It was over twenty five years ago that my friend asked me to go to an evening game at Marston Road to help out with the ball boy duties at Stafford Rangers FC. It was my first experience of a live football match, and where better to go than my home team club. I remember it never crossed my mind that it was only a non league match. It was live football; in my home town – and it is ultimately down to that one visit that I’m still involved with the club today.
It was a case of once visited, and I was hooked. Sure, I had seen top flight football on television, and seen packed stadiums of fans, and as everyone knows we’re not close to a sell- out at Marston Road, but in my opinion you can’t compare the feeling you get at a local club like Rangers. My dad had treated me to a visit to Villa Park to watch Villa v Forest in the 80’s, and in the 90’s my best mate took me to The Hawthorns – as expected, the atmosphere in the sell out (as they were then) grounds was great – but just the crowd, the cameras, the high profile players and managers, were not enough to tempt me away from my beloved Boro’. The perks of non league football – the proximity to the pitch; the ability to walk around the ground; the interaction with the manager, players & officials – all make the visit more memorable.
Today I find myself undertaking the role of commercial manager at the club – assisting with the promotion, the sales & marketing, the hospitality, and the general day to day running of the club. In fact I’m living the dream! Daily contact with the Chairman, the Board, the Manager and the Players. Who’d have thought it – all from that one evening. Now my job is an easy one – selling something I have belief, passion and love for. For me there is only one football team in the UK worth following. It’s certainly been an ‘up & down’ experience (with yes, probably more downs than ups), but I’ve stuck at it, and I am proud of that.
My message, when choosing your team – choose local – make it count. Keep supporting the local teams – even when it starts and gets a bit chilly (which is bound to happen soon!).
Thanks for reading.
Stafford Rangers can be found on Twitter (@SRFCofficial) and also on Facebook. If anyone fancies a trip to experience Non League footy then just shout – it would be my pleasure to invite you as my guest.
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