50 Not OutDate: 13 January 2018 at 10:25 by Liam Cook
Coventry United Ladies manager Jay Bradford reaches a milestone on Sunday, the County Cup match at home to Burton will be her 50th match in charge of the Red and Green Girls.
Jay joined the club in 2003 and played through the age groups, from junior to senior, winning leagues and cups along the way. In 2008 she joined Wolves Women as a player until 2010, when she spent a brief spell coaching in America for the New York Redbulls. Upon her return to England, Jay rejoined Coventry as a senior player and also took a coaching role with the u11's. Between 2010 and 2012, Jay coached through the various age groups eventually settling with the u18s. In 2012 she became Director of junior football which saw Jay increase the number of age groups across the female section and regain links with the senior teams in regards to player pathways.
An ongoing hip injury forced Jay to retire from playing in 2012, but her coaching work would continue to grow. Between 2012 and 2015, Jay worked with the reserves, first as a coach and later as a manager. In the closing stages of the end of the 2015/16 season, Jay replaced Michael Foy as Coventry United Ladies First Team Manager, a position she has held and thrived in ever since. Starts don’t get much better as the Red and Green Girls lifted the FA Womens’ Premier League Plate in Jay’s first game in charge, followed by a penalty shootout defeat to West Brom in the Birmingham County Cup Final in her second game.
Jay’s first full season, in 2016/2017, saw United finish 2nd in the WPL Southern Division, reach the Fourth Round of the FA Cup, the Third round of the League Cup and again lose on penalties to West Brom in the County Cup Final. Her second season in charge has also progressed nicely, with United still in the FA Cup, League Cup, County Cup and still in with a very realistic chance of winning the title
Across her 49 games as manager so far, Jay has secured 36 victories, earning her a highly respectable win percentage of 74.5%.
CUTV's Liam Cook spoke to Jay this week to get her views on her time with United so far...
Liam - Talk us through how you got the job. When Michael Foy left the manager’s job were you eyeing up the vacancy or did it come as a surprise to be appointed?
Jay – The pre season leading in to the 15/16 season was a little bit messy to be honest. The board hired someone and Mick was coming in as the assistant, and I was remaining in the role as reserves manager. The guy that had been hired was removed from his post before he had barely taken a training session. I was invited to work with Mick at first team level, but there was a lack of clarity on what my role would be. The first team job is a job I have always wanted and I have never been shy about that. However, at that time I felt it was a bit of a token gesture for the commitment I had made to club in previous years. I wanted the job because I deserved it, I declined the initial offer and spent the 2015/16 season with the reserves. We were in contention to win the league with 3 games to go, unfortunately it never happened. The reserves season finished and the first team had 4 games left, I had a phone call to say Mick would be leaving his post. I was again offered the job, with the complete understanding that I was coming in as manager and had full say over how they would be ran.
Liam - As you took on various coaching roles during your playing career, was a career as a manger inevitable?
Jay – Yes, I think it was to be honest. I was an average player at best and also struggled to stay fit. I knew coaching and managing would keep me in the game longer than I would have managed as a player.
Liam - How difficult was it to hang up your boots and transition into coaching full time?
Jay - It was a forced move really. As I said I struggled to stay fit and it got to the point where playing on a Sunday meant I then couldn't train during the week, because it would take me that long to recover. I was fortunate enough to step straight on to the reserves coaching team following my last game as a player. So I guess I also never really had any time to sit and think about what it would mean to not be a player anymore.
Liam - What has been your highlight so far in your 49 games as United Ladies manager?
Jay - The initial game that springs to mind is the FA cup fixture we had against Oxford last season. We were brilliant. Formo scored an absolute rocket, we literally just ran at each other and there was a mass pile on. For me though it's the subtle things, it's the things you work tirelessly on that people on the outside may not see but you know they have worked or something has changed.
Liam - Any moments you’d like to forget from your management career?
Jay - I would have to say last years County cup final. Again we lost on penalties but it was the actual performance. It was so far from what we were capable of and we all knew that.
Liam - What are your hopes and aspirations for your next 50 games as United boss?
Jay - I want to see Coventry United Ladies in WSL2. We have so many positive changes happening and so many people working hard behind the scenes. I would love to be part of that and give them what we are all striving for.
Here's to the next 50 games!