After the best part of two decades playing in the Kildare league, Castle Villa goalkeeper Alan Proctor was given the highest individual honour when he received the league’s player of the season for 2012.
Proctor is not one normally left for words but on this occasions he was almost, only almost mind you, left speechless.
“I’m delighted to get it,” he said. “I am absolutely completely blown away by it, I couldn’t believe it. I knew Jordan (Harmon) was getting his award and I was going there thinking that would be the highlight of the night. Regina gave a bit of introduction for each award winner and there was a couple of things that she mentioned that made my ears perk up. To be honest, I didn’t even feel I was the best player in Castle Villa this year, there were players definitely more deserving than me to get it but at the same time I am delighted to receive it, it’s a great honour,” he said.
Proctor is just the third Villa player to receive the award following on from Malcolm Kirwan and Sid Hickey and is an unusual recipient in that it is rare for a goalkeeper to be acknowledged.
“I had a glance back through the roll of honour and I know there used to be a goalkeeper of the year award up until a few years ago which is probably one reason why not many goalkeepers would have won it,” said a player who made his league debut way back in 1994.
“I think it’s probably a lot to do with the fact that I am playing so long as well. I’m 18 or 19 years playing now, it’s really nice to get the recognition though. I’m very honoured and humbled to receive it.”
The award is all the more remarkable because the 35-year-old was so close to retiring after Villa had won the 2009 Lumsden Cup. Going out on a high that day after beating Liffey Celtic in a thrilling game seemed like a good idea but his love for the game drew him back in.
“After the 2009 Lumsden Cup final win over Liffey Celtic, Liam Murphy may have a picture somewhere of me literally hanging up my boots on a hanger in the dressing room in Newbridge. I gave it serious consideration at the time, there were two young lads in the goal after the game and I threw them my gloves but I can’t wait for next year now,” he said.
His manager Murphy remembers the moment that Proctor ‘hung up’ his boots and is glad that he can still call upon his services.
“I’m delighted for Alan. He retired three years ago, hung the boots up in the dressing room and everything but we just kept on at him. We’re struggling trying to get goalkeepers for some strange reason. Alan’s dedication over the years has been unbelievable. This year he has been outstanding so I am delighted for him,” said Murphy.
And now that Proctor has a new lease of life, he does not intend on stopping again anytime soon.
“I’m as determined and motivated as I was when I started playing in 1994, probably even more so. I don’t know what I will do for the next couple of months with no football, I may get the golf clubs out again.
“If I can stay clear of injury and I’m very lucky I might get a couple more years before I pass on the gloves to somebody else, it would be nice to get another few trophies under my belt before that.”
And given how strongly the team finished the season, he sees no reason why they shouldn’t be challenging for the top honours, which is in stark contrast to their relegation battle a couple of seasons back.
“There is a great spirit around the club at the moment but we definitely had a dip for a couple of seasons. The season before last, we were under serious threat of being relegated. We were finished our league campaign four weeks ahead of everybody else and we were left hoping that other teams would do us a favour. Without sounding cocky we don’t think that is somewhere that Castle Villa should be; we should be up there pushing for honours near the top of the table,” he said.
Surprisingly enough for one of the most vocal players in the league and a natural leader, he doesn’t see himself getting involved in management once he does finally decide to call it quits. Last year he was elected club secretary and he also runs the club’s Facebook page. It’s here that he sees his future, rather than on the sideline as a manager.
“I don’t think there is a manager in me. There is definitely more of an administrator in me than a manager. I looked after one of the second team games earlier in the year but it was one of the longest games I ever had in my life, I don’t think management is my cup of tea.”
When the day comes for Proctor to end his career it will be sad day as he is one of the true characters of Kildare football but he has had a terrific career, and he might not be finished adding to his medal haul just yet.