Matt Wilson: 15 Finals in 15 years. Challenge Cup preview.
Based on cup final appereances alone, you'd struggle to find a coach who can match the success of West Hull Under 10 and Under 18s Head Coach, Matt Wilson. Wilson started playing at West Hull 30 years ago joining the under 13s and took up coaching towards the end of his playing career. Now in his 40's, Matt has developed into one of the regions most successful coaches, appearing in 15 cup finals in the last 15 years.
" I was coached by Dave Girch and Kevin Amo both were great coaches and made things fun! From the first session I was hooked! I played until I was around 35 years old and have now coached for around 15 years... I started while I was still playing so for the mathematicians reading, I’m not 50!"
I recently caught up with Matt to discuss his playing and coaching background, as well as upcoming final this weekend, and here's what he had to say to GRM:
1. What was your greatest achievement as a player?
" As a player I was lucky to be a part of probably the greatest amateur group of players in history! We won leagues and national cups for a good few years, we were very skilled but also very tough! Many of this group of players have also gone on to coaching in various roles".
2. What are some of your best memories playing for West Hull?
"There are so many funny stories over the seasons! Seeing Glyn Jones crying after conceding a try at Mayfield and the Physio saying afterwards that he didn’t know whether to slap him or cuddle him was funny! Then there was the time Glyn Jones started on Martin ketteridge (a big ex-professional prop) and Glyn got dotted! In the clubhouse after the game Glyn was happy as Martin said he’d pay for his false teeth!
To be honest, a lot of stories involve Glyn! However he was a class winger and one of the best players I have played alongside!"
3. What got you into coaching?
" I never really thought about coaching but my eldest son; Ryan and his team needed a coach at West Hull under 12's and I said I’d do it! It took off from there and we went from losing the first game 50-0 to Beverley, to eventually winning the Yorkshire Cup, National Cup and League at under 16's with 12 players signing for Hull F.C. at the time!
I then got the coaching bug and coached service area for three seasons and also Yorkshire Under 14's and 15's.
When I look back at how I coached in the beginning I cringe a bit! I think a lot of ex-players are the same and just want to win! But after a few years I realised the most important part is player development and enjoyment for the game. Get this right and winning usually follows. Even at under 18's I try to give equal game time to players if I have a big squad."
4. Talk us through some of the notable players you have produced.
"I have coached a lot of very good players over the years and have made a lot of friends and a few enemies no doubt. There’s too many good players to mention from the past, but they were all honest, disciplined and very tough - probably the three most important attributes! As a coach we are trying to make these kids in to good players but also good people!
My next team started at under 12's and they got into 4 Yorkshire Cup finals and a National Cup final and a lot of great players have come from this team, most are still playing with me at under 18's with 6 playing first team this year!
Mikey Lewis and Conner Matthews also signed for City of Hull from this team! I’ve started again at under 10's coaching my 2 younger sons at West’s and there’s a lot of talented little players in this team"
5. You've taken teams to many high-profile finals, why do you think your teams have been so successful?
" I put the success down to being honest, committed, and also a bit lucky as West Hull do attract players! I’ve made 11 Yorkshire cup finals and 5 national cup finals ! Which is a record that will probably never get beaten and I feel very privileged to have coached some great players. I’d like to thank Terry and Fiona Everson our chairman and Youth Secretary for their support and help they have given me and all the coaches over the years."
6. Tell us a bit more about your final this weekend.
" We play in the Challenge Cup final this week at under 18's against Moldgreen at Featherstone. This team is doing very well in the League but we have a good chance if we defend strong with good discipline and control the ball!"
7. Who are your key players this weekend?
"There’s a few key players for West’s. Our pack is very strong and it’s organised by Jack-In-the-box hooker Kieran Sewell. Our Full-Back Luke Moss is extremely talented and will be a big threat to Moldgreen, and our best and most consistent outside back Jamie Leigh has been superb all season and will be one to watch!
8. If you could make one change in rugby what would it be?
" I’d like to see spectators and coaches who abuse referees to get heavy bans and fines, as I’m seeing this every week at mini mod and also coaches need to realise its about players having fun,and not reliving there own careers! I also think coaching staff need to stay in their technical areas and should be sent off if they don’t!"