For the first of our 2020 Meet the Team interviews, we’re starting at the top – with Head Coach Ryan McCluskey.

Taking over as head coach in November 2018, Ryan led the Tigers to a 4-6 record in his first season and has been hard at work over the offseason as he gets ready to lead the squad to bigger and better things, whenever the 2020 season kicks off.

Before moving into coaching, Ryan lined up at wide receiver for the Tigers in the mid-2010s as well as playing for fellow NFC1 North side, the East Kilbride Pirates.

We caught up with Ryan to find out more about how he got involved in American Football, along with stories from his playing days. What’s the story behind how you got involved in American Football?

Ryan McCluskey: My Dad and older brother Edward both played, with the famous Glasgow Lions. I started by playing semi-contact flag alongside current coaches Paul Entrican, Gary and David Hare, a long time ago in Bellshill. A few other pretty good players got their start on that team.

GT: What made you decide to play for the Tigers?

RMc: A lot of guys I previously played with were playing for the Tigers. I joined the team and was made welcome right away, great bunch of guys and ended up being a pretty good team that year

Tigers HC Ryan McCluskey on the sideline, with QB/RB Andrew Steen (Picture by Richard Lundy)

GT: Describe how you felt ahead of your first game – and how did it turn out?

RMc: I can’t really remember how I felt, as it was a long time ago… I do have one memory of the game, we had a stud RB and we gave the ball to him for pretty much the whole game, until on one play they gave me the ball on a reverse, I ran for about 40 yards before anyone knew I had the ball. Obviously I didn’t score – I wasn’t the fastest – but I loved the game after that moment.

GT: What is your favourite story from your time with the Tigers?

RMc: It came when we were playing against the heavily-favoured Shropshire Revolution. There was a lot of great players on our team that year. It ended up a very close game, I caught a touchdown pass early to give us the lead, the game went back and forth with no scores.

With minutes left in the game Shropshire drove the length of the field and got into the Tigers’ redzone. The Tigers defense stalled their drive on the first three downs, Shropshire have to go for it on 4th and goal. Their RB breaks a run to the outside and is headed for the end zone pylon when Tigers cornerback Donald Gray comes across to make the tackle inches short of the pylon, just as time runs out. Tigers win the game 8 – 0 – not the most exciting scoreline but in a close game with two great defenses it was a fun game and a good memory.

Tigers HC Ryan McCluskey dries off following a 'Gatorade Shower' celebrating the Tigers' home win over Aberdeen (Picture by Richard Lundy)

GT: What would you like to achieve in the sport by the time you hang up your boots?

RMc: Boots are already hanging up but I’d like to give back a little to the game and help coach up players, so they can enjoy the game as much as I do.

For more on the Glasgow Tigers throughout the 2020 off-season, make sure to follow the team on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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