The realities of non-league football, where the superstar striker makes £400 a week and the Neville brothers, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Nicky Butt hold court.
Words: Jack Everitt, Subeditor: Ena Bilobrk
“If you want big time you can just go Old Trafford can’t ya”.
The thoughts of a non-league football fan can be confusing.
The task for the famous ‘Class of 92’ could not be harder. A new BBC documentary series shows how these footballing greats, used to the glamour of the Premier league, deal with the depths of lower league football, as the owners of Salford City FC.
They have the investment to turn the club around and the influence to bring in players Salford City would not normally attract.
But understanding the mind of the non-league fan seems to stretch even the skills of Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and the Neville brothers. “We just love it here. We come here whether we win anything or lose anything. No, it doesn’t matter to us.” says Jim Birtwistle who has worked the turnstiles and carried out maintenance for four years.
“Worst case it’s just going to turn into some big circus, just like these top football clubs… then it’s just a company, and we don’t want that”
The most pressing problem comes from the small group of volunteers who have struggled with the club for years. Their pain at the impending change was plain to see. A problem that could only happen in Britain. We want to keep our lovably rubbish club, our stand that is falling down and our barely useable toilets.
From the outset of the programme tension between owners and the manager was present (Phil Neville notably upset after a late arrival to training).
But manager Phil Power was equally boisterous in his response “Some of us have proper jobs, we don’t play golf all day, know what I mean?”
Rocky relationships between Chairman and their managers are commonplace. This is where the five need to learn. The relationship looked non existent and on occasion they overstepped the mark, Gary Neville struggled to stay out of the dressing room.
Despite being third in the 8th tier of English football, the most tactically aware board members in the country are not happy with the coaching and style of play.
Within months Manager Phil Power is dismissed, only half way through the season – a decision that is met with minimal shock.
You could see why. His temperament on the sidelines left a lot to be desired. he struggled to control his new, high paid player (£400 a week) Gareth Seddon, who had dropped down several leagues to play for the famous owners.
The series is set to have more ups and downs with a hard nosed management team arriving. Questions still remain as to how they will improve the youth system, relationship with the fans and will self proclaimed “fat” Paul Scholes play in an FA cup game for the club?
All through this the Man United legends are shown trying their best, with big plans for the club’s future. As Gary Neville Says:
“They’ve been doing things a certain way for a lot of years, and we’ve got to try and change something or there’s no point in us coming in”… good luck Gary.