Gary McAlister

History with County Down: 

“Well I haven’t been involved directly before this is my first year, however I coach a Crusaders Junior side and I would always head up to the Milk cup and follow how our young lads get on. It really is a great experience as a spectator because you get the sense you are perhaps watching some of the stars of the future but it is so much more special to be involved with one of the home counties. The young lads and the coaches get the opportunity to test themselves against not just the highest quality of opposition in youth football but also against different cultures and styles of play, it really is a special event in the footballing calendar.”

Most Influential Person:

Well that would have to be my Granda who told me to always strive to be the best I could be. We both shared a passion for football, and he always supported me whilst I was playing and now it is time for me to drive and give something back.”


“ Well I am currently a student at Stranmillis training to be a Business and I.T. teacher.”


“Team coach, warm up, cool down basically whatever John needs!”
How did you get involved?

“Well I met John Bailie on a coaching course about 5 years ago and we got on well. Then, not long ago a Senior Team I was playing for were taking on Portavogie and John was down at them match. We got chatting, and the Milk Cup was something I always wanted to be involved in and John asked me to come up and help out with his Premier team, and of course it was a no-brainer.”
Favourite Milk Cup moment?

“Well, this year I am very excited to see how the County Down lads from both age-groups get on in the tournament but in past years I think it is just fantastic to see the different sides from across the world. The likes of Club America, are a side who have always fascinated me. Anytime they have been over they have been a super side to watch. Also from a coaches point of view it is great to see all the different styles of play. We in Northern Ireland have a very different approach to the game from say Spanish or Latin American counties. Our game is built more on being direct and physical whereas the likes of Club America or Real Sociedad will be more technical and possession based. In the tournament, it will be all about how the home counties adapt to that. That facet of the game is perhaps what I am looking forward to most about this years competition. It will certainly not be easy for our young lads, but in Northern Ireland we are used to being underdog, and we have continually over the past number of years proved people wrong. It is something we enjoy and I am predicating a few home county upsets at this years Dale Farm Milk Cup.”

Best bit of advice:

“fundamental of all football is based on hard work. Even at a basic level any player needs to work hard, and that is advice I would always try to instil in my players.”