Tom Snee, Press Officer of the Evostik League gives us his lowdown on his Non League season.
For me, the football season began when I heard the Evo-Stik League was advertising for a Press Officer. At the time, I was slogging back and forth on public transport every Saturday from my family home in Gainsborough to Howden via Retford – all for a few afternoons of unpaid work for the Press Association.
As soon as I got back home on the 2nd October (still remember the date), I fired off an application and before I knew it I had the job and was thrown in the deep end dealing with media enquiries regarding the glut of postponements in December and January, and the subsequent fixture pile-up it caused.
Newspaper and radio interview requests were the least of my worries, as I spent much of the early months dealing with everything from irate fans to club managers screaming down the phone at me (no names mentioned, of course).
One lesson the role has taught me is that you are never immune from contact as a press officer, because mobile phones, email and Twitter have made both the league and myself easily accessible 24 hours a day.
While that does mean you can never quite switch off from work, I can’t really complain as I’m in a job that I love doing.
I am in an unusual situation as I follow three non-league clubs very closely. As my hometown club, Gainsborough Trinity have a strong hold over my emotions, although most of my conscious childhood was spent watching Brigg Town, for whom my Dad played and picked up an FA Vase winners medal with.
In recent years, FC Halifax Town have stolen the bulk my attention after they gave me my start in the media game and hooked me on their infectious ambition. To see them being successful again this year has been arguably the highlight of the season for me, particularly given the long illness and untimely passing of their assistant manager Trevor Storton – a gentleman of the game if ever there was one.
Working in “official” media, it is tough to hide how you really feel about how your team is performing. Fortunately for me, I’ve found a happy medium with working for a local website in Gainsborough People, as it has given me the chance to really lay into an underperforming Gainsborough Trinity side – particularly as they should be doing much better on a budget that should indicate possible promotion rather than a relegation dog-fight.
On the other hand, it has delighted me to see the success of the underdogs at Brigg Town, who produced a fourth place finish out of nothing other than fantastic team spirit and a fine manager in Steve Housham. Coincidentally, Housh has joined Trinity as Football Development Manager for next season, which should improve them massively going in to 2011/12.
My own experiences of 2010/11may have been twisted through a media and public relations prism, but trust me; even journalists go through the same emotions as every other football fan out there.
Tom Snee can be found on Twitter here.
Damon Threadgold is one half of the fantastic website The Real FA Cup. Despite their name they actually spend most of their time propping up the bar at various Non League grounds around England, sometimes with ourselves. Here are his views on his Non League season.
It’s a few years since I swapped the same bi-weekly train journey to Ipswich Town for a random selection of journeys to, well, random places. This year it turned out to be an early trip to bucolic Arundel to watch Father Jack be a lino, and a great one at that. Jonathan Haggart’s cheeky self-inclusion on the Glossop North End’s team sheet was fractionally funnier than listening to me try to tell the BBC Non League Show what was going on at Kingstonian v Margate while those noisy, inconsiderate K’s fans walked past. They were great, best fans of the season. That was when I realised, with some surprise, that I was watching my first live penalty shoot out in 30 years of watching football.
Woking’s monstrous stand saw us looking down on the recently un-retired Mauricio Taricco getting sent off for Brighton, obviously, amid the autumnal smoke of the season’s first vivid flares. We discovered that Carshalton housed the best pub in the South East, The Hope, who knew!? In the autumn we had a cheesy but close encounter with the actual FA Cup in a pub in Sutton. No, really, we did, we have photos of Ray Stubbs to prove it. Dover kicked off the big Cup shocks by boshing the Gills, Brighton pooped on the Hornets and then Alan Lee scared the bejaysus out of Arsenal. FC United & Hythe Town created our favourite Cup fairytales and Harlow Town fans nearly topped the K’s by entertaining us with sparklers.
Our very own, slightly adopted, Dulwich Hamlet then made a daring raid on the Ryman play offs, snuck in, threatened to win the final and then went all Dulwich on us and thre away a 3-1 lead. Whitley Bay topped it all off with a record breaking Vase final so, fittingly, our season ended at Wembley stadium, just like every season should. For everyone. Not bad, really. Hope some people enjoyed hearing about it.