SSMFL,D1: Goalkeeper coach reflects on an experience of Riches in an illustrious career

Sports Shots has spoken to the vastly experienced Pete Riches ahead of Buckingham Athletic’s trip to Ampthill Town on Saturday.

Pete Riches

Riches, who coaches at Stratford Fields, has spoken of a fantastic career in playing in goal and coaching the art of goalkeeping.

Looking back to when it all started, it was certainly an amazing education as a youngster Riches told Sports Shots:

As a keeper I was on the books of one of the biggest clubs in the game, Manchester United during the 1968/69 season working with club number one Alex Stepney and his understudy, future European Cup winner with Aston Villa, Jimmy Rimmer with a team that also contained the likes of Best, Law, Stiles and Crerand. And of course, that meant that manager was a certain Matt Busby at the time, so not a bad training ground!

After his spell at Old Trafford, Riches headed south.

I moved to Northampton Town where I remained as a semi-pro, being loaned out to Marlow (Athenian league) moving on to Bletchley Town (Southern league), Wolverton Town (Spartan league), Buckingham Athletic (Helleniç league) and Milton Keynes Borough (South Midlands League Premier). At Buckingham Town I was also capped for the Berks and Bucks under 21 side that reached the semi-finals of the National Cup. I finished playing aged 41.

Riches was always very keen on the skill and learning his trade and began coaching while he was playing.

I started a goalkeeper coaching career started at Bletchley Town aged 28 and acted as player goalkeeper coach at Milton Keynes Borough, who I also had a spell as Manager taking them to the top of South Midlands Premier. I was assistant manager and goalkeeper coach at Buckingham Town and goalkeeper coach at Kettering Town before joining Brackley Town at the start of 2005, where I worked under a number of managers up to present day.

Despite the game changing, Riches has adapted and continued to learn different methods but the aim over the years has always been to benefit the goalkeepers he has developed.

As a coach my job is to understand and support young goalkeepers by evaluating their faults during training. Training is without doubt an important aspect with which to build keepers confidence and belief, in their own abilities. A structured, continuous coaching programme is implemented based on sound techniques and demonstrations, so as to formally give a good grounding from which youngsters can learn. Youngsters will grow at different speeds. A coach can do nothing about genetics, so when a smaller keeper is performing with a minimum of errors height is unimportant.

There is nothing more satisfying than when a goalkeeper achieves a clean sheet without any errors or enjoys a game he or she is unbeatable in all departments. I consider myself to be lucky to have worked with some of the very best from professional level, including ex England under 18 and under 20 Internationals, down to local level.

Riches still has an incredible passion and love of the game, which is very evident when speaking to him.

Now working in my 70th year I hope there are a few years left for me to don the gloves and pass on experience picked up along my journey.

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