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Former Carterton boy rubbing shoulders with Becks
WHILE most of us are only Californian Dreamin’, former Carterton boy Craig Harrington is actually living it.
The 29-year-old has followed in the footsteps of football star David Beckham by making his mark stateside at LA Galaxy.
Mr Harrington, who first turned out for Carterton FC at the tender age of seven, is now head coach to LA Galaxy’s Under-16 squad – the rising soccer stars of the future.
He said: “It has been an amazing experience so far; working for the top organisation in North American soccer.
“To work in such an elite environment with the best youth players around is the best youth job in the country.”
Craig has nothing but praise for Galaxy star Beckham.
He said: “David is a tremendous guy and, of course, still performing at a really high level for the Galaxy.
“He always says hello and we have chatted about England at the Euros and the Premier League this summer.”
Craig also loves Californian life. He and his wife, Alison, 31, and their 16-month-old daughter Juliet live in Orange County, a short drive away from La Galaxy’s home ground, the 27,000-seat Home Depot Center stadium.
But he admitted he missed the green fields of Oxfordshire – and his beloved Tottenham Hotspur.
He said: “I love living in Southern California and the biggest benefit is the weather.
“I miss my family and friends, of course, and also the Oxfordshire countryside and people, but mostly I miss going to see Spurs at White Hart Lane.”
Craig attended Ferndale Primary in Faringdon and showed footballing talent early on.
He said: “My football career started at Carterton Town FC when I was about seven. While I was there I joined Oxford United ’s centre of excellence and then moved to Swindon Town’s centre of excellence.”
As a pupil at Cokethorpe School near Witney he enjoyed a brief spell at Witney Town before playing for North Leigh’s youth team.
But it was while studying and playing football for the first team at the University of Kent he discovered a talent for coaching.
While in Kent, Craig also met the girl who turned his attentions across the Atlantic.
He said: “Alison, now my wife, was studying abroad from UC San Diego.
“I started travelling over to Southern California to see her, and during one visit I met some board members of a local soccer club. We developed a good relationship, and once I graduated, I moved out to Southern California.”
He added: “Galaxy has a big following here, but unlike Europe the soccer match-day experience is very much family driven. There’s no meat pies or Bovril at half-time here!
“It’s pizza and nachos and in-seat service during the game. “It is a really good family experience and the Galaxy does a great job of making soccer enjoyable for all ages and both sexes.”
Colin Maskery is director of sport at Cokethorpe School.
Colin said: “I visited Craig this summer and spent over two weeks in California, staying with his family and visiting the LA Galaxy.
“Craig is now a fully-qualified A licence coach and it is always pleasing to see the successes past pupils particularly those in sport.
“Craig showed us behind the scenes of the set up at the Galaxy, watching both the first team train and play.
“Craig has now built a reputation in the greater LA area as a coach to watch and I am proud of the experiences he gained under my coaching at Cokethorpe and that I had part to play in his
“I always knew he had the knowledge and personality to make a career in professional sport.”