Former Gretna and Morton FC manager Davie Irons has left football behind to join a new team – the Citizens Advice Bureau.
In a surprising career change, the 48-year-old has taken up the post of Volunteer Development Officer at Dumfries and Galloway Citizens Advice Bureau. And he is hoping to use his profile in football to recruit badly-needed volunteers to the CAB service. He said:
"Being a football manager is like being a social worker and marriage councillor at times. I was a development officer with the SFA too, so there is definite crossover between football and the advice service!”
Davie starred for St Johnstone in his playing days, and also made over 100 appearances for Dunfermline. He spent five years as player/manager at Annan Athletic, and was assistant boss at Gretna during their ultimately ill-fated rise up the Scottish football leagues. He took overall charge of the team during their only season in the Premier League before financial problems killed the dream.
He had an unsuccessful spell as boss of Morton before teaming up with old pal Ian McCall at Partick Thistle. But cost-cutting by the Firhill Park board saw him looking outwith the game for gainful employment. He said:
“Obviously after losing my job as assistant manager at Partick Thistle I needed to find something else to do. It’s like my mother said – I’ve finally got a real job!
“The CAB are a great group of people to be involved with and they’re doing a really important job. They help anyone who approaches them, and the advice they provide is free, impartial and completely confidential. When people are out of luck, that’s exactly what they need - someone who they feel is on their side. That’s what the CAB service is all about.”
All of Scotland’s 73 CABs rely on volunteers to help them give advice to the members of the public who come through their doors asking for help. New volunteers are put though an intensive training course and then mentored by experienced advisers until they feel confident enough to be able to advise the public themselves.
Davie says, “People come to the CAB asking for help on a wide range of issues. It can be financial problems, debt, housing, benefits, problems at work or rows with the neighbours – so it’s a pretty varied role.
“By volunteering at the CAB you’re not only helping people in your community, it can help you to improve your own CV. People can volunteer for a few hours a week or a few days. It depends on the local CAB and what hours they require. But it’s usually very flexible.”
While Davie’s new CAB role has taken him away from football, he still wants to stay involved in the game he loves.
“I always want to be involved in football in one way or another. It’s a game I always want to be a part of. But I’m excited about this new challenge, recruiting volunteers to the CAB.
“Though I am working specifically for the CAB service in Dumfries and Galloway, I know that all the CABs in Scotland are keen to get more volunteers. With so many people seeking advice because of the recession, there has never been a more important time to get involved with the service.
“My message to anyone out there who has ever thought about volunteering at the CAB is: Do it! You don’t need any special qualifications or experience, just a bit of free time and a desire to help vulnerable people in your local community.”
Anyone interested in volunteering at the CAB can find details of their nearest office in the local phone book, or they can apply directly through the Volunteer section of the ‘Citizens Advice Scotland’ website: www.cas.org.uk
For more information, photos or to interview Davie, please contact Tony Hutson on 0131 550 1010.