We caught up with Kendal Town FC‘s new Captain, local lad Darren Nightingale ahead of their recent Cumbrian derby game against Workington Reds on 27 Dec. Our interview was shared in their match day programme. Workington AFC won 3-1 on the day in a great showing of Cumbrian footy. We look forward to catching up with more players at KTFC and other sportspeople from around our county soon.
1. What’s the best thing about being a football player?
Being a local lad playing for your local team, it’s the pride of wearing the shirt and playing for the club. Doing it for the fans, doing it for the badge. I’m the only local lad on the team, and I am really proud to play for my hometown.
2. What else do you like about playing for your hometown?
Apart from the total pride, I actually really love getting feedback and being able to talk about matches in the pub with fans. I like that connection with my town and club. It can be funny, actually my apprentice comes to every match and he always gives me honest feedback on a Monday morning!
3. Which sports icon has influenced you the most?
It pains me to say it as an Everton fan, but I really look up to Jordan Henderson. I Captained for the second half of the recent match and Jordan Henderson’s captaining style stuck in my head. His motivational speeches are really encouraging and I like how he speaks to the players, how he’s positive and that even with all his success he’s stayed humble.
4. What’s your training schedule like?
We train Tuesdays, Thursdays and have a match on a Saturday but we also have gym work in between. We get set different challenges by the coach like 10k runs, weights or different things and we have to post our results on the group chats. It’s good fun and keeps us competitive. I try to do something every day, if I can’t fit it in at night I’ll get up at 5:30 to fit something in, staying healthy and fit is important to me.
5. Do you have a special routine or superstition before you play?
I don’t think I’m too bad to be honest, but I do have a set way of doing things. When I get into the changing rooms, I make my electrolyte water bottle before I listen to music for about 15 minutes and get into the pre-match vibe with the lads. Then I change into my kit and I always put my left sock on before my right and I always put my shorts on before my socks, I’ve done that since I was about 16 and I wouldn’t change it!
6. What do you do with your time off?
I’m pretty busy but when I get down time I go and practice at the pool and snooker halls as I play in the leagues and it’s good to catch up with my mates and local club fans too.
7. Who’s the biggest joker on the team?
It’s gotta be Sam Braithwaite, he’s just a really naturally funny guy and he’s great to be around. He keeps everyone’s spirits up.
8. It’s been great to see KTFC engaging more in social issues recently, as a local lad do you think it’s important for you to lead from the front on these?
Yeah as a local player I think it’s important to be aware and to take action, especially for the younger players and fans. What they see us caring about matters.
9. Taking the knee got lots of press coverage, do you think it’s helping? What more do you think could be done to tackle racism in the game?
It’s been up to clubs like ours to decide on this but I think it’s helping raise awareness. I think it should be a league initiative so all clubs do it. I also think having training tops like the Kick It Out tops would be great for us to wear when we’re warming up and stuff. Also, I really loved when the Junior Team walked out on the pitch with the Widnes team for their game, it’s something I think we could do more of across the leagues. Lead by example, get involved and support younger people.
10. We’re trying to make Cumbria the UK’s first anti-racist county, somewhere that’s proud to say that all forms of racism aren’t welcome here, what would you like to see the most as a result?
I don’t like racism but I do hear it occasionally in town and it’d be great not to hear that kind of stuff in my hometown because I’m really proud of where I live and play.