New Grimsby Town captain James McKeown says he’s learned a lot from previous skippers, including Craig Disley, ahead of his new role in Sky Bet League Two 2019-20.
Manager Michael Jolley made the goalkeeper Town's captain ahead of the new season earlier this week, before McKeown also signed a contract extension which will keep him at Blundell Park until 2022.
And the 30-year-old will take inspiration from previous captains, such as Craig Disley and Nathan Clarke, ahead of his first match as skipper against Morecambe at the Globe Arena on Saturday (3pm).
Speaking exclusively on iFollow Mariners, he said: “It’s the proudest moment of my career, definitely – it’s slightly different to when you achieve something on the pitch.
“Personally it’s a big thing to me, and it means a lot to me and my family.
“For the gaffer to believe that I’m worthy of helping to lead the group, because there are other leaders in the group who could’ve certainly done it.
“I think it’s important for me to help do that off the pitch as well, it’s not just the 90 minutes on the pitch – that shouldn’t change, I’ll still be the same goalkeeper, and still talk and organise.
“It’s trying to make the small changes to make a difference – doing more player appearances and getting more players out there in the community so the fans can meet different players as opposed to the same faces.
“It is a special football club, it’s a small town that cares, and I think it’s important for the lads to try and realise that, and hopefully I can help try and bridge that.
“Some people say goalkeepers shouldn’t be captains, but Craig Disley wasn’t a shouter.
“Dis didn’t tear into people. His leadership was that he was a good pro – he did it right day in day out.
“Whenever we were losing games was probably when Dis was at his best because you knew that he wouldn’t go hiding.
“And even if he was having a bad game he’d still try and get on the ball, and people can overlook little things like that.
“But if we’re having a bad game, and there’s someone who still wants to get on the ball and do their individual job – that’s leadership, that’s a different type of leadership.
“Nathan Clarke was only here for a year, but he was very good in the dressing room.
“If you did have a problem, or there were any issues in the dressing room, Clarkey would talk to people really well.
“So you try and take a little bit of what every captain has taught you. But I can’t change who I am – but hopefully that’s the reason I’ve got the role!”
McKeown said his first game as Grimsby Town captain this weekend will top off the ‘best couple of months’ of his life, after he got married this summer – but he wants all three points.
Genuinely unbelievably honoured to have captured the wedding of @1Jamesmckeown and @Chloegibbin. Thank you so much for the opportunity and I can’t wait for you both to see the end product! pic.twitter.com/o7Em8ocGFF— Liam Emmerson (@liamemmerson) June 16, 2019
He said: “It’s been the best couple of months ever– the stag do started it, and then obviously getting married was the best day of my life, especially having the kids there with us.
“Then an unbelievable family holiday, and then obviously getting the captaincy – it’s been an amazing couple of months.
“It’s been wonderful off the pitch, it just feels like I’m on a cloud!
“It will be a lovely moment to walk out, and maybe more so the home game because my kids and family will be there.
“But it won’t mean anything if we lose – as soon as the kick-off starts that’s it, it’s done.
“It will be a really proud moment, but then it’s work time on Saturday.”
And the goalkeeper can’t wait to see the Town fans in the away end on Saturday.
He said: “That’s the first thing that I say to any of the new lads – ‘Wait until you see the fans!’
“Like Bradford, what a first home game that is as well. A perfect, proper away game against Morecambe and then a really good home game, so it will be a great start.”
Watch the full interview with new captain James McKeown for free exclusively on iFollow Mariners.