Meet Middlesbrough Women's New Manager - Mick Mulhern

Last Friday was a massive date in the history of Middlesbrough Women, becoming officially part of Middlesbrough Football Club and appointing a new full time manager Mick Mulhern. Mick was the man that guided the women's team at Sunderland for almost a decade and a half in which he steered the Wearsiders from the same level as Middlesbrough Women to the very pinnacle of the sport and in the process laid the foundations for England Lionesses recent successes, with Teessiders Beth Mead, Jordan Nobbs as well as former England skipper Steph Houghton, Queen of the Jungle Jill Scott and flying full back Lucy Bronze all being unearthed and nurtured under Mick's tutelage.

Mick had moved on into roles with England and more latterly coaching in the men's game. I wondered why this job offer had been too good to refuse a return to women's football at Middlesbrough.

Q: You said in the press conference that this is a project that really excited you?

Q: Does this feel like the start of something that can really progress?
Yes that is exactly it. It is coming in at the very start of something where we can build and progress and develop. Hopefully a long term project with success in the shirt term.

Q: Does it remind you of when you went into Sunderland?
Yes it does. Only better. Working at Sunderland was great, a great club but the support that we are going to get here is completely different. The game has moved on. That's the difference, it has moved on. So, everything was great then but it is better now because it has moved on so much, there's much more they can provide. So, yes it is really exciting times.

I would have not have come back as a coach in the women's game if I didn't think it was worthwhile and something that really excited me and I think yes, it is a project worth taking on. There is no massive rush. So, I am going to be allowed to build something, rather than, one year it hasn't worked.. Bye, type of thing.

Q: That is very rare in football, isn't it?
Well, it is rare. That is the difference in the women's game and a new project. It is a case of bring given time to build something. Because that is what this is going to take it is a building process.

Q: Ben Fisher (General Manager) reeled through some of the names of players that came through while you were at Sunderland and many became household names at England and part of that new wave in women's football.
Yes but again even then going back to that we had our ups and downs. I think the first season we got promoted 1999/2000 and that is when the men's team came on board but we only stayed up one year because our success gave the players an opportunity to go on somewhere else. I lost 14 players to America after that season of staying up in the National League. So consequently the next year we got relegated. And I realised then that you have to grow your own. So, I took on the Director's job at the Centre of Excellence as well and started scouting and bringing in players, the likes of Lucy Bronze. That's where they all came from, scouting around the area and bringing them in, into the Centre of Excellence and helping to develop them. Realising, we have planted the bamboo here, it will grow quite quickly but it is not going to be ready for next week. So, it was just having the patience and building and promotion and relegation.. it happened a few times... until eventually having a solid group which is probably the group around 2009. So, that took probably about 9 years to get a group that went win, win, win. We got to the FA Cup final that year and we were beaten by the mighty, Arsenal as it was. Just. We got promoted and then that was it we got in the top league and started winning that league and eventually winning the Super League. So, the shoots were put in place a few years previously but it was 9 years before it was continued success.

So, we had had success, fail, success, fail but eventually now its built, now we are ready, now we fly. And that is exactly what happened. So, I am under no illusions it is not going to happen over night here. But I would like to build a legacy here for Middlesbrough and for the girls and women of Middlesbrough. I would like to think something solid is going to be in place so they can have a career in football. So, somebody who is reading these interviews and watching things and they are at school 12 year old, in 6 years time they could be playing for England and playing for Middlesbrough.

Q: Marrie Wieczorek goes into schools with the Foundation and she tells me how the children can now reel off the names of the England women could that soon be the case with the Middlesbrough women as well as men at the club?
Yes well you would like to think so, that is what we have to aspire to. And that is what the players here have to aspire to. That should excite them as well. It is a case of what a great opportunity for us we can develop and people are going to get to know who we are. So the future Beth Meads and Jordan Nobbs who played for me at Sunderland and are Teesside girls. But the next batch when they name those girls they are from Middlesbrough, they played for Middlesbrough and then they went on for England. That is what we want to see ultimately. If I retire from this in a few years time and I'm watching on the telly and England are playing I want to see such and such... Middlesbrough. You know that is the ultimate aim and then it is a case of yes there has been some success.

Q: Part of the chairman's ambition here is to create that pathway of hope and inspiration it was for boys but now it will be girls as well, won't it?
And that is the way it should be. It is great there is not just a boys opportunity to play for Middlesbrough Football Club but it is girls as well. It is great it is everybody. If you want to play football. There is your club. You have got a club right at the heart of the community and you have got a chance to play for them rather than think well I must go 40 miles north or 60 miles south or whatever to play your football. There is something here now and I am sure that it will also excite the girls in the outlying counties, the likes of Durham and up towards Tyneside. They will think we have got Newcastle and Sunderland but there's Middlesbrough. The men's top three, so it is exactly the same for the girls.

Q: What will it be like to actually go and perform at the Riverside.
Yes, that will be brilliant obviously for everybody really. I tend to not get carried away in all that stuff. I am always of the attitude I am there to work and then maybe enjoy it and think about it afterwards. But it will be nice. It will be nice for the likes of Ben (Fisher) and some of the girls the emotions will be riding high but hopefully I am quite calm because If I calm I am doing my job.
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