'They're my support network' - Hibs boss opens up on family's long-awaited arrival in Scotland

Monty ready for a better work-life balance with wife and kids at home
One of the lads - but Monty is glad to swap his coaching buddies for proper home life.One of the lads - but Monty is glad to swap his coaching buddies for proper home life.
One of the lads - but Monty is glad to swap his coaching buddies for proper home life.

Three blokes working 12-hour days in a tight-knit unit, then heading back to their shared home for more shop talk and, by way of light relief, discussions about the cooking rota? The living arrangements for the Hibs coaching staff, during those first couple of months in Scotland, had all the potential to make a great sitcom.

And Nick Montgomery can certainly laugh about it now, shaking his head at the memory of returning from all-in experiences at the Hibernian Training Centre - only to spend the evening watching more football with assistants Sergio Raimundo and Miguel Miranda. Comedy gold just waiting to be mined, you might think.

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Yet here’s no doubt that the arrival of his family last week brought a different sort of joy to the house.  After ten weeks away from wife Josie, 12-year-old twins Chloe and Lea, as well as four-year-old Eva Mae, Monty was thrilled to be reunited with his own personal support network.

If he won’t be working any less hard than he did during his first hectic spell at the helm, the gaffer will now be forced to become dad – and switch off from football - when he goes through that front door. As any good sports psychologist will testify, that down time is often when the brain does its best work.

“The family arrived on Friday, the day before the Dundee game, so they had a couple of days’ worth of jet lag, with the kids up at three, four in the morning wanting food and feeling wide awake!” said Montgomery. “It’s nice for them to finally be here, get them settled in and ready for Christmas. It makes a massive difference to me, having them here. That is my support network, my wife and my kids.

“When you need to switch off, it’s a really hard thing to do in this job. But the best way is to have your family, spend time with the kids. Not having that for ten weeks was hard. Finally being back together is really nice.

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“When we first got here, I would come in around seven, seven-thirty in the morning, then wouldn’t leave until seven or eight at night, because I’d been watching the academy boys. Sometimes, as coaches, we’d stay until nine to watch the 18s play in a six o’clock kick-off.

“So there were long days and early mornings, getting to know everybody, putting structures in place – scouting, video analysis – and working with everybody to set the wheels in motion with the way we wanted to work. It needed to be done and it takes time. Selfishly, because that needed to be done, it was good to have nothing that I was rushing home to – except Sergio and Miguel!

“You definitely need that little bit of respite you get at home, one hundred percent. You have to be able to switch off and refresh from everything that’s going on, as well as getting a bit of exercise, going to see a bit of Edinburgh, get out and get a real feel for the area we’re in, familiarise yourself with stuff. The one thing we’re really familiar with is HTC. I think we know every room, every corridor, every blade of grass and everyone who works here.”

Situated in a quiet corner of East Lothian, the home away from home provided by Hibs will certainly feel a little different now that the Montgomery girls have replaced former special forces operative Raimundo, with his love of hospital corners on his neatly made bed, and goalie coach Miranda. Seriously, how did Hibs TV not turn that into the funniest reality show of the year?

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“I lived with Sergio and Miguel for two months before they moved out to find places where they can stay,” said Monty. “So I only had a couple of weeks before the family arrived – just enough time to clean the house and get the beds made.

“Living together with Sergio and Miguel? Yeah, it was good. We took it in turns to cook. But generally we would work on football here – then go home and watch more football. It was like 24 hours of football every day …”

As Montgomery points out, that fully immersive experience at the training ground, taking in every session and game he could, was probably necessary for a new boss trying to get a grasp on the job. There was plenty to be done. Not least on the human side of a business that occasional gets overlooked.

“I really like to get to know players, their situations, and get to know them as a person,” said Montgomery, reflecting on the important groundwork done during those first weeks. “I think that’s really important because everybody is different – and the only way to get to know them is by having conversations, either one on one or in a group session.

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“The 10 or 15 who aren’t starting, they’re the ones you need to communicate with more, obviously. You need to make sure everybody is ready for when they’re needed. Part of the job is to get to know everyone as well as you can.

“It’s really important that they feel like you’re invested in them. Everybody wants to feel loved; everybody wants to feel wanted – and feel part of the team.”