Willie Donachie International Manager & Accrington Stanley Coach
A Coffee shop in Whalley is probably not the first place that springs to mind when plotting international football tactics but it is where former Burnley full-back Willie Donachie and his assistant ex-Blackburn Rovers star Mick Rathbone hold their weekly meetings.
Donachie, who signed for the Clarets under John Bond in the early 1980’s spent two years at Turf Moor, he is now coaching Accrington Stanley U14’s and he has just become the new manager of Montserrat a tiny Caribbean Island which was devastated by a volcano twenty three years ago. It’s a far cry from running out at Turf Moor or Maine Road, but the sixty seven year old’s passion for his new job is clear.
Montserrat has a population of five thousand people and is currently ranked at 202 out of 211 in the FIFA World Rankings. However they recorded a 2-0 victory last weekend over Aruba and the 1-0 victory over Belize last month means they keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Speaking about his International management career Willie Donachie said, “That would be unbelievable, it is a tiny country and half of it is still being rebuilt after the volcano. But the people are so friendly and warm. The first time I went over to Montserrat I stayed in this little guest house and I found out afterwards it belonged to George Martin, who produced a lot of songs for the Beatles.
Montserrat is one of those places where if you were seen walking someone would pull over and offer you a lift for no reason whatsoever. Everyone is really friendly and they are very passionate about their football. Donachie is no stranger to Caribbean Waters having been in charge of Antigua. About eight years ago I was coach of Antigua which is not far from Montserrat and they recommended me for the job at Montserrat when they were looking for a new coach.
I know a lot about Caribbean football and I wanted to be involved in the Nations League games which are a big thing in Montserrat. Our final Nations League clash with the Cayman Islands is set to be the biggest game in our history with a chance of qualifying for the Gold Cup.”
Donachie, who played in two FIFA World Cups for Scotland during his career searches high and wide for qualified players to represent the Emerald Boys. Most of his squad play in the lower reaches of the English game and training takes place as and when possible.
Montserrat are currently 13th in a 34-team league where each side plays four matches to determine a finishing position. The bottom 12 sides will form League C of the Nations League with Montserrat aiming for League B. Should they finish in the top 10 they will qualify for next year’s Gold Cup. Donachie believes his side stand a chance as their final fixture is against a Cayman Islands side who have played two lost two.
If Montserrat are able to pull of Gold Cup qualification then Donachie and Rathbone will be the talk of East Lancashire coffee shops for a long time to come.