Keeping the faith

Adie at work on the training ground with a young Guam goalkeeper
Adie at work on the training ground with a young Guam goalkeeper

Adie Creamer, academy goalkeeping coach at Watford FC, tells David Hennessy he had no hesitation when asked to work with the goalkeepers of Guam for their World Cup qualifying campaign. But he admits he had to find out where Guam was first

Adie Creamer, the London-Irish goalkeeping coach at Watford FC’s academy, will be aiming to help the small island of Guam qualify for the World Cup in 2018. The small island will be up against it as they take on Iran who frustrated Argentina in Brazil last year. Things have moved quickly since Adie received a call from old colleague Gary White, Guam’s head coach.

Adie tells The Irish World: “About a month ago, I got a phone call from Gary. He asked me to go out, they had two friendlies in preparation for the qualifiers in Singapore and Hong Kong and he said, ‘I’d like you to come out as a goalkeeping coach’.”

North Korea beat the Pacific islanders 21-0 back in 2005 but Guam have come a long way since then: “We did really well. Singapore and Hong Kong would have beaten Guam very easily a few years ago and this time we lost 0-1 to Hong Kong and drew 2-2 with Singapore but actually we should have won the game.

“Singapore kind of dismissed us. We dominated big parts of the game. From there, Gary asked me to be on his staff for the World Cup qualifiers.”

Did Adie have to ask where Guam was on that first invitation? “Yeah, absolutely. I had no idea, hadn’t heard of it. Gary sold it to me very quickly on the phone, he told me about what they’re doing. They’ve had a meteoric rise under him mainly because of just what he brings to it. His passion, commitment, organisation and knowledge is just extremely impressive.”

Adie with Pat Jennings
Adie with Pat Jennings

Guam kick off their qualifying campaign next month when they play Turkmenistan and India. In September, they travel to take on Iran, who qualified for the last World Cup and are top seeds in the group, and Oman.

Adie expects a fiery reception in Iran: “That’s going to be crazy, they reckon there’ll be about 100,000 at the game against Iran, they’re very fanatical and it will be a quite hostile environment. Carlos Queiroz is manager for Iran now and they’re number one in Asia so it will be an interesting test for us.

“I wouldn’t say we’re worried about them. I think it’s just we’re looking to go over there and test ourselves against them.

“We’re aiming to take some scalps in this. There’s a belief amongst the team and amongst the staff that we can do this. We can certainly ruffle a few feathers in there. We’re not there to make up numbers. We’d love to qualify for the next stage. There’s a real feel good factor around what’s happening there.”

The top two teams in their group will go through to a play-off. Iran and Australia came through these in the last world cup.

Adie meets Packie Bonner
Adie meets Packie Bonner

Like Republic of Ireland under Jack Charlton, Gary White is adding quality players who qualify to play for Guam not through birth: “There are more people from Guam or related to Guam living outside of the country then there is actually in the country. I think the population’s actually 160,000 and there’s about 200,000 in America and around the world. He’s recruited really well over in the states.

“He got Ryan Guy on board first. He played for St Pat’s but played out in the MLS as well. He was the first to get on board and other players have started to follow. Now we’ve got AJ DeLaGarza who plays for LA Galaxy and there’s another guy called Brandon McDonald who was at LA Galaxy with Beckham and was an established player in the MLS.

“What Gary White has done there is create a brand and an identity for the team so every game, before the game, the team get in a huddle and do what’s called the inifresi so it’s similar to what the All Blacks do with the haka.

“I was born and raised in London but my mum and dad are from Monaghan and Cavan. I was backwards and forwards to Ireland all through my youth and it’s stayed with me, an integral part of me. He’s tapped into that way that Ireland did it in the 80’s and looked outside the country for people who could progress them as a football nation.”

Adie’s father came from Ballyconnell in Cavan while his mother comes from Scotstown. Adie’s  maternal uncle Gerry McCarville played GAA with Monaghan during the 80’s, playing in the ‘86 and ‘88 semi-finals against Cork and Kerry. Adie himself played with Tir Chonaill Gaels, winning two senior All-Britain Championships, and captained London at minor level.

Adie’s 14-year-old son Caolan, also an academy goalkeeper at Watford, will represent London at Feile in June when his father is out in Guam for the beginning of the campaign: “He’s got a promising sporting career ahead of him and he’s very much taking on board Irish sporting culture as well. That’s his ambition, to play for Ireland.”

Adie (far right) with the Guam squad
Adie (far right) with the Guam squad

When Caolan represents Ireland, he will be emulating his cousin, Kevin Doyle.

This has been a crazy time for Adie who recently met one of his Italia ’90 heroes in addition to becoming involved with international coaching and seen his club achieve promotion to the Premiership.

The full time lecturer at Stanmore College says: “It’s been a crazy month for me. Then last weekend I went on a goalkeeping conference, I was sat with Pat Jennings and Packie Bonner who are my heroes. It’s just been a crazy month. I’m trying to keep my feet on the ground, I’m very lucky.

“I said to Packie Bonner, ‘I was 11 years old and me and my dad were kneeling down praying during the penalty shoot-out and it’s my abiding memory of my dad, running around the house celebrating, the two of us’. Then Pat Jennings, I was sat next to both of them all night. It was just a fabulous evening. I’m very lucky.”

Adie’s good pal Ronan MacManus of the BibleCode Sundays is also helping the cause by penning a song that will also raise funds for a good cause: “Yeah, Ronan and I are best pals and we were just thinking, let’s do a world cup song. That’s going to be a charitable single. AJ DelaGarza lost a son through a heart condition and he’s got a charity and proceeds from the single will go to the charity.”



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