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Gary Manson tells of his 'burning desire' to win more honours with Wick Academy


By Alan Hendry

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Gary Manson set to clear the ball during a Highland League match against Inverurie Locos at Harlaw Park in April this year. Picture: Mel Roger
Gary Manson set to clear the ball during a Highland League match against Inverurie Locos at Harlaw Park in April this year. Picture: Mel Roger

Wick Academy player/manager Gary Manson has spoken of his "burning desire" to win more honours after 22 years at the Highland League club.

Manson has made 684 competitive appearances for the Scorries and has had the role of manager since 2020.

He was part of the squad that won the North of Scotland Cup in 2015 but, at the age of 38, isn't content with that solitary medal.

Manson speaks about his early days in football as a youngster growing up in Thurso, and the "competitive nature" that still drives him on, in an interview with Wick Voices, the oral history project of the Wick Society.

"I'm still playing, but coming out of my playing career with only one medal doesn't sit right with me," he says.

"That's the real burning desire – to go and win, whether it be a league, whether it be a cup… You're not going to win the Scottish Cup, but whether it be three or four rounds in the Scottish Cup. If you get to the fourth round of the Scottish Cup, that's as good as a medal, really.

"As a player you're part of a team, you're just one cog in that wheel. But as a manager you're overseeing everything, you're responsible for the whole squad, and I think to win something as a manager would eclipse that 2015 cup win for me.

"If a psychologist looked at me I'd probably be declared insane, but it's just that competitive nature and I have that desire to go and win more trophies than I have at the moment."

Gary Manson: 'Coming out of my playing career with only one medal doesn't sit right with me.' Picture: Alan Hendry
Gary Manson: 'Coming out of my playing career with only one medal doesn't sit right with me.' Picture: Alan Hendry

Manson recalls how he was part of Aberdeen's regional youth football squad in the far north before going on to Ross County at the age of 14.

He reflects on some of the highlights of his Wick career, including the 2012/13 season when the team won all 17 of their home league games and came close to winning the title.

He also talks about some of the team-mates he has played alongside over the years.

Manson, who works as an assistant project manager at Dounreay, gives an insight into the level of commitment involved in being a Highland League manager – and makes it clear that his motivation is as strong as ever ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.

He says: "It's a job that you could never ever do yourself, so having Michael Gray [assistant manager], Gordon McDonald [first-team coach] and James More [goalkeeping coach] there is a big help.

"Even with those guys there, I feel like it's almost a full-time job at times… Every single day of the week is taken up by football. It is almost 24/7. It is very full-on."

The interview is freely accessible on the Wick Society website – www.wickheritage.org – along with more than 330 other oral history recordings.


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