Exclusive Interview: Darren Young

James Rowe for The Secret Footballer

East Fife manager Darren Young spoke exclusively to James Rowe. Over the course of his career he also played for East Fife alongside, Aberdeen, Dundee, Dunfermline Athletic and Greenock Morton.

(image source: The National)

JR: You became East Fife manager in 2017. Having also played for the club how are you enjoying managing the club and what do you view as the challenges of managing a club such as East Fife?

DY: “I arrived at the club as player manager but the boots were starting to get hung up before then. I only really played a couple of pre season games helping the team out when we were short on numbers. It’s always good to play but when joining East Fife it was more about the coaching side of things having been player / manager for three years before that at Albion Rovers. It has been great so far and slightly easier because you are not having to keep yourself fit as a player and you can just concentrate on training side of things. Now, I am able to watch the players, write up and take the training sessions. When you’re still playing it’s hard to do all three. East Fife are up there as one of the best part time teams in Scotland and there are quite a few in the top four flights. There is a mix of full time and part time teams. We want to improve the club as best we can and if possible, would like to get myself into full time football management and try and work my way up the ladder as I did when I was a young player during my playing career.”

JR: You came through the youth setup and debuted for Aberdeen. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have a highlights or special memories?

DY: “I loved my time at Aberdeen. They were the team at the time who were promoting a lot of boys from the youth, such as, Eoin Jess, Stephen Wright, Scott Booth, Stephen Glass - all these guys had came through the youth setup and made my decision easy to join them. You are looking around at Rangers, Celtic, Hearts of Midlothian and Hibernian FC spending millions, I did have the opportunity to go to one or two other teams but just felt that going to Aberdeen was best and if I did well I would get an opportunity to play. It also helped that every year from eleven years old you would be up staying and training there three times a year. The Easter week, Summer week and also in the October week, we stayed in digs on Great Western Road so all the boys that had came up from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee etc stayed together and went out to training. We would be in the same changing room as the reserves and the first team were round the corner so straight away it was like, wow this is amazing, being next to guys that you usually only get to see on the TV. Once we were out on the training pitch we had the first team training only 50 yards from us, again the fact that we were so close was also a big pull and just made you feel like you were actually part of Aberdeen. I made my debut at 17 years of age and I was in school the year before, I scored my first goal for the club in 1996 against Barry Town in the UEFA Cup which is now the Europa League and to do that at 17 years of age and then get called up for Scotland under 21’s was a dream come true. I became captain of Aberdeen at 22 years old as well, which was a great honour”.

JR: You played five seasons for Dunfermline Athletic. How do I you look back on your time at the club and do you have any special highlights or memories?

DY: “Dunfermline Athletic was great, I loved my time there and my brother Derek also came with me. I had five seasons full of ups and downs. We reached two Scottish Cup Finals, League Cup final and the Challenge Cup Final in five years. In my first season we finished fourth in the league, which is Dunfermline Athletic’s highest ever finish, we also managed to get into Europe twice as well and unfortunately got relegated in my last season. In my second Scottish Cup final I played in I got man of the match which was nice from a personal point of view but I would have swapped it for a cup winners medal. I played with a lot of good players and guys that I still keep in contact with.”

JR: You played under some very good managers in your career. Did you receive any particular advice from managers you played under before embarking on your own career as a professional football manager?

DY: “One of the things that always stuck out for me is the recruitment in football and I remember a few managers saying that. You could be the best manager or coach in the world but if you do not recruit well then it will harm you. You need to get the right type of players in and the changes made at the end of a football season. It was the same for me at Albion Rovers where I had a squad of 16/17 players that you make into your own team and you want to put your own stamp on. The players must also have the right attitude especially when things are not going well to help you in the dressing room. Another piece of advice I received is just to be honest with your players and make such you are approachable to the players and always make them aware if they are getting left out of squads, why they are being left out of squads. It just shows a bit of respect to the players.”

JR: Finally Darren. You are still a very young manager. Is there anything that you would like to achieve in your managerial career in future?

DY: “I have lots of ambitions and I always aspire to improve and get better every season. When I went to Albion Rovers we won the league in our first season which was amazing and the next season we missed out on the play-offs with one point. If I do well at East Fife then I would hope that I get an opportunity to go and manage/coach full time. At East Fife we have managed to better the points total every season that we have been here. We also had an eleven game unbeaten run for the first time in 70 years, qualified from the League Cup section, made it to the last 16 in the Scottish Cup, got to the semi final of the Challenge Cup and achieved a lot of things at the club. The previous manager scrapped the youth team which was a poor decision from my point of view. We have now managed to get a lot of young boys in and recently one of our young players played in the derby game against Raith Rovers and he scored on his debut and did very well. It is great for the East Fife fans to see that. Ideally if we can get East Fife to keep improving in future I will be happy.”

James Rowe is a Dutch Football expert based in the Netherlands, professional writer and translator for The Secret Footballer. He has featured on talkSPORT and regularly features on talkSPORT 2 and Love Sport Radio. You can follow him on Twitter here.