Behind the Castle: Meet our kitman
This week, we go Behind the Castle to introduce you to Malky Coull who has been the club’s kitman since 2018.
Originally from Dundee, Coull’s first big break came at Dunfermline FC where he worked as Community Coach for over 10 years, before joining the Scottish Rugby National Team set-up in 2013.
Coull joined Edinburgh Rugby prior to the 2018-19 season and, like all kitmen, has quickly established himself as an integral member of the club’s backroom staff.
We caught up with ‘Malky’, as he shared some insight on his role and detailed what a week in the life of Edinburgh Rugby’s kitman tends to look like!
How did you get into the role and what was your background before becoming the club’s kitman?
“It’s a long story of how I got into this job. I spent ten years at Dunfermline FC as a community coach, but took a massive interest in the kit side where I was in the kit man’s office a lot!
“I did a season with DAFC under-12 team, and I took over the kit side of that role. So, I would make sure all the kit was laid out correctly for the kids turning up for the games and I was really into that organising side of things – and I remember thinking, this would be a great job to get into.
“After then working for a sports manufacturer, I had a good mixture of working with professional sportsmen as well as handling kit, and then as such, the Edinburgh job actually game up in 2012.
“I applied for the job, but unfortunately didn’t get it, however a year later, the national team kit man job came up and I was invited back in for an interview for that role.
“Again, I didn’t get it, but off the back of it I was offered a role within the national team kit store and during that period I often covered for the-then Edinburgh Rugby kitman.
“Then in early 2018, I took over that role ahead of the 2018-19 season and then quite quickly, it all took off.”
What is the toughest thing about being a kitman?
“The travel can be tough, and trying to cram everything into a week can be really hard as I’m a one-man band.
“Certainly, in the Premiership and down south, they tend to have several guys running the kit department, while I watched a documentary on AC Milan recently and they have three guys doing that one role – so certainly there is a lot to take on for one guy.
“I do everything from kitting out players and coaches, getting kit out onto the pitches for training, getting the kit to the stadium or Oriam, and of course making sure everything is kept clean throughout the week.
“There is a lot of hard graft to ensure everything runs smoothly, and I’m sure the players don’t even know how much hard work goes on sometimes!
“But to be honest, I really enjoy what I do, so it’s really hard to say that anything is ‘difficult’. Yes, the travel can be tough – especially if we’re driving to Cork and back, or back from Wales on a match night – but it’s all part and parcel of the job.
What is your dealing with the coaches and performance team?
“I supply the kit that they wear every day. At the start of the season, or when a new coach starts, I get them completely kitted out so it’s all in the right size for them, bagged and initialled.
On a day-to-day basis, I’m making sure that all the relevant kit and equipment is there on the side of the pitch for them, whether that’s balls, bibs and cones or making sure that all the tackle suits are ready to go.
“It’s just about chatting to them and keeping everything ready for them. But, I’m two years into the job now, and you tend to get in a rhythm of what certain coaches need, and they will also give me some notice if they have a special drill that day.
What does game day look like for you and how much of the game do you see?
“I don’t see much of it to be fair. For a home game, I’m at the ground five hours before kick-off preparing, and for a 7.35pm kick-off I’m usually leaving the stadium between 11.30pm and midnight.
“It’s a long day. When the game starts, I’m actually back in tidying the dressing room preparing it for half-time. It’s only right that they come back into a slick changing room. All the kit will be tidied away and I’ll maybe see around 10-15 minutes of the first-half.
“For the second-half, it’s almost repeat. I sweep down the entire changing room and make sure it’s ready for full-time, while I’m always making sure the substitutes have the proper kit or jackets if it’s a cold night. Over the course of an 80-minute game, I’m pretty lucky if I manage to see 20-30 minutes.
“One other ‘task’ is checking out our Premier Sports camera in the changing room. I’m always ready to cover it up with a towel, just in case there’s some words exchanged at half-time! In two seasons, I’ve never had to do it, but I’m prepared!”
Without throwing anyone under the bus, are there certain members of the squad that are better at looking after kit than others?
“I’m not going to name any names, but there are certainly members of the squad in both the forwards and backs who aren’t the best at looking after kit.
“There are guys who you can guarantee you’ll pick their kit from the side of the pitch after training. And you can guarantee that at least once a week, I’ll get a call from one of the guys in a panic saying: I’ve not got my gym tee! Or, I’ve forgotten my rugby shorts.
“There’s always something going on with the squad. The best thing is, all our kit is obviously initialled. So I can just sit and wait for reoffenders to come to my office each week!”
A week in the life…
Coull breaks down his week during this season's back-to-back home matches against Connacht and Cardiff Blues.
Saturday 22 February
Drop off all dirty laundry from last night’s game (Connacht)
Get into the stadium to tidy up my kit from last night's game and clean the balls, making sure they are ready for Monday's training.
Monday 24 February
Pick up laundry mid-morning and start sorting it all ready for the weekend. Folding towels the right way, folding warm-up kit and putting it all in size order, sorting match shorts and socks into right sizes, hanging match jerseys on my rail ready for the next game, folding and sizing sub trousers, jackets and bibs.
Put the training equipment out for training, tidy up behind everybody during training so it’s a smooth transition off the pitch at the end of the session. Drop the dirty training bibs off at laundry.
Tuesday 25 February
Go to laundry to pick up the training bibs from yesterday.
Pack the van with all training kit, medical kit and analyst equipment for training at Oriam.
Up to Oriam and unload the van onto pitch side.
Re-pack van after the session and head back to BTM.
Finish off final piece of laundry so all is ready for Friday nights game.
Thursday 27 February
Captain's run day and tidy changing room ready for setting up for tomorrow’s game.
Get all matchday team warm up equipment into the tunnel area, hit shields, tackle bags etc.
Friday 28 February
Game day: Arrive five hours before kick-off (2.30pm).
Set up changing room with all kit needed for the players, from towel, wet top, warm up t-shirt, match shorts, match socks and of course their match jerseys.
Take all warm-up equipment out pitch side ready for the coaches to set-up the warm up.
Waiting on the players arriving and making sure I am there for them if they need anything.
It’s a busy time and no game night is the same with lots of tidying up and organising being done by myself.
Ready to leave BTM at just after 11.30pm
Saturday 29 February
Drop off all dirty laundry from last night’s game (Cardiff Blues)
Into the stadium to tidy up my kit from last night’s game and clean the balls