A Catch Up With: Kevin Nicholson

“I know 100% that what I had at TUFC would have stayed up in the National League. No question”.


Hi Kevin, so…youth coaching, newspaper article writing, fitness training and tyre flipping with James Murphy for charity are all admirable projects, but how good was it to get back into football properly at Mousehole last year?!

Obviously taking Murphy on at a charity tyre flipping “contest” was a lifelong dream accomplished for me but it was for a great cause and all in good fun. I enjoyed the stuff I did with the non-league paper and hope to keep that up, it was therapeutic and good experience to write about my management and playing years and the lessons I’ve learned.

Fitness is a big part of my life from its physical and mental benefits on a personal level to being able to pass my knowledge on and those benefits to others. I had some tough times away from the game and the discipline and hard work that exercise encourages kept me calm and collected through the harder times. Coaching kids was also something I really enjoyed and gave me a different perspective as well as plenty of lessons and rewarding moments.

Getting back to work at Mousehole has been fantastic though, I missed the day-to-day coaching, management and work that goes with running a football club and the goal of winning football matches when it really matters. I now get the best of all areas as both player, manager, coach and developing an academy so the perfect job really.

Your decision to take the job raised a few eyebrows considering the level Mousehole are currently at, what attracted you to the job and was it a difficult decision to make?

Mousehole is a fantastic little football club. We have a mixture of full-time and part-time players and the full-time players are there for the opportunity and not any kind of financial gain. Every player gets the same small expense package but we look to build them up and push them on higher up the pyramid and we’ve had good success in that area so far meaning more lads are wanting to join us for the chance to restart their careers.

This means I get to really work them hard daily, sometimes they’ll do up to 7/8 sessions per week and I fulfil my passion of developing and helping players. We also have the part-time guys who are hard-working men who train twice a week but know that the training will be intense and that I have only dropped to this level to treat it as a profession and so I expect those same standards from them. They’ve taken it on brilliantly and we all have the same objective which is to win trophies and push Mousehole up through the leagues.

Are you happy with how the team has progressed since you took over, and are you optimistic for a successful second half of 2018-19?

Yes, I’ve been at it now for coming up to 3 months and I think they now have started to understand what I want and trust that I’m genuine and have their best footballing interests at heart. This is a project on lots of different levels but winning and winning whilst playing to our footballing philosophy is number 1 priority and we are making good progression in a competitive league.

We are in one of the cups and are fighting hard in the league with games in hand, but I’m very much of the “next game is the only one that matters” mindset and working hard to get the players to see it that way too.

What are the future plans for the direction of the club and how much potential do you see at Mousehole going forward?

I wouldn’t have stepped so low down the pyramid if I didn’t see huge potential for the club and the academy. The first team is looking to emulate the success of Truro and climb the leagues as quickly as we can.

I have proven myself as a “firefighter” with TUFC when keeping us up in ridiculous circumstances so people know I can deal with no money, resources or, at some times, support. But what I haven’t been able to prove yet is how I can build a team and have success at the right end of the table.

I have all the support I need here from lots of really genuinely good people, the chance to build something special with them and fill in the gaps on my CV as a trophy winner and an academy builder so it ticks all boxes.

Kevin on Mousehole AFC – “I have all the support I need here from lots of really genuinely good people”

What are the main things you learnt from managing TUFC that have stood you in good stead at Mousehole and what are the biggest attributes you bring to management?

Don’t worry about the things you can’t effect.

Outwork everyone else, never settle or feel you’ve made it.

Constantly push for better from yourself and those around you.

Be consistent, players will see right through you if you say one thing and do another.

Stick to your morals no matter what goes on around you.

Don’t listen to the noise or “don’t listen to the nay sayers” as Arnold Schwarzenegger puts it, people always like to try and knock those who are fighting to achieve something that seems miles away to other people. Stay focussed.

I think I bring all of the above into management and coaching which is why I have a good record of getting the best from my players and helping them improve as people and as football players.
It’s like being a parent or a teacher really. You have a good idea on what you should be doing to help your team, but you’ll make mistakes and too many managers make excuses rather than owning those mistakes, learning from them and seeing the opportunity.

I’ve loads to learn but I’m wide open to do so and hope that rubs off on those around me and working for me.

That moves me onto the TUFC questions! Nearly a year and a half since leaving TUFC, with time do you think you could have turned things around that season and kept us in the National League?

I know 100% that what I had at TUFC would have stayed up in the National League. No question, but with new owners come new ideas and the decision was made.

I’ve no hard feelings and like to think that some of those who doubted me will now realise just what a good job that myself and the good people around me did to keep TUFC up for those 2 seasons.

What my players and staff went through in those two years was unbelievable at times but when it mattered they stood up with me and got the job done and I’m immensely proud of all who worked with me to achieve safety against all odds, twice!

Do you keep up-to-date with goings on at TUFC and how pleased are you to see Gary Johnson turn our fortunes around?

I’ve been back a few times with my boy who loves the game and watching TUFC but I’ve tried not to follow too much. I want to move on but as a well-known hypnotist in the Torquay area put it to me “it’s like a divorce from someone you’ve been with for years and had great times with. You know it’s not your business anymore, you know it might hurt to go back and that it no longer matters to you, but sometimes you can’t help but have a look to see what’s happening!”

It’s great seeing the positive vibes on social media and I bumped into Gary after doing the radio at one of the games. He’s a good guy and I’m pleased to see him, the club, some of my former players and most of all the fans doing so well again.

This year marks 10 years since that Wembley Play-Off win, what are your biggest memories from that glorious day and are you still in contact with many of your 2009 team-mates?

I remember it all very well, the build up, the game, the feeling of total exhilaration at the end and the people I got to share it with from family, my daughter was born the week before the game, through to my staff and team-mates who were a truly exceptional bunch of people.

I still speak to a few of the guys, Manse of course because he idolises me, Sillsy, Toddy, Lee Hodges, Wayne Carlisle, Bucks and a few more on a slightly less frequent basis but football moves on quickly and so you do lose touch.

No doubt we will have a reunion one day and I guarantee it’ll be like we’d never been away from each other. The team spirit was one of the biggest reasons we went up that year.

Kevin on 2009 – “The team spirit was one of the biggest reasons we went up that year”.

What advice would the 2019 Kevin Nicholson give the 2009 Kevin Nicholson (I’ve always wanted to ask one of those questions)?

Haha, good question. Enjoy the moment, don’t live in the past or what may come in the future, just work as hard as you can and enjoy it as time flies. I like the quote from the Dali Lama I believe “The depressed man lives in the past, the anxious man lives in the future but the content man lives in the present”.

I think I knew that then and I think I’ve lived like that for the most part, but with experience comes the confirmation that is how you should live your life!

And finally – do you have any regrets from your time managing TUFC and what were your biggest highlights from a very eventful couple of years at Plainmoor?

No regrets at all. The things that happened off the pitch were things I could not change. I did all I could on and off the pitch to help the club, the supporters, the players and the community and I don’t think my achievements will be fully realised until a bit more time has passed, people look back and a few more truths come out.

I put up with things that 90% of managers would have folded under even though it was my first job, did it with the help of a small group of good people around me while positively effecting as many people as I could.

I dealt with things that were tough, unfair, immoral and at times illegal but stood by my beliefs and those closest to me and I can proudly say I had a massive part in keeping the club up and afloat, both on and off the pitch. I managed to help a lot of young men improve and move on better for the experience whether professionally or as people and so no regrets at all.

Except maybe I should’ve played myself more and really padded those stats!!!

Cheers Kevin great to talk to you as always, all the best for the rest of the season. Dom

Kevin on managing TUFC “No regrets at all. The things that happened off the pitch were things I could not change”.

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I simply live and breathe Football and have supported Torquay United since 1989. I am a season ticket holder on Bristows and a Trust member. I set up TorquayTalk in 2017 to give true supporters a voice and honest opinions on their club.

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