Chris Lakey: Without people like Adam and Martyn, local football wouldn’t exist

PUBLISHED: 17:58 19 April 2019 | UPDATED: 17:58 19 April 2019

Great Yarmouth joint managers, Martyn Sinclair, left, and Adam Mason Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Great Yarmouth joint managers, Martyn Sinclair, left, and Adam Mason Picture: DENISE BRADLEY


I’m sure Adam Mason won’t mind me mentioning this, but in the context of this column, it is more than apt.

Adam, and Martyn Sinclair, are joint managers of Great Yarmouth Town, but announced during the week that they would be giving up the roles at the end of the current season.

It's been a tough one: money is pretty scarce in local football, and Yarmouth have struggled on the pitch – not that money is the be all and end all of course. It just means the less you have the more goodwill you need.

But Adam is a tough cookie, in the nicest possible way. I have had the occasional friendly email, with a read between the lines message that was more a hint than a shove: once, he wanted more publicity for the Bloaters in our weekly newspaper on the coast, the Great Yarmouth Mercury.

Gorleston were getting the headlines above us, was the gist. Explanation forthcoming, Yarmouth upped their game and, as far as their media work was concerned, improved no end.

With a metaphorical nod and a wink, I knew Adam would be watching. It was all done in good spirit, but Adam Mason was standing up for his team, his club, for which he worked so hard.

I was interested to know just how much time and effort did go into running a football club so asked Adam if he'd be willing to give me a run-down of a normal working week. Within a few minutes, I'd received his weekly timetable. Effectively, he had two full-time jobs. Saturdays alone began at 8am and ended at 10pm.

I had hoped to do a feature on him in the summer, but their decision to move on perhaps has scuppered it a little. but it'd be wrong not to mention the work that goes into sending a team out in the Eastern Counties Premier League.

Without people like Adam and Martyn, local football wouldn't exist. There are thousands of people like them all over the country, running clubs on a shoestring. Managers, back-up staff, from chairman, to secretary, to those who look after the gates, the tea hut, the golden goal tickets. Everyone.

And the players. To those who say players at that level shouldn't be paid (and I tip at this level we are talking peanuts, unless you have Olly Murs as owner) go and ask a plumber or a builder to give you an estimate for 90 minutes work on a Saturday afternoon, or an evening. Then start totting up the training and travelling. And if you are a manager, there's chasing left, right and centre to make sure players are fit, whether they can play because of work commitments, looking for new players to improve the team, doing deals with other clubs to get loan players in. Yarmouth have been particularly adept at the latter – how they got lads in from Stevenage I will never know - fantastic work which benefited the team. and took more time to arrange.

Hours and hours of work to put out a team for 90 minutes on a Saturday and perhaps midweek for the sake not just of the spectators, but for keeping alive an English tradition. Great Yarmouth needs to be represented by a competitive football team. It would be wrong for a community that size to be without one. I'm not suggesting the club is any danger, but that great effort is needed to maintain it. For towns to have one as part of their status and furniture, they have to rely on people like Mason and Sinclair putting in the hard miles for little rewards.

In a joint statement announcing their decision, the managers said: “There is only so much you can give to a club and we feel we have given our all... Those that understand our position as managers of this club will know that we have wide ranging roles which include much more than running the entire football side such as bringing in sponsorship, fund raising, and being active committee members.”

A football club in your town is as much a part of the local community as the town/village hall, pub and post office. Some are disappearing. Thanks to the hard work of football people, one is battling on against the odds.

Hand of God

When you do this sort of job and you sit watching a football match, it's hard not to have headlines going through your head every time something significant happens.

I've got one for every 'promotion occasion' – a few of which reside in the 'only in an emergency' drawer.

Here's an example: had City not got a late equaliser at Wigan on Sunday, then the home team's goal, scored from the penalty spot after Ben Godfrey was adjudged to have handled, would have become a huge talking point. Norwich City could have been denied a valuable point in their promotion bid because of a dodgy refereeing decision.

So that was the headline story and it was 'Hand of God' which was in my mind. I was pleased with it, I wanted to use it (professionally), but I knew if it went in that would mean City had lost. so thanks to Teemu Pukki for popping in his equaliser.

Anyway, Godfrey's handball. Which wasn't. So clearly it was not a deliberate act, and that is what it should be for it to be punished.

First off, it hit his leg and then his hand.

You hear it from players each and every week that players often cannot get their hands out of the way of a flying ball. They know, they were players, they can tell you what happens to your body parts when flinging yourself about. It is the most ridiculous rule in the game, pipping the yellow card for taking your shirt off to celebrate a goal.

It therefore needs changing as soon as possible, because it is in danger of becoming farcical.

I did see on social media a post from someone who really should know better which said he had seen on many occasions members of the media turning to monitors in the press box because they didn't know what had happened and then, after several viewing, decide the ref should have been better.

Well, first off, the media are working. As media, not refs. They are up in a press box a hundred yards away, or whatever, and they are not as close to the action as you can be without it being illegal. That bloke is the ref.

The media has nothing to do with Ben Godfrey's handball.

Except for the headlines of course...

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