FORMER Bannsiders utility man Johnny Watt is the latest player to be involved in the series…
The hometown player came through the ranks at The Showgrounds and made his debut against Dungannon Swifts in December 2005.
In total, Watt made 222 appearances for the Bannsiders, scoring four times, before going on to celebrate a testimonial year with the club.
‘Tussy’ would depart for a spell at Limavady United, but is now playing with Portstewart and he speaks to Jonathan McNabb about his career.
Q1. Talk us through your youth career? You played under a good Coleraine Reserves side when breaking through into the first-team?
I started playing for East-End from the under 13 age group and I progressed to the under 16’s. I loved every minute of it and it was such a great youth team.
I moved over to Coleraine Colts and Reserves, where Davy Platt and Aaron Forgrave were in charge and it was a strong team with Darren Boyce, Kyle McVey and myself, but there were a few more players who should have broken into the first team but it just didn’t happen for them which was disappointing.
I have to mention Victor Hunter as he took the Colts at that time and what a legend of a man he is for Coleraine FC.
Q2. Can you remember much from your debut against Dungannon Swifts? How big of an influence was Marty Quinn in your career?
It was a Friday night game and we won 2-0. Marty had told me I was starting a week before it, which I think made me more nervous but I was ready for the step up.
Marty and Jimmy Calvin always put their faith in me and it didn’t matter where I played as they knew I would always do my best.
Marty had a great way with players as he always knew who to give a bit of stick to and those who needed an arm around them, but come 3 o’clock you were kicking the door down to get a result for him.
I loved every minute of it as I learnt a great amount under him.
Q3. You also played under Davy Platt and Oran Kearney…what were those experiences like?
Davy Platt brought me to Coleraine from East-End and he was one of the biggest reasons for me making the step-up into senior football. His development of young players was second to none and he brought some great players to Coleraine and I feel he was very unlucky to get sacked at the time as he was a young manager coming through and we were going through a hard spell. Davy had done so much in a short time and I can only thank him for everything he done for me.
Oran taking over was hard for me at the start but he brought the best out of me. He is a great manager and credit to him for what he has achieved with Coleraine and St Mirren – what a man!
I feel Coleraine fans never got to see me at my best as I had a lot of injuries during my time at the club, but I always played with pride and loved every second and wouldn’t change one part of it.
Q4. Would you say not winning a trophy was your biggest regret from your career with Coleraine?
My biggest regret by far is not winning a trophy with Coleraine.
We lost in an Irish Cup final and two League Cup deciders and we were so close to lifting silverware, but that’s football and probably one of the reasons I am still playing to rectify that.
Q5. It must have been difficult when Oran didn’t offer you a new deal? You must have been proud to have reached a testimonial year?
At the time I was devastated but when I look back it was the right thing for me and I thank Oran for it now as I needed to be playing every week.
I could never see myself leaving Coleraine as I had no interest playing anywhere else and it was the only club I wanted to play for.
My biggest achievement was my testimonial for my home team and it is something which can never be taken away from me.
Q6. You have had a spell with Limavady United but now at Portstewart…how are you finding it?
I had two great years at Limavady United as we won the treble in the first year and managed to retain Championship status a year later, but we had a great side and should have done so much more.
I moved to Portstewart last year as I felt I needed a change but also Johnny Law had taken over at the club, and like myself, he is a winner and doesn’t enjoy being second best.
We are a work in progress but I will put my neck on the line and say we will be challenging for the league as we have some great lads and footballers in our squad.