“You can never have enough heads”, so Worzel Gummidge once said and nothing could be closer to the truth than the roles I currently have at Lewes. Director, co-website editor, co-programme editor and post-match interviewer. But I wouldn’t change them for the world. We all have numerous roles at the board level, all unpaid and all done because we love the club. But this season I have taken on a new role.
In his recent book, the Nowhere Men, author Michael Calvin explores the role that scouts play in modern football. These incredibly poorly paid, dedicated people see hundreds of games a season, often being paid no more than expenses, to try to find the next “Wayne Rooney”. The book, one of the finest I have read in the past year, details Calvin’s interactions with the unseen, unheard of, secret layer of football. The Scouting network. Whether it is trying to spot the next Rooney (Wayne rather than his cousin John) before anyone else, or trying to spot a weaknesses in the way a centre-back reads the game, a scout’s success or failure can often be a margin call, a gamble or even a gut feeling.
Tonight I have joined the Nowhere Men at Carshalton Athletic versus Dulwich Hamlet. Whilst most football fans will be sitting comfortably at home, beer in hand, watching Olympiakos versus Manchester United, I am at The War Memorial Ground , struggling to see what I am writing in the darkness of the main stand, as I compile a scouting report on our forthcoming opponents. With the information fresh in my head I will burn the midnight candle to get my observations onto a formal report before sending off to our management team.
It has come to something when I now get a formal nod of respect from others who tread this lonely path. I made by scouting debut some years ago, but it wasn’t until this season that it become a regular gig. I now look after “Scouting operations” in Kent, London and Essex. Sounds flash, eh? Well it is a self-awarded title but one I am proud of. Essentially whenever I have a spare evening (or a Saturday as has been the case all too often this winter) and one of our opponents are within an hour’s drive I will be there, huddled in my big coat trying to work out if the right back really is right-footed at all and whether the centre-midfielder is really a holding player or simply unfit. With every game you watch, you learn more about the game, more about how players minds work and more about the vulnerabilities and weaknesses each team has. And how desperate we all are at this level to pretend we are really making a difference. Continue reading