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Jack McGraghan
Author: Jack McGraghan

26th July 2023

Interview taken from issue 206 of HeedLines, sold at our pre-season friendly against Harrogate Town.

There was little doubt in Carl Magnay’s mind as to where he’d be playing his football this season.

The defender might have been the final member of last season’s squad to sign on for the coming campaign, but it turns out it was only the logistical side that prevented discussions from progressing quicker.

“I was on holiday and so couldn’t sign, and then everyone else was on holiday when I came back!” he said.

“It was always in the pipeline, which I was very pleased about, because it’s a very exciting time to be a part of the club.

“I love working with the staff here, and I believe this is the most talented group of players we’ve had since the first time I was here when we got to the play off final.”

Now aged 34 and with over 250 career appearances – 119 of those for Gateshead – under his belt, Magnay is acutely aware that his role as a player and team-mate has changed over the years.

Not only active in the game as a player, Magnay is working through his coaching badges and also acts as North UK Youth Scout with Premier League club Chelsea, where he began his career after earning a contract as the winner of Sky One’s reality series Football Icon in 2007.

“I’m just trying to gather as much knowledge around the game as possible,” he said.

“When I got the opportunity to go back to Chelsea as a scout I jumped at it, so through that role as well as coaching, I’m prepared for different avenues when I do hang the boots up.

“Fortunately, I haven’t missed a lot of what goes on here and I’m still very committed to achieving things at Gateshead, but whenever I have to be somewhere with Chelsea, Mike has been really flexible.

“The long journeys are actually really helpful for me because I can get a lot of work done. There is a lot of video work involved in scouting, so on long journeys I’m often on my laptop and able to be very productive.

“It actually goes in hand in hand with coaching in that I’m watching so many teams, players and formations that it helps me to develop a greater understanding of the game.

“I love the way Mike works and I feel that he’s a bright mind in the game, so from a coaching aspect he’s someone who I take a lot from in how he approaches the game, but also in the culture that he tries to create.

“I was only about 20 when a manager I was working under said that he felt I had a career in coaching beyond playing – I still had a lot of years to go as a player, so I don’t know if I took offence to it!

“Once my playing career does finish though it’s something I’ll probably move into organically, it seems like a natural fit for me.”

In having a box office view to how Mike – and the rest of the club’s coaching staff – operate, Magnay has been able to see how the much-documented ‘process’ has helped the club battle beyond its means.

Players have opted to turn down other moves in favour of becoming part of the project on Tyneside – with loanee turned permanent signing Callum Whelan one example.

“Whelo came up here with Solihull Moors early on last season,” Magnay recalled.

“He was exposed to our style of play, and even in a period when results weren’t what we wanted we were still headstrong in what we were trying to do.

“He was really impressed by that, and that ended up being one of the main factors leading him to join on loan later in the season.

“There was a clear identity which players appreciate – they don’t want to be in a team that’s a bit off the cuff and has no direction.

“It’s a huge pull, the way that Mike and Ian want to play is very modern and attractive.

“It’s well documented that we don’t have the biggest budget, so the way in which they work to sell our culture and philosophy definitely compensates for that lack of financial power.”

Now deep into preparations for the club’s second consecutive season in the National League, Magnay knows full well the effect he can have as part of the squad.

He may not play as much as he hopes, or once did, but the role of maintaining the standards of his team-mates and encouraging a positive atmosphere each week is one the defender is keen to take on.

“That’s one of the big cultural messages here – the team is more important than the individual,” he said.

“If I’m not playing then I have to look at other ways to affect the team. That can be delivering the message from the office to the changing room, or keeping the environment tight and positive on a day-to-day basis.

“I know what it’s like as a young player, sometimes it’s easy to switch off when your arousal is low or when you’re not feeling great physically and you don’t maintain the standards you should.

“As you get older, you’re more conscious of the wider effect you have, even if I’m not feeling great physically I try to push others around me.

“I’m probably not going to start as regularly as I want, but there are other areas I can bring value.

“Mike feels that way as well and that’s ultimately why I signed for another year, which I’m delighted about.”

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