Unpaid volunteers provide the unstinting devotion that holds Non-League football together up and down the country, says non-league football fan and talkSPORT presenter Tony Incenzo.
They don’t ask for any reward. Quite simply, these wonderful ladies and gentlemen are involved for the love of the game.
Therefore it has been a real pleasure for me to speak to a selection of clubs as we highlight the sterling work of their long-serving volunteers.
Aylesbury United FC
Aylesbury United head of communications Paul Snell said: “Legend is an overused word in sport, but there can be no argument when it is applied to Ron Schmidt. He joined the club as kit man in the mid-1980s and has now served in that role for more than 35 years. Ron has tried to retire more than once but he remains in position and is the heart and soul of our club.”
Daisy Hill FC
Daisy Hill committee member Roslyn Gray said: “Bob Naylor first became involved at 22 years old and he’s remained completely dedicated to Daisy Hill for 61 years. Any role you can think of, he’s done it; no job too big or too small. Bob is a legend to all of us at the club and within the local community. We’re so proud to have him.”
Glossop North End AFC
Glossop North End match reporter Callum Smith said: “Peter Hammond was club secretary for 38 years and is now vice president while continuing as secretary. Without Peter, more than likely Glossop wouldn’t have a club in the present day. He’s done every job possible including washing the kit and picking the team. Peter has been with us through thick and thin, including two trips to Wembley. He is a living legend at GNE and will forever remain as one.”
Hallam social media manager Ian Jones said: “Ann Holland has volunteered at Hallam for just over 60 years, holding down several roles during that period. Her grandad and father were both involved with the club when she was young and Ann would go to matches with them. From eight years old, she began helping by folding raffle tickets and collecting empty teacups. Since then, Ann has been secretary for our under-19 side, has served food to fans from ‘Ann’s Cabin’ for more than 30 years and now looks after the visiting team and guest hospitality.”
Loughborough Dynamo FC
Loughborough Dynamo press officer James Kendrick said: “Sue Pugh has volunteered at our club for more than a quarter of a century. Whether that has been cleaning the dressing rooms, running the tea bar or more recently welcoming our hospitality guests, she always has a smile on her face. Sue is friendly and welcoming so she is a big asset to our off-the-field team.”
Maltby Main FC
Maltby Main chairman Dave Watts said: “Our club secretary John Mills has 20-plus years of service at various levels. He is ever present at games, gets on with it and is one of my best friends at the club. John assisted me immensely to become chairman and I now help him as he has had some recent health issues. But he still comes to matches home and away and is the most well-known name at our club.”
John Cawthorne has fulfilled a number of secretary and committee roles. The first game he watched was a 5-1 win over Rhyl in the Cheshire League on 11th January 1969. John said: “Mossley has been a massive part of my life since I was around 10 years old. I’m 64 now. I absolutely love the match day experience and I’m obsessed with the history and legacy of the club, the wonderful setting that is Seel Park and the joy of researching and maintaining Mossley’s history.”
Albert Dudill and Bruce Bickerdike
Parkgate manager Andy Dawson said: “Our chairman Albert Dudill, 83, and secretary Bruce Bickerdike, 77, have put in a combined total of 101 years and continue to do so. Albert created the club back in 1967 and is down at the ground almost every day while Bruce came on board seven years later. Both have been instrumental in shaping Parkgate FC into a well-run community club.”
Scarborough Athletic FC
Ant Taylor said: “I’ve been the main voice for Scarborough Athletic’s commentary team for the past six years. I’ve been a fan of both the old Scarborough FC and the newer Athletic since I was a youngster. I enjoy match days and acting as a conduit for our supporters and opposing fans who are unable to attend games.”
Trafford press officer Dave Law said: “Our club president David Brown was recently presented with a 50 Year Service Award by the Football Association. David’s involvement in football started in the 1970’s at Old Urmstonians FC before joining Flixton FC in 1985. He was then a founder member of Trafford FC in 1990, remaining with the club to this day.”
Teversal spokesperson Antony Coleman said: “Kev Newton has been at our club for in excess of 30 years. Starting out as a player, he became club secretary (a role he still holds) as well as working on pitch maintenance and holding the position of youth chairman. Kev has persistently put Teversal FC first and – on many occasions – that has been to the sacrifice of himself. Not only a wonderful asset to us as a club, Kev also offers his support and vast knowledge to other teams in our league and to football officials when called upon.”
Wroxham chairman Lee Robson said: “Pat Penn, 80, has been a one club man here for 62 years. He first played for us when he was 15 as a full-back and later filled in as a goalkeeper. Pat was club secretary in late 1960s and chairman in the 1980s whilst also coaching our Sunday youth teams. He is currently club president and match day kit supremo!”
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Tony Incenzo is a reporter for talkSPORT Radio and Sky TV. You can follow Tony on Twitter at @TonyIncenzo