Management is not easy by any stretch. That’s what I have found out from managing two fundraising matches in the last three months.
My record may read two wins from two, but there’s far more to it than turning up on a match-day. Considering how stressful it was getting a team together for both matches, imagine what it is like for the real managers in the Evo Stik and NCEL, some of who operate on a zero budget.
Coaching badges in Non League Football are all well and good, but a good contacts book is essential. If you don’t have many players’ numbers in there then you’re fighting a losing battle straightaway.
The first game in August – the Ralph Backhouse Memorial Game – saw my team of Garforth Town Legends thrash a local side 11-2. With heavy-duty players like Nick Black and Jack McCarthy, we were always likely to win. That was the easy part.
Managing the team leading up to the day was difficult as the game was sandwiched in between the Evo Stik League’s Bank Holiday schedule of games on the Saturday and Monday. It meant seven or eight players were ruled out, forcing me to delve further into my contacts book to pull some players in at short notice.
Stress levels hit the highest point on the night before the match because of the worry of players dropping out. I had little sleep and my phone must have gone ten times during the following morning. There was always the dread when it beeped. Two actually did drop out. Fortunately we still had a sizeable squad to cope.
A few days ago, I returned to the dugout to lead a side to help raise funds for an organisation in Garforth. Again the stress levels were up and the contacts book came in handy as our two best players – one the match winner – were only recruited a couple of days before.
For the first time in five years, I also donned my boots – despite being totally unfit. After missing a penalty (which was brilliantly saved by the goalkeeper) and several other chances, it is safe to say I will be sticking to managing in future. Luckily, after being 1-0 down at half-time, we stuck to the game-plan and fought back to win 3-1.
But spare a thought to the manager in question when you’re next telling him that you can do a better job. Think about how much pressure he is under, regardless of the outcomes of matches.
The comments made by Selby Town chairman Ralph Pearse last week about a small minority of referees certainly raised a debate.
There were even referees disagreeing with each other in the comments section over whether they should buy raffle tickets.
Addressing one point made in the comments section ‘as regards the pay it’s not a good wage for the hours that are put in’.
This may be the case, but the majority of semi-professional clubs do not swim in tons of money. Such comments are slightly disparaging towards the unpaid volunteers who keep the referee’s dressing room clean and tidy and fulfil all the other jobs that need doing. Non League Football is not about making sure referees earn decent money. I don’t think an unpaid volunteer thinks ‘oh those poor referees, they deserve more money for their work’ after every match. A referee gets paid for a few hours work on a few different days. Some volunteers work over 80 hours a week at their club without payment.
Certainly in midweeks fixtures, a lot of NCEL clubs do not make enough on the gate to cover the fees and expenses for all three officials.
So it is hardly surprising that Ralph is upset about referees refusing to get a pound out of their pockets when one of his loyal band of volunteers has tried to sell a raffle ticket. Everyone in Non League Football should have the attitude of ‘we’re all in this together’.
If you’re a referee and you feel you shouldn’t buy a raffle ticket, put a pound in the tin and tell the seller not to give you a ticket. That is a simple way round it.