Race loving life as Maltby chairman

Dog-loving Maltby Main chairman Wilf Race, who is aiming to break a world record, is a rare breed. He is one of few former managers who have become a club chairman.

Maltby Main are attempting to break a world record for the number of dogs at a Non League match next week when title-chasing Pontefract Collieries visit.

One hundred dogs is the target, on a day that could see Maltby clinch their highest placed league position since the 1980s.

Achieving both aims would round off an excellent fourth season for accidental chairman Wilf Race, who has served the club twice as manager and also as director of football.

Race is a rare breed himself as he is one of few former managers who have become a club chairman after hanging up their tracksuit.

Passion and love for Maltby and Non League Football drove him to accept the role.

“When I was asked to be chairman, it was something I had never considered,” says the 59-year-old, a former operations director in the Steel industry, as he reflects on why stepped up to be Maltby’s chairman in October 2014.

“But you go home and think ‘hold on, I run my own business, always held senior and responsible jobs in my working career’.

“So those same principles you adopt in life like managing finances or managing people on the shop floor, they are the same skills you want in a chairman.

“So I thought ‘why not’? I know my way round a spreadsheet.

“If I’m being honest, did I want to be chairman? No. But did I want this club to be unguided? No. I have reached a point in my life where I am quite fortunate because I don’t have to work so I have got time what I give.

“You hear managers say they are at seven days a week. If they’re not watching games, they are talking to players. It is the same for chairmen and it helps engage my brain and keeps me occupied.

“Non League football is a massive part of my life, it really is and I also think because I have played and managed at this level, I have something to offer.”

Pete Whitehead (Handsworth Parramore), Jon Miles (Glasshoughton Welfare), Kevin Allsop (Nostell Miners Welfare) and Pete Schofield (Worsbrough Bridge) are also in the exclusive club of ex-managers who have swapped the dugout for the boardroom.

Race gets stuck in. Last year he did a 50-mile bike ride from his village Conisborough to York to raise £1500 for the club.

On a match-day at Muglet Lane, he can be seen doing different roles from welcoming visiting officials to selling raffle tickets, alongside the club’s hard-working band of volunteers.

Race admits that during his playing days, being a chairman would have been the last thought in his mind.

“When I was playing, I didn’t know what a chairman was,” he says.

“The only bloke I connected with when I was playing was the manager. I didn’t know who the chairman or vice-chairman was or where the funds were coming from.

“I never imagined myself as a chairman of a football club selling things like raffle tickets, but I absolutely love it.

“Even if the chairman’s job hadn’t come up, I would been still around in a role because I love Non League Football and Maltby.

“I can’t wait for Saturday morning to come, that’s how much I love it.”

Maltby Main chairman Wilf Race. Picture: The66Pow

Wilf Race and two friends cycled to York last year to raise money for Maltby Main

Wilf Race with some of the hard-working Maltby Main volunteers

Parkgate chairman Albert Dudill (left) gave Wilf Race his first chance as a NCEL manager

Race was born in Bishop Auckland in the North East before his family moved to Denaby when he was five as his father worked in the coal industry.

The Doncaster-based Maltby chairman worked in the Steel Industry and also ran a property company during his working days.

His playing career took in the likes of Mexborough Town, Barton Town, Denaby United, Selby Town and Crookes before a final furlong at the now-defunct Mexborough Main Street.

It was at Main Street when his managerial career began, and like the chairman’s position at Maltby, the leap was unexpected.

After Main Street, Race served Parkgate (as first team manager, second team manager and first assistant manager in different stints), Maltby Main (twice) and Hallam.

“I got thrown into management,” Race admits. 

“I ended up finishing my playing days with a team called Mexborough Main Street that used to be the best team in the County Senior League.

“One day the manager packed in and pretty much like I got the chairman’s job, they were looking round ‘thinking who can we chuck this coat at’?

“That’s how I started. I thought I’d give it a go and see how it went. People think I’m quite animated and passionate about my football now, but you should have seen me in those days.

“I’ve served my time in bans and I was a very heart on your sleeve manager and I used to get the best out of my players. If they weren’t going to give 100% then they knew it wasn’t worth coming.

“I was a shouter and a motivator. I’ll leave other people to judge whether I was a good manager, but I never took a team down and I always operated with teams at the sticky end of the league.”

Being a manager who worked with limited resources is a handy skill-set for the chairman of Maltby.

Although Maltby do pay players, it is a low amount when compared with other teams. The club’s joint managers Mark Askwith and Scott Mason, plus John Crossland have pulled off a miracle by guiding them to fifth spot with three games to go – especially considering they only took charge at the end of July.

Race admits financially the league is really difficult now compared to when he managed and hailed his managers for their efforts.

“I’ve played at this level, managed at this level and apart from the one season I had at Parkgate with Doug Shelley and we finished second to Farsley Celtic, invariably I have been involved with the likes of Parkgate and Maltby where they never chucked money at it,” Race says.

“A good manager going back ten or 15 years could keep a side in this league with no money or relatively little money. It has moved on such a lot. You’re probably aware of some of the figures and it is scary. Some of them are crazy.

“Ten or 15 years you had a fighting chance because you weren’t the only team because with no money.

“We have done really well, but we have worked really hard over the last few years to make sure we can have a players’ budget.

“It is not the best budget in the league, but it is a start. Is the money we are paying out justify being in fifth position? No. We have massively punched above our weight.

“The managers deserve a massive amount of credit. What they have done from when they came in and to the business end of the season and the fact they have got our safety wrapped up, the only remit we gave them, is remarkable.

“The season is not over for us because we still want to finish in fifth, which would be the club’s best position this century. You have to go back to the 1980s for a higher finish.”

If someone had suggested Maltby would finish in the top seven at the beginning then most would have said that person was barking mad. Well, it will be Maltby who are barking the loudest on April 28th. 

You will be able to read more about Maltby’s world record attempt next week.

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