Forres Mechanics Youth Development coach Duncan Simpson retires after 25 years
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A POPULAR coach has retired from football after dedicating more than a quarter of a century to improving young local players.
Duncan Simpson (56) from Pilmuir is spending more time with his family but his son Keith (35) is staying on to help with Forres Mechanics Youth Development U14s squad.
Duncan said: “It’s probably time. I’m a grandad now and I’m not getting any younger.”
Keith added: “Dad’s proud of how well the group he coached over the last three years since they were 13-years-old has progressed. It’s a proud achievement to end his coaching career.”
Duncan started coaching aged 27, looking after the Pilmuir Primary School team.
He was then invited to coach Keith’s Forres Area Soccer Sevens side when his son was 12-years-old.
After two years, the club that Duncan had supported for as long as he could remember, requested his services.
He said: “I was delighted. I remember then Mechanics were the first team in the league to have a player of a different ethnicity - a wee Russian boy.”
From there he worked on and off with the club for over 25 years, while raising a family and working as a school janitor.
Keith remembered: “Dad thought it would be a good idea to take part in the Forres Academy sports day in 2019. While playing football, he collided with a young lad and broke his knee in three places but he still turned up to Mechanics pre-season and continued to coach the lads that year.”
He added: “Dad dedicated a lot of his time to coaching in Forres, everything from doing courses in Glasgow to spending Sundays on buses travelling to the likes of Wick and Fort William for away games.
“He wanted to help young players progress so his proudest moments were seeing them make it into the first team. Ross McPherson, Chris Hardie, and Stuart Finlayson were some that did.”
Probation minister and Forres Mechanics chaplain, Reverend Stuart Finlayson (38), appreciated Duncan’s help and advice.
He said: “I played my first game for the U13 side about 25 years ago and can remember Duncan being around then. He was always up front but encouraged us. I’m very thankful for his commitment because without it we wouldn’t have had the opportunity we did.
“Thank you Duncan for your time and passion for the beautiful game in Forres over so many years.”
Forres Mechanics Youth Development coordinator Dave McCartney confirmed that in the last decade, Duncan mainly took the U13s - the youngest group until the U12s section was started last year.
He said: “Duncan is dedicated and reliable. He completed Scottish Football Association coaching badges up to Level 3.
“He will be missed but has a great successor in Keith, who was his coaching partner for the last couple of years and is continuing next season.
“Many thanks to Duncan for his great service over the years and we wish him well in retirement. He will be missed.”
Duncan is a life member at Forres Mechanics and also served in the committee in his younger years.
And his advice for anyone else thinking about coaching young players?
“Go for it,” he said. “It takes a lot of time and dedication but it’s extremely rewarding.”