James Montgomery is looking to strengthen the link between the academy and the first team after taking on a dual role within Gateshead FC Academy.
The goalkeeper has been appointed as U19 Assistant Coach and U17-U19 Specialist Goalkeeping Coach, following on from Louis Storey’s appointment as Head of Football Development within the youth academy setup.
“It’ll be good for the keepers to have a specialised coach, and it also brings on the link between the first team and the academy,” said Montgomery.
“A few of the lads played for the U19s last year, and hopefully with myself being a bit more of a senior member it’ll be something that builds the relationship between the two groups.
“Hopefully when they see me in the gym or wherever it’s more of a familiar face, rather than the first team lads who they don’t really know.
“That will be one of the key things and hopefully I can help the lads from the U17s, U18s and U19s progress.”
Montgomery spent time coaching first team goalkeepers Jacob Chapman and Filip Marschall last season, before officially re-joining the club as a player in March 2022.
He says that dual role was not only a learning experience for the players under his tutelage, but also himself, adding: “I probably learned more about goalkeeping last year as a coach, helping Filip and Chappy, than I had done in quite a few years.
“Where those two are in their career, I’ve been there before, being the young lad making your way in senior football.
“I was the same age as Chappy is when I first started playing men’s football, and a little older than Filip, and with experience and playing more games you start to understand which are the right decisions to make.
“When I was highlighting things to those lads, it was something for me to learn from as well.”
Montgomery’s move into a player-coach role with the first team squad was something he has had in the back of his mind for some time, though he admits it came around much sooner than he had expected due to injuries as a player.
“I’ve always had a bit of an eye on coaching,” he said.
“Football being taken away from me for 10 months as a player, which wasn’t nice, made me look at that other avenue a bit earlier than I’d hoped.
“I’m on with doing my badges now, I’m currently on one of the licences in Wales, and I’ll keep progressing and getting more of those done.
“Hopefully by the time I am finished playing, whenever that is, I am ready to go into coaching full time and can focus on that a little bit more.
“I’m just trying to help myself for the future as best as I can.”
The immediate focus for the goalkeeper, though, is Monday’s return to pre-season training with the first team.
“The main thing with football for me is being around your team mates every day,” Montgomery added.
“It’s what I love the most about football and I think anyone will tell you the same.
“Hopefully I can help whoever comes in as best as I can for the team this season – it’ll be good to push each other and both try to fight for the shirt.”