into the first team after that, it was an unbelievable experience for me and one I can now say I’ve done. My second year at Chester, Cal McIntyre was our manager and he was a brilliant coach. Looking back now, it was a shame how it ended, as in my eyes, we never really saw eye to eye I don’t think. I don’t think he took to me well to be honest but you learn to take it on the chin. In all fairness, he progressed me as a player and stood me in good stead for the rest of my playing days so I thank him for that.
After leaving Chester, it was a little bit hard for me. I was hopping between clubs at various levels and finding my feet again. I eventually went to West Kirby for 2/3 years where it was probably the most challenging of periods for the club as they were constantly facing relegation battles from West Cheshire 1. After West Kirby I followed the management team to Heswall for a season. A club I’ve got a lot of time for as well as the people who are involved. Especially Robbie Mathews. The work he does behind the scenes is ridiculous. He was like one big dad to the lads and I think we appreciated that. He had our best interests at heart. We were unlucky in our first year as we’d just missed out on promotion and we lost a cup final on a penalty shootout. Things didn’t really work out the last 6 months of being at Heswall and I felt it was the right time to leave. Again, I have great memories even after a short spell and the club is one that’s going in the right direction.
I’ve been to numerous games that will forever live in the memory but the two that I’ll remember are the first game I went to which was also why I fell in love with the game. It was Liverpool V Chelsea and Michael Owen scored the winner in front of the kop. I couldn’t see much as I was only small but, I remember sitting with my dad and just taking everything in. It was surreal. My other favourite game would have to be the trip to Wembley with Tranmere. The one where we beat Boreham Wood with 10 men. What a day that was!!
If I had to offer any advice to those younger than me now, it would be, enjoy it. Enjoy every moment. Football really does move fast, and in the blink of an eye, you’ll be looking back wishing you played for longer. Even if you’re not playing at the top level, football is about enjoyment – Playing with your mates. Yes, we might lose games sometimes but the main thing is, you enjoy it.
You signed for West Kirby F.C recently, what were the reasons behind your move and how would you describe the quality of the team in comparison to the teams that you’ve played in before?
Yes. Look, West Kirby is a massive club. A well established club too. They’ve been around for years and it’s an exciting time for them at the minute. They’ve had a tough few years sadly but, at the minute, there seems to be a real buzz around the club and the appointment of Nathan seems to have given the people involved, and the players a real lift. Although the table doesn’t reflect it, they’re much better than the bottom half of West Cheshire Division 2. They should be in the top half of Division 1, as a minimum and it’s up to us now to get back to that level. They’re big factors for me and my reasons for joining the club as well as the manager. I’m excited for the challenge ahead.
Touching on the squad compared to others, I think there’s a real togetherness about this one. We know there’s going to be highs and lows so it’s important that we’re together as one through them. In terms of quality, on paper it’s a very strong squad but it’s all good and well saying that, it counts for nothing if you don’t perform and win games.
Nathan Brooks is the manager of the club and you’ve said that you’ve played for him before. How long have you known of him in football and how influential of a reason was he behind your move to West Kirby?
Yeah, Nathan is the main reason as to why I’ve come back to West Kirby. He’s a manager, and a person that I’ve got a lot of time and admiration for. We’ve known each other for a number of years now and our relationship has only got stronger as the years have passed by. I first met Nathan when he came in as an assistant manager during my first spell at West Kirby, and he was always picking at the fine details on how we could improve then so I knew he was always going to be a good manager when the time came for him. Nathan does an unbelievable amount behind the scenes. He is someone who wants to win. He’s someone who wants the best for everyone, especially the club he represents. He was a big influence on me coming back to the club as I think he’s going to be the right man to take West Kirby forward. He wants stability, and he wants to put his stamp on things. He’s been in the game long enough now to know that it will take time but he also knows how big a job he has on his hands. I’m delighted he was in touch with me to follow him from Heswall to West Kirby. It always makes you happy knowing a manager thinks of you the way he does and wants you to be part of the rebuild at a club. We know each other well, and he knows me as a player so it makes it easier fitting in to one of his sides again. He expects the best from everyone so I’m sure he will get everyone on the same page and make sure they know what needs to be done to start picking up results. As I said earlier, I’m excited to get back out there and face the challenges as a player in his team.
What would you say are the aims for this season, your personal ambitions combined with the ambitions you’ve got for the team and what are your current feelings about getting started and being a part of it all?
First and foremost, the main ambition in my eyes, this season is to consolidate a position in division 2 ahead of next season. As a club, as a team, we don’t want to go down but it’s down to us. We know it won’t be easy but we have to treat every game as a cup final and focus on one game at a time. We can’t look behind us and we can’t look too far ahead of us. We have to use the next couple of games for now as building blocks and learning curves but we also need to make sure that we’re looking at picking up points through this initial period. We know what we need to achieve as a team, and that comes from the manager. He sets out a points per game target over a handful of matches and then we look at where we have to improve or what we did well.
Next season, all being well, we will be competing in division 2 and without looking too far ahead, we want to be competing at the top end of the table. I haven’t come back to West Kirby for the sake of it. I’ve come back to compete and win things.
As an individual, my ambitions are just to help the team win games and lead the younger lads through the games. I’ve played enough games in the past to know what it takes to win games of football and see games through but, it needs to happen all over the pitch. I want to help improve those around me and make sure they know their roles on the pitch. It’s down to myself and the other senior lads to make sure we’re all meeting the expectations of Nathan and the club.
Touching on getting started, again I can’t wait for it. I look forward to being part of the rebuild and doing what we can in putting West Kirby back on the map. The club needs to be back in the top league and needs to get back to having a good reputation. I think it lost its ways a little bit over the last few years unfortunately but it’s going to be a really exciting few months all being well!
Focusing on your life away from football, what is your job and what does that mean in terms of your availability for playing? Does playing give you something to look forward to outside of work?
I work on the railway and have done so for almost 4 years now. Due to the shift patterns it affects my availability for football every week but Nathan understands this and knows my situation. It makes things easier for me having a manager who doesn’t hold a working life away from football that can affect availability. I enjoy my job. Yes, it means I don’t play football every week but that’s a sacrifice I have to make. Especially being a family man and having a little one at home, a source of income is my priority these days. I absolutely love my football and it’s a release for me at times but the main thing is, I always look forward to playing and competing for 90 minutes. The opportunity to play for West Kirby and help the club compete at the top excites me and even though I’m not able to play every week, I do things behind the scenes to try and help the lads succeed!