So you want to become a football coach…?

If you’ve ever fancied getting into the coaching side of the game, whether it be simply to help your kids team out or perhaps it’s the starting point of a long career in the game, it’s worth reading this book as an introduction. It exposes the reader to the realities of life as a coach of a junior football team, from the joys of seeing the young players enjoying themselves playing the game they love to the realities of organising a team on a cold, wet winter morning and the dealing with the behaviour of parents, trying to relive their failed football careers through their children. 

Author Steve O’Donoghue’s own story is as a parent of two football playing children, living in Manchester (supporting the blue half), and the book charts his move into volunteering to manage his elder son’s team, and follows the inevitable ups and downs of his team throughout the season.

The book begins with an anecdote from an under-11 game with a parent berating his own goalkeeping son, something that you hope never happens but you know is commonplace every weekend across the country. His coaching journey includes wondering if he will have enough players to complete the first game, from a losing start to cup glory, nervously awaiting a forgetful goalkeeper for a key game, dealing with unhappy substitutes and even unhappier parents. It also follows his experiences with the FA’s coaching courses and highlights the effects on his own coaching style between wanting the best for the kids and wanting to win.

Offering an insight into the amount of work it takes to coach grass roots football and effect the coaching has on his private life., the book also exposes the ugly more sinister side of our children’s game, the relationship between players and parents, and uncovers the backlash when parents and coaches expectations collide. It is a brutally honest, humorous and sometimes poignant account of a man who just wants the best for his players.

The book is a pretty quick read (less than 100 pages), and helped by the author’s engaging storytelling, it’s a hard book to put down – I read it in three sittings. You look forward to hearing the next tale in a rollercoaster season, whether it be the next victory or the unseen problems ahead. 

It is a thoroughly recommended read particularly for new coaches of kids, but also for the more experienced who need reminding that the issues we experience as coaches are felt by all. Don’t just take our word for it, check out some of the reviews of the book from various sources below.

Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Was late for work and didn’t get out on time because I couldn’t put it down. Having watched a lot a junior football when my son was reffing a lot of the narrative really resonated. No waffle just a cracking read.

Stuart Hargreaves

This book is a refreshing surprise. Although shorter than the egocentric, ghost written football anthologies that appear in supermarkets, the author’s offering here requires none of the padding as from the first minute, in true Sunday morning style, he gets the reader well and truly stuck in, on the ball and in the box.

And it’s much more than just a football book; this is a book about parenting, about fears and expectations, about going the extra that many parents do, to make the world around the child a much better place.

It would be a shame to load the review with cliches, as the author avoids these with ease, but you do feel every kick, every bruise, every win and every loss. Heartwarming and much recommended.


A wonderful read, I found myself laughing regularly also the odd tear in my eye too. The author gives an honest and insightful account of how difficult it is coaching kids while at the same time dealing with every aspect of running an amateur club.

I doff my cap to Steve and all coaches like him up and down the country for their time given and dedication they show in coaching our children, the next Gazza’s and who knows, possibly Englands next World Cup winning captain…

We can but dream!


This book is a great read, brings home the trials and tribulations that a dad converted to a junior football coach has to put up with from certain quarters when their sole intention is to give their and other parents kids a chance to play football in a safe and encouraging environment. Comical in parts, well done Steve I really enjoyed the it.

Mark Irwin

Very well written. Funny, fully of anecdotes and useful advice. Made me carry on coaching when I wanted to pack it all in because of a couple of nutty parents. If you’re a coach new to the role, start with this!

RP Straw

I’ve read this book and it’s belting!! I was really down after my u10s had been absolutely battered. I picked this book up and read it from cover to cover. It really made me realise that I don’t coach for results, it’s for the kids to develop not only into footballers but decent human beings and if I can be a positive role in their journey then I’m more than happy.

Dave Martin

Lovely slice of junior football life as told through the eyes of a dad who is the coach. My husband could identify with so many of the stories in this great book. Well done Steve.

Jane Ross

Just finished this short but thoroughly entertaining book. It’s actually quite sad in parts, when you realise just how coaches are made to feel by parents and sometimes even players. This book has its fair share of shameful guardians, but in equal measure it has sprinkles of absolute joy and humour. I’ve not coached for 10 years now, but sadly it appears not much has changed. I could really relate to the stories in this book. Recommended. 


Junior Football – it’s not a man’s game is available now direct from Steve O’Donoghue’s website, or Amazon where it is also available for Kindle.