For my latest blog, I thought I would look back at my days in non league football and some of the crazy things that used to happen.
I was manager at County League level with Winchester City about five or six years ago.
The chairman there was an ex-boxer, who was very lively and used to be a debt collector as well. He used to tell some funny stories about how he used to get his debts.
He used to stand by me in the dug-out at every game, but he got a touchline ban once and still managed to run out onto the pitch!
We were playing Havant & Waterlooville in the Hampshire Senior Cup and he raced on after we scored, despite still having a ban and jumped on the players’ backs to celebrate. After he realised what he had done, he raced back to the stands!
One thing I couldn’t get my head around in non league football was some of the players going on holiday during the season. The players had done a full pre-season and they wanted to go away during the first week of the season!
One of my players was a teacher who could only go away during school holidays. In the Easter break right near the crunch end of the season where we were right near the top of the table, he went away on a skiing holiday. He was my captain and best player!
You’re pulling your hair out, but I had to get my head around the fact that they see it differently to me.
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A similar sort of thing happened ahead of training where you have an idea of what you want to work on that night. I wanted to do work on the back four, but the only person who arrived in time for training was the left-back, because everyone else was working!
At the games themselves, the crowds were much smaller and you might only get a maximum of 1500 people watching the game.
That’s when you can hear everything they’re screaming and shouting. When you’re out at the Amex in front of 25,000 people, everything is just a blur and all you hear is background noise.
At non league level you can hear everything people are saying and if you weren’t playing well then they’d let you know about it!
We used to drive to most of the games and there were always people who would turn up late. We got a coach now and again for a big game. A lot of our games were on the Isle of Wight, so you got to mingle with the fans going there and on the way back.
Tuesday night games on the Isle of Wight were a nightmare and we often make it to the game by the skin of our teeth. Afterwards you would tell the lads not to bother showering because we’ll miss the ferry on the way home!
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