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Arbroath ace Michael McKenna talks up the benefits of being part-time and urges full-time stars to give it a go

McKenna believes many players would enjoy the game more if they made the step into part-time football.

Arbroath midfielder Michael McKenna.
Arbroath star Michael McKenna. Image: SNS

Michael McKenna balances a career as an electrician in Edinburgh with life as a part-time player at Arbroath.

The Lichties star often has so little time between shifts and training that he will eat his dinner in the shower.

But he could not be happier.

McKenna firmly believes he has achieved the right balance in life by starring at a high level with Lichties and ensuring he has a ready-made career when he hangs up his boots.

And he feels more full-time players should seriously consider the part-time game as a better option.

Several of McKenna’s team-mates – including captain Tam O’Brien – have opted to remain part-time ahead of more ‘lucrative’ options on paper.

And McKenna fully endorses that approach.

Michael McKenna has been a key player for Arbroath over the last few years. Image: SNS

“Too many players believe that going part-time is a something you do when your career is ending,” said McKenna, named Championship Player of the Year in 2022.

“That’s definitely not the case.

“In fact, it can sometimes be the start of your career.

“I’ve been full-time before at Livingston and it’s not always all it’s cracked up to be.

“Unless you are going to go to very top end of the Scottish Premiership at the likes of Celtic, Rangers, Aberdeen, Hearts or Hibernian then you should never rule out part-time.

“It’s quite often a better option.

“How many players are at full-time clubs and training all week without getting a game?

“Where’s the benefit in that? Where’s the fun?

“Sometimes I feel players hang onto the dream for too long. Unless you are exceptional and really stand out then the chances of making it at the very top are limited.

“So do you stay on the bench at a full-time club just to be able to tell people you are a full-time footballer?

“I know some players do.

“I remember being at Livingston and not playing and every day became a chore.

“Because football was my job I couldn’t switch off from the fact I was training day in, day out without a game to look forward to.

“At least when you are part-time you have a life away from the game.

“You can switch off and focus on your work when football isn’t working out.

Michael McKenna played full-time football at Livingston. Image: SNS.

“You can also enjoy the game more when you are away from your day job. It’s the best of both worlds.

“As a part-time player you can also plan for the future. You can get your life set up for when you finish playing.

“I know young players don’t often look that far ahead but there will come a time when football stops.

“As a part-time player you can get all the benefits of playing the game you love while making an income elsewhere.Β More should try it.”

Michael McKenna says Arbroath have ‘hardest recruitment job in football’

While McKenna feels more full-timers should see the benefits of going part-time, he completely understands the challenge that faces Arbroath’s recruitment team.

Arbroath appointed Barry Sellars as head of recruitment last October and he has been working through the club to enhance their squad.

Barry Sellars Arbroath’s head of recruitment. Image: Gareth Jennings/DC Thomson

Nine new players have arrived this summer with at least one more expected before the transfer window closes.

Midfielder McKenna added: “I genuinely think it must be the hardest recruitment post in Scottish football.

“Our club has grown so much over the years.

“Arbroath is now in a position in the Championship where it’s hard to only dip into the part-time market.

“There are some really talented players in the lower leagues but the step-up is huge.

Aaron Steele playing for Arbroath FC
Aaron Steele is one of nine new signings at Arbroath this term. Image: SNS

“A lot of us have had to learn to cope with the demands of the Championship.

“We’ve had a few years here to become Championship players. It’s not every player than can cut it here.

“We have to try and source the very best part-time players or convince full-time players to go part-time.

“That isn’t easy but I think we’ve actually signed very well in the summer.

“We’ve added players with real quality and real potential and when we get our first result the positive momentum can take us forward.”