250 games for Cristian!

250 games for Cristian!

I first spoke to Cristian Colás back in 2014 when he rang me to ask about the possibility of working as an assistant with whoever got the job that we are advertising at the time for a new coach at Biggleswade United.

I had received applications from coaches from such far flung places as Panama and South America, many of whom had coached at a higher level but there was something in Cristian's tone and manner that immediately told me that my search was over.

"What about you," I asked him him. "Wouldn't you fancy doing the job yourself."

"Why not," he said. The rest is history.

In Cristian, I saw someone that was brave, positive, single-minded, loyal and decent. I believed at the time what was needed was someone that knew and understood the Spanish methodolgy that I thought would help to take the club forward and he also had UEFA Pro Coaches licence to go with it.

He came to us after having coached in the fourth tier of Spanish football and also spent some time working in Finland. It was clear just from speaking to him that this was someone who was not afraid of a challenge.

My instincts would prove to be correct. Hiring him was one of the best days work I have ever done; tomorrow as we line up to face London Colney he will be in the dugout for his 250th match as men's first team coach.

Along with him came Fran Constancio who would establish a youth section at the club before going on to bigger things and trophy winning success with Northampton Town Youth Academy as well as a number of Spanish coaches that joined us to gain experience as well as improve their English.

Many of the coaches lived together in a house in Stevenage and some of my happiest nights were those Saturdays spent after a game when we would all gather at my place in Hitchin drinking beer, eating tapas and talking and watching football.

Things did not always go to plan, especially at the start. We lost about 11 games in a row and for the first time I saw someone that was beginning to have self doubts. But gradually as Cristian began to familiarise himself more with the local game, its teams and players and the community that he was now a part of things gradually began to improve.

He left us briefly to join Staines before rejoining the club only to have to negotiate a tortuous season that saw him lose practically the whole of his first team squad when the FA took the arbitrary decision to move our club from the Spartan League into the more northerly based United Counties League.

But we never doubted him or his commitment to the club and we prevailed and after having saved ourselves from relegation at the end of the season received an added bonus when we were informed that we would be moved back into the Spartan League the following season.

Now with Cristian at the helm we can go from strength to strength. We are currently in league title contention near the top of the table in fifth place but with games in hand over most of our rivals and in the third round of the FA Vase for the first time in our history.

Much of our success has been brought about by Cristian who who has involved himself at all levels at the club including the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses that he has both attended and occasionally also run.

He is also always open to help other coaches at the club and many who have left the club have benefitted from his wisdom and advice.

And he has many attributes not least the fact that he is impeccably behaved, hugely respected, a setter of very high standards and a fantastic representative of our club.

He also happens to be gay and he recently made headlines when he took the decision to finally come out after years of living a lie because he feared the revelation of his sexuality would impact onto his footballing career.

His fears were understandable but in reality, to the players - past and present -, directors or supporters it mattered not a jot and many of them have approached me since to say how proud they are to have a man of the integrity of Cristian at the helm.

We are truly blessed to have Cristian at our club but over and above everything else from a personal point of view, the best thing about it is that it allows me to enjoy his company as a truly good, loyal and lifelong friend.