MEET THE FAMILY, MR WATKISS …
Meet the family, Mr Watkiss ...
www.nationwide.co.uk, 18 Dec
Former Birmingham City defender Ian Clarkson, now plying his trade with Dr Marten's League club Stafford Rangers and footballmatters@nationwide, chats to recently sacked Mansfield Town boss Stuart Watkiss about life out of the managerial chair
The last time I played alongside Stuart Watkiss was in piping hot sunshine for a veteran's team in Monza. We won thanks to a Tony Morley goal and a solid defensive pairing of, would you believe, Clarkson and Watkiss (of course you'd believe!).
At the time Stuart was building himself quite a reputation as Mansfield Town's youth team coach. He was subsequently promoted to first team number two then to manager, from which position he guided the Stags to promotion last season after only five months in charge.
The current campaign did not go according to plan, however, and with a crippling injury list decimating his squad Stuart found himself unceremoniously dismissed with less than half the season gone.
When I rang him to offer my condolences we chatted for quite a while and one of the questions I asked him, as it's always intrigued me, was just how an out of work manager goes about whiling away the hours.
Managers are known for working long and punishing days as they try to combine scouting, managing, office duties and dealing with the media, so I imagined that the chance of some rest and recreation would be welcomed.
Stuart told me: "The first thing I did was to reintroduced myself to the wife and kids! I had been working very long hours, so it's been nice to be able to spend more time with them - and I've also piled up the brownie points by doing plenty of housework!
"I've also been keeping in trim at the gym and it will probably be another couple of weeks before I go out and about to start watching games again. In the meantime I'm going to have a nice family Christmas."
Mrs. Doubtfire impressions aside, Stuart will have plenty of time to contemplate his achievements at Field Mill - he produced around a dozen players for the first team during his three years in charge of the club's youth set-up as well as guiding the senior team to last season's promotion.
This experience will certainly stand him in good stead. He said: "I am hopeful of staying in football in some capacity and I fully believe in my own ability, although I am not too proud or pig headed to take an assistant manager's job or to take on the role of reserve or youth team manager.
"First and foremost I want to be involved again, ideally at League level but I would have no qualms about stepping down into the Conference as there are some good players there - and I would back my ability whatever the level."
While he has a bit of spare time Stuart could perhaps finish off the coaching 'A' License he is halfway through. But if he is still not fixed up by next summer, maybe he and I could check out those veterans fixtures for any more European sorties - better get those passports ready just in case….