This week we turn our attention to Kieran Galbraith, the defender is a regular at the back for Whickham having played 26 of the clubs 32 games this season in all competitions. WRITES ADAM TONES.
Kieran joined the club from rivals Bishop Auckland almost three years ago after an impressive season with Bishop – one which almost resulted in promotion.
The 24-year-old’s route into football started at a young age, Kieran watched his older brother win the FA Vase at Wembley, an ambition he would also like to achieve one day.
Kieran, who is a highly regarded centre back has fond memories of his path into football. The defender played for Gateshead Redheugh under 8’s team when he was just six years old.
Galbraith was soon snapped up by both Newcastle United and Sunderland development centres, where he went on to have trials with Newcastle’s academy.
Ryton swooped in for his signature next before making the move to Seaham Redstar under 18’s.
During his successful spell with Seaham, the club were minutes from completing a season undefeated only to lose their final match of the campaign.
The club did however progress into the first round of the FA Youth Cup.
A tie that offered Kieran a taste of professional football and the opportunity to play at Gigg Lane against Bury.
After breaking into Seaham Redstar’s first team in the Northern League, Galbraith made the move to Bishop Auckland before joining Whickham the following season.
Kieran, who has high expectations of himself but is confident in his own ability knows what he wants to achieve in his career.
The defender has been consistent all season, playing a big contribution to Whickham newfound form.
Galbraith has played in 12 of the clubs 14 victories across all competitions this season, picking up an impressive eight clean sheets in the process.
After signing for Whickham, Kieran’s Lang Jacks career did not get off to the best of starts but has since turned around following the arrival of Tony Fawcett and his team.
Kieran is enjoying playing under the leadership of Fawcett, he said: “It’s enjoyable, I’m enjoying it.
“It’s been a breath of fresh air, we weren’t training as much and training is a massive thing. That is where you learn and go over things based on who you’re playing at a weekend.
“It gets the lads together as well, the atmosphere in the changing room now is better as we all know each other.
“The training sessions are good; they are usually based on who we are playing on a weekend. His (Tony) attention to detail is good, it’s enjoyable and the training sessions are good.”
Speaking about the partnerships he has formed over the last five months, he added: “It’s about having a consistent partner at any level of football especially in central defence.
“If you look at the great centre backs over the years in professional football, the likes of Vidic and Rio (Ferdinand), John Terry and (Ricardo) Carvalho they all had consistent partnerships.
“It allows you to get to know each other on the pitch and you build a relationship from that. It’s a key part of a team, it’s one area you don’t want to mix up.
“You can see it’s working; it’s been enjoyable and there is a good balance.”
Speaking about Whickham’s form since Tony’s arrival, Galbraith added: “I feel fitter, I’ve always believed in my ability but earlier in the season because we weren’t training and we had a poor pre-season, I was unfit at the start of the season.
“But Tony’s training sessions are intense a lot of high intensity stuff, his man management is good as well, he’ll pull you to one side and let you know how you’re doing.”
Kieran believes the confidence and trust Tony has brought to Whickham will hold them in good stead moving forward.
He said: “You go game by game; we have got a few hard games against teams above us. But I don’t see why we can’t beat them or match them; we’ve showed that already.”
Looking ahead to next season, Galbraith is hoping the club can push on again, he went on to say: “I don’t see why we can’t push on next season, if we can keep most of the squad and add a couple of additions, I don’t see why we can’t push on.”
Kieran spoke of his ambitions in the game, and one target is to emulate his brother and lift the FA Vase at Wembley, an achievement which would be the pinnacle of his career.
Kieran said: “My brother has won the vase; I went to watch him when he won it, and I’ve always had that dream to play at Wembley since.
“I would love to play in the vase final, that is my biggest ambition at this level.
“The vase is the big one, the one everyone dreams of at our level and at Wembley it’s just a brilliant event.”
Whickham is not Kieran’s only club, the defender is an avid Manchester City supporter, who is regularly in attendance at the Etihad Stadium should their fixture not interfere with Whickham’s schedule.
Galbraith also enjoys going to the gym as well as squaring up to a boxing bag, a sport he enjoys watching and one he plans to learn the ropes to.
Quick fire player facts – Kieran Galbraith
Favourite Past Player: John Terry / Steven Gerrard
Favourite Current Player: John Stones
Messi or Ronaldo: Messi
5-a-side Team: Buffon, Ramos, Iniesta, Ronaldinho, Messi.