Ahead of National Non League Day this weekend and as part of our campaign to Get Behind The Eagles, the spotlight falls on Bedford Town’s young manager Craig Adams - a true football man, writes Layth Yousif.
Craig, 39, hails from the Midlands and was on Premiership club West Bromwich Albion’s books as a youngster before moving to Northampton Town, making two first team appearances for the Cobblers in the early 1990s.
Craig said: “I made my debut as a 17-year-old playing against Blackpool and Trevor Sinclair (ex England and Manchester City winger). I felt like a world beater! I had some great times there but unfortunately the club had financial difficulties.
“Although I got taken on as a professional on a one-year contract I was released at 18 which was devastating. I drifted into non-league football but had serious injuries so by my mid-20s I was forced to retire. The surgeon said to me I was going to be a cripple if I tried to keep on playing.”
With a young family and facing a life outside football, Craig showed great courage and determination in forging a new career, first as a postman then as a bricklayer.
He said: “After leaving football I was very flat. My eldest daughter was two at the time and we needed to pay the bills. I’ve always been a hard worker so I just got on with it - but I couldn’t watch a football match for a few years.”
Fortunately Craig had a strong family who’ve been behind him all the way.
He said: “I’ve been with my wife Jade for 20 years and we’ve been married for 17 of them. I owe her so much and couldn’t have done it without her and my two daughters. We’re pretty close, she’s always been very understanding and supportive. She’s my rock.”
Eventually the football bug returned and Craig ‘got roped into a bit of coaching’, spiralling from there to see the family man become a highly qualified football coach. Craig’s two daughters Chloe, 16, and Molly, 12, are keen football fans too. Proud father Craig said: “We often have football conversations as they’ve grown-up with the game and are knowledgeable. However Chloe’s got a thing about ginger-haired players and she’s always on at me if I substitute a ginger-haired player!”
Hard-working Craig clocks up the hours combining his day job with being The Eagles manager.
A typical day involving squad training would see him leave home at 6.30am to lay bricks before finally arriving home at around 11pm after conducting a training session at the Eyrie.
He said: “I do have a strong work ethic and I expect my team to buy into that as well.”
One thing his team doesn’t buy into is his dress sense.
Craig smiled and said: “I’m 39 not 59 but I do get hammered for my attire. I don’t think my trousers and shirt combo has gone down too well with the lads. Mind you I’m bigger than most of them so they won’t be too bold in taking the mickey.”
With National-Non League Day this Saturday Craig urges everyone to come down to the Eyrie to watch their game with Potters Bar, kick-off at 3pm. He said: “I want everyone to get behind the team and it would be great to see as many fans as possible attend on Saturday.”