Soccer Magazine

Unsung Heroes of Football – The Non League Steward

By Stuartnoel @theballisround

Our good chum over at Redbridge FC, Adam Dennehey has nominated this months Unsung hero.

“For those of you who keep up to date with Non League Football, you should be well aware that nominations  for The FA Community Awards, presented by McDonalds have recently closed.

These awards, in their second year are a great way of rewarding and recognising people, organisations and clubs who in a variety of ways do great things for grass-roots football.

Being a ‘Non League Man’ myself due to my involvement at my two local football clubs (Redbridge FC and Barkingside FC), I thought that it would be foolish of me not to nominate somebody I know who puts in more than his fair share of time and effort at the club that I go to every week.

So that’s why I decided to nominate both club’s resident match-day steward Martin Meyers for an Award in the FA’s Volunteer of the Year Category.

After all these awards are there for people who make a real contribution at the club and Martin, at least in my eyes would be really fitting of the award.

For someone in his late 60′s, Martin puts in more time than most people at our club. In the 7-8 years that Martin has been involved with both clubs at the Oakside, his work has become invaluable to the cause and his presence at games helps make matches run smoothly without any fuss.

Martin just isn’t your average non league steward, as he does lots of odd-end jobs for the club in the week running up to a game. Whether it be going behind the ground to look for lost balls, or checking up on the ground in the week, putting up fixture posters in our community to advertise games at the club, Martin does them all with a smile and with a friendly attitude as well.

Although they are not glamorous jobs, Martin does them with great pride which is great to see. That’s a real added quality of the man, as he does all these jobs as a volunteer because of his love for the game.

In an era where younger people are getting criticized for not helping out in their community, Martin’s efforts go unnoticed which is a great shame, as more people should act and behave like him

Both Martin and his sob Rob – who has become the official historian for our tenant’s Barkingside – are part of the furniture at the Oakside and in my 4 years in being involved with the club, both have grown to be good friends of mine.

Unsung heroes of football – The Non league steward
Martin in particular personifies deep-down what is good about football, in that he is just somebody who just wants to be part of the club. In some cases where people at higher levels of football would want money/attention brought to themselves, Martin just gets on doing what he does best and that’s quietly going about his work with a great sense of pride.

Funny story about the picture above there which see’s Martin holding a ball which burst during a Barkingside game this season. It was quite a funny night when it happened as ‘Side were leading 3-0 in the first half of their 7-0 FA Vase replay win over AFC Dunstable.

Moments after the ball burst, one of ‘Side’s players by the touchline snarled that the ball had been ‘useless’ as he handed the ball over to Martin by the touchline. Martin however disagreed with that view as with the scoreline in ‘Side’s favour, the ball had ‘done it’s job brilliantly so it”s not been useless at all.’

It was a point raised which nobody supporting ‘Side was going to argue against, and one that I had me and several other fans laughing at!

Although he’s a big Arsenal fan along with his son Rob, I’ve always got the feeling from him that deep down there’s no better place he’d rather be on a Saturday than watching a game at the Oakside, 10-15 minutes away from his house.

To be fair to Martin though, he doesn’t always get the chance to watch a game through properly as he’s always got someone around the ground that he needs to talk to and there are always balls being kicked over that he has to go and retrieve.

Saying that though, it would perhaps be more relaxing for him to go and watch the Gooners at the Emirates. After all it would be nice for him to be able to watch a game and not having to worry about doing something for a change. Nobody would blame anyone for wanting to do that now, would they?

Unsung heroes of football – The Non league steward
At Non League level even if clubs are well run and financially sound, it helps behind the scenes for a club to have hard-working people to help everything run smoothly and that’s exactly what Martin brings to the table. He is a well liked individual at the club who has become a regular as a fan of both teams and somebody who has good a rapport with players and fellow regulars to the clubs.

He is one of those ‘ordinary characters’ who if it wasn’t for his work involved, the club would worse off without him as a result. He is a lover of football and football needs characters like him involved in it to still be called ‘the people’s game’ and for the game to be celebrated like it is today.

Just like Martin, there are many people up and down the country whose great work in grassroots football deserves to be rewarded. Who knows perhaps somebody you know or even you yourself could be nominated and win the prize,”


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