DARIN KILLPARTRICK says the most rewarding part of his job as a coach is seeing young players work hard and make progress in football.
The Bognor stalwart has been looking back on a decade on the management team at Nyewood Lane, as reported last week.
We asked him to pick out the best players he had coached and played with in his Bognor years and he immediately pinpointed Michael Birmingham, who was a popular midfielder with Bognor before going on to manage them.
“He had technical and physical abilities on the pitch I’ve not seen in any other non-league player,” says Killpartrick.
“In my playing days at Bognor I had Dean Wilkins in front of me – that was brilliant; I just had to give the ball to him as often as I could. And Paul and Mick Pullen taught me so much about football and Bognor.
“Going back to coaching, Jason Prior is a great striker but from a coach’s point of view, he is also so good at listening and digesting what you teach him, then putting it into practice.
“Of the present team, I’ve seen James Crane and Dan Sackman develop from when they were 16-year-olds with me at Chi College. Mickey Demetriou’s another who came through the college and Bognor and is now playing League Two football with Shrewsbury. They’re all lads willing to work very hard to improve as players and that gives me great pride.
“Every player is different and you have to try to get the best out of them in different ways. What you want is a player who has the talent and the right attitude. Not all the players you encounter have that, I can promise you!”
Killpartrick has an impressive coaching CV – he has his UEFA A licence, following on from his preliminary and B licences. He has levels one to five in psychology in football, which is all about understanding how players learn and think about their game.
He is a coach educator for the FA at level one and two and is training to be a coach educator at B-licence level . He has also coached the England Colleges’ under-17 and under-19 sides.
Killpartrick is also quick to praise the support he has always had from fans. “They’ve always been good to me and are a very supportive fan-base, I’d say. Of course they go through good times and bad times like everyone at the club but I’d say they are generally very fair and understanding about what we’re trying to do.”
And he stresses how he is desperately missing one of his big mentors, Dennis Probee, a stalwart of the club and of Sussex football who died last May. “It was an honour to be mentored by Dennis and I miss him terribly, as a friend and as someone with an incredible football brain who was invaluable to me as an extra pair of eyes watching games.”
And so to the big question – will Dabba be at the Rocks for another ten years?
“I don’t know about that,” he laughs. “You never know what’s around the corner. I just want to keep on progressing – I love learning.”