Coaches' Corners

My interest in place and space has been accelerated by the emergence of open commons spaces at the University of Canberra. This interest has been focused in part by my fascination with the spaces coaches create to discuss and share ideas.

Whenever I think about coaches’ spaces I think about the Boot Room established at Anfield. I noticed that Kenny Dalgleish is keen to reinstate the Boot Room. Stephen Kelly (1999) discussed the Boot Room in detail in The Boot Room Boys. He represents this material in his 2009 PhD. Stephen Kelly says of the Boot Room:

This was the venue, the workplace and the office for certain members of the coaching staff of the club. In essence it was simply a room where the players’ boots were stored but over a period of time it also became the room where the coaching staff would gather to relax and where meetings would be held. With time it took on a mystical aura as much of the club’s success was attributed to its personnel and operations.

Stephen Kelly notes of Bill Shankley that:

it was to be Shankly’s work with the boot room staff that was to be his principal legacy. Each member of the staff had a particular role to play; Shankly was the leader and motivator, Bob Paisley was the tactical expert, Ronnie Moran was the disciplinarian while Joe Fagan acted as the link with the players. Subsequently, as one manager retired, each member of the boot room stepped up the promotional ladder with a new person usually being added to the staff at the lowest rung. This familiar style was to suit Liverpool well up until 1985 when they broke with tradition by appointing a manager outside of the boot room.

The Boot Room was demolished in 1996 to make way for a Press Room for the European Championships.

I returned to thoughts of the Boot Room this week when I heard a remarkable interview with Iggy Pop in a completely different context. Radio National broadcast the program Iggy Pop – The Real Wild Child:

Following on from Iggy Pop‘s recent Australian tour, Robert de Young traces the life and work of this rock icon, widely regarded as the godfather of punk. He traces Iggy’s historic performances when he and his band were performing wild and aggressive stage shows in Ann Arbor and Detroit Michigan in the late 1960s, and then in New York, years before the “punk” movement began in Britain in the late 1970s. When rock journalist Lillian Roxon saw Iggy and the Stooges perform at her local hangout Max’s Kansas City in New York in 1970 she declared that Iggy Pop was aggressive and pugnacious and that rock and roll was not dead but beginning to happen in a new way. This program features Iggy Pop together with interviews with Alice Cooper and Lee Black Childers, and includes live and studio recordings along with rare archival material.

The Radio National program gave a fascinating insight into Max’s Kansas City as a meeting place and a performance space.  It was a club that had spaces within spaces. The backroom was for an invited group of artists, poets and writers. Andy Warhol observed that:

Max’s Kansas City was the exact spot where Pop Art and Pop Life came together in the 60s –teenyboppers and sculptors, rock stars and poets from St. Mark’s Place, Hollywood actors checking out what the underground actors were all about, boutique owner and models, modern dancers and go- go dancers — everybody went to Max’s and everything got homogenized there.

For the last decade I have been working to develop Coaches’ Corners … places to meet and discuss coaching. I did have the Anfield Boot Room in mind during this time. Now I need to synthesise this concept with the atmosphere at Max’s and the opportunities created by Commons’ spaces.
Sharing insights from Coaches’ Corners can take many forms including oral stories and the INSEP lettre électronique de l’INSEP aux entraîneurs. This post is an attempt to share these ideas too.
Photo Credits
The Changing Room
Max’s Kansas City


  1. […] I had the opportunity to take part in a tour of the St George’s Park Science and Medicine facilities this morning. There is a YouTube introduction to the whole of the St George development. This is a David Sheepshank’s introduction to the facilities. These are some of the pictures I took of the facility. The tour encouraged me to think even more about the connections between place, space and learning. […]


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