The Bees new Keeper talks exclusively to Barnetfc.com
: So Graham…Barnetfc.com
Graham Stack: You can call me ‘Stackie’. Only my mum calls me Graham…or my wife when she’s angry! [*Smiles*]
BFC: OK Stackie, it’s been a week since you’ve joined the club. How does it feel to be here?
GS: Yeah, I’m delighted. It’s been going on for a couple of weeks now. I first heard of interest whilst I was at Watford [where Stack had been training after leaving Hibernian] and I was keen to join what it being another London. I also knew of the gaffer here and the kind of facilities you have. It’s a young and hungry squad, players that want to prove themselves and do well, and it’s a chance for me to get back where I want to be – my aspiration is still to play at as high a level as possible. I want to be successful here, not just for me but for the team and the group of lads. If we can be successful here I’d be delighted! This is not a short-term thing for me at all – I want to be here for however long it takes, but I do want to help the club do well. But certainly first impressions of the set-up here is brilliant.
BFC: And you’ve had a chance to meet your team mates now?
GS: Yeah, I actually know a few of the boys from before. I’ve know [Jon] Fortune for about 6 or 7 years from when he was at Charlton and I’d played against him. I was on loan at Blackpool in the Championships when Kabz was there and I was on loan from Arsenal to Millwall when Curtis [Weston] was there too. It’s been brilliant to see them all here and having a week to settle in has been a real help too. All I’ve wanted to do over the past couple of weeks is get back into playing, which has been frustrating not being able to do that, but I’m delighted to be here and be back training.
BFC: As someone who is as experienced as you, does it make that much of a difference to know people already when you come into a club, or does your experience mean you’ve seen it all before and just get on with it?
GS: It makes more of a difference as a youngster lad when you turn up and you don’t know anyone – the shy ones sometimes sit in the corner and don’t want to interact. But as you get older you become more comfortable to speak to people anyway, and the younger lads do talk to more experienced players – ask their advice, etc. But I’m fairly open anyway. I’m happy to talk to the younger lads and get to know people. As Goalkeeper you need to communicate with your teammates, know who they are, what position they play in, how they like to play, for example. But since I’ve arrived the lads here have been great.
BFC: Looking back over your career, you’ve played with clubs including Arsenal, Reading, Millwall, Beveren, Leeds Utd, Wolves, Plymouth, Blackpool and Hibs. What can your experiences at these clubs contribute to your time at Barnet?
GS: [*Thinks*]…Well, I’ve been in the game a long time and been part of some successful teams. Been promoted to the Premiership with Reading, been promoted to the Premiership with Wolves, won the Premiership and been involved with ‘The Invincibles’ [of Arsenal], played in Europe with Millwall, played in Europe with Hibs, got to a Scottish Cup Final with Hibs, been in a relegation battle with Leeds…the only thing I’ve not experienced is the Play-Offs…yet! [*Smiles*] I’ve only ever played at the top leagues, with the lowest I’ve played at being The Championship. I’ve not even played League 1 before! For me to come to League 2 is new to me, but it’s something that I’m not afraid of doing. Some players tend to think they are better than some leagues or that they should only be playing in The Prem, but as far as I’m concerned you’re only as good as where you are! The only thing you can do is go out there and make it happen and prove that you are good enough to be at whatever club you’re at and that’s what I want to do here.
BFC: We have quite a young side here, so what can your experiences add to the team?
GS: Well, I wouldn’t say I’m an ‘old head’, coz at 30 I’m relatively young for a Goalkeeper. But one big strength is my work ethic – I work extremely hard, both on the pitch and in training and in the gym also. I like to encourage a lot of the younger boys and I’d like them to see me as someone they can come and talk to. I’ve also done my UEFA coaching badges [B License and Goalkeeping License] so I have those qualifications as far as that is concerned. But I’m quite a bubbly lad – what you see is what you get – I like having a laugh, but at the same time as soon as I put on the gloves it’s all business. And I don’t like getting beat! So I hope that could rub off on one or two of the younger boys that would be good.
BFC: What are your aims for the season – for the team and yourself?
GS: [*Thinks*] Firstly, to play on a regular basis. To have a good cup run, regardless of what cup that is; if you have a good cup run it is a nice distraction from the league. It’s a completely different animal, the cup and the league. As I said before, I was part of a great cup run with Hibs where we got to the Scottish Cup Final, which was brilliant. There’s a real buzz around the city and within the group, and it takes your mind off what was going on as far as the league was concerned. Also, I don’t know how far off a Top 10 finish will be for us, and it’s still very early days, but that would be something to aim for. I know that the last 2 or 3 years the club has struggled, so hopefully we can get over that and try to bridge the gap this year and try to get as close to that Top 10 as possible. That’s got to be a team target. Personal targets? I’ve got a figure in my head of games and clean sheets that I want to keep, but I’ll keep that to myself for now [*Smiles*]…in case I don’t achieve it! But you have to start every season with your own personal goals and targets and also strive to reach targets as a group as well. If everyone’s singing off the same hymn sheet and aiming in the same direction we can become a success.
BFC: Thanks Graham.
.Not a problem [*Smiles*] Stackie!: GS