Rhys Wilmot combines part-time coaching at Plymouth Argyle with policing
RHYS WILMOT is ‘loving every minute’ of his part-time role as goalkeeping coach at Plymouth Argyle.
The 51-year-old combines that with his day-to-day profession as a response officer for Devon and Cornwall Police.
It is a heavy workload for Wilmot, who made 147 appearances as a goalkeeper for Argyle between 1989 and 1992, but he finds the time to fit in all of his commitments.
Wilmot had previously coached in the Pilgrims’ youth academy before he was asked to step up to first team duties by manager John Sheridan in the summer.
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He described working with Jake Cole and Luke McCormick – Argyle’s two shot-stoppers – as an ‘absolute joy’.
Wilmot believes that, as a pair, they are the best in League Two.
He told Herald Sport: “I have loved working in the academy. That was my main focus for coming back into coaching, to pass on my knowledge to the youngsters at the club.
“But it’s an absolute joy to work with the two ‘keepers here. They are very professional lads.
“The management have made me very welcome and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.
“It’s only a part-time role. You have got to bear in mind the club’s position and my work commitments, but I can get enough work into them (Cole and McCormick) during the week, and to do the home games. I’m loving every minute of it.”
Away from his duties at Home Park, Wilmot is based at Crownhill Police Station and responds to 999 emergency calls in the north of Plymouth.
He tries to fit in his coaching sessions with the requirements of Cole and McCormick.
Wilmot said: “I take them two days a week. It might be a Tuesday and a Thursday. It varies.
“Last week, it was Thursday and Friday leading up to the game against Portsmouth.
“I work it around their needs as well. Jake was playing last Tuesday night (in a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie at Swindon Town) so there was no coaching to be done that day.
“I try to tailor it so we get in a couple of days a week to get the sharp work in.”
Wilmot took Cole and McCormick for training last Thursday and then, after lunch, started a shift as a police response officer until midnight.
He said: “It’s difficult, but the shift work element of it allows me the necessary time off to do my coaching.”
McCormick has started 10 of Argyle’s 15 first team matches this season, with Cole playing in the other five.
Cole was the regular ‘keeper for the last two seasons but has faced increased competition from McCormick this term after his return to Home Park over the summer.
Wilmot said: “I think they are the two strongest goalkeepers in the league, without a shadow of a doubt, as a one and a two – whichever way it pans out.
“Luke is there at the moment and Jake works extremely hard in training. I don’t think there will be any let up from either of them.
“I think them working as hard as they are, together, can only help both of them to keep on producing good performances.
“I don’t think either of them have been at fault this season, for anything that has gone on already results-wise at this club. They have acquited themselves really well.”
Wilmot retired from professional football at the age of 35 because of an injury and he made a conscious decision to take up a new challenge, away from the game.
He owned a pub in Herefordshire before returning to Plymouth.
That led to an invite from then Argyle head of youth coaching, Mike Pejic, to work with the young ‘keepers at the club.
“It was like stepping back into a bubble,” said Wilmot. “I noticed that more so from being out of the game.
“But once I had taken my group of youngsters for the first or second time, it was like ‘this is what I want to do, I want to pass my knowledge on’.
“I had some good teachers myself. I took a lot in from what I learned from Bob Wilson and Pat Jennings.”
Wilmot started his career at Arsenal and spent 10 years with the north London club, during which time Wilson was his coach and Jennings a team-mate.
Wilson and Jennings were two of the finest ‘keepers of the 1970s and 1980s, and in the long, distinguished history of Arsenal.
Wilmot said: “The basis of my coaching philosophy is what I learned from those two masters.
“I had Bob as my coach at Arsenal for 10 years, and I worked with Pat, who was still playing in those days.
“It was a tremendous start for me in my career really.”