Memory Lane: Kitman Terry Postle was the man with all the answer for Norwich City stars
- Credit: EDP pics © 2006
No team is complete without its kitman – ahead of the 2006-07 season Chris Lakey spoke to the Canaries backroom legend that is Terry Postle
There’s an Aladdin’s Cave tucked away behind the canteen at City’s Colney training centre which is home to one of the club’s most important figures.
Terry Postle is holder of the keys to a room stacked with the sort of stuff your average football souvenir hunter would give his right arm for. There’s shirts, shorts, socks, shinpads, studs, tops, bottoms – everything a player needs to get him out on the pitch every Saturday afternoon.
It’s not just a case of slinging some crumpled bits of clothing into a bag, throwing in the mud-caked boots and heading for the game. Footballers need looking after nowadays – and Postle is the man to do it. And he’s not your average kit man either – he’s City’s very own Mr Fixit. You want a picture hanging, he’s your man; a new training board on the wall, Mr Worthington? Terry will do it. And who has the latest boot manufacturers’ catalogue? Terry Postle.
The 57-year-old is everything to all men who wear the yellow and green of Norwich City – and a few more besides.
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This summer he’s had to sort out the usual headaches that come with a change of shirt sponsor – Flybe are in, Proton and Lotus are out. And out means out. If Postle spies anything with an old logo on it, it’s tucked away out of sight. Now he’s just awaiting delivery of all the-new kit – and there will be plenty of it.
“I have to go around and make sure there is not one piece of the old sponsor’s kit laying around anywhere – you don’t want any of the players or staff walking around with it on,” says Postle.
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Postle reckons on four shirts for each player during the course of a season or, if they also wear long sleeves, then possibly eight – as the advert says, we’ll let you do the maths. Only the boots belong to the players – everything else is supplied by the club – and it’s Postle job to ensure they have what they want, when they want it.
Some might want short sleeves, some long. Some want ankle socks, some don’t. Iwan Roberts always demanded a new pair of socks for every match. And then there are the constant changes of studs.
It’s all in a day’s work for Terry Postle – a day which, incidentally, starts much earlier for him than it does for most associated with the club.
Base for Postle is Colney – where, incidentally, he’s also the handyman – so he treats each game like an away fixture.
The day begins around 9.30am.
“Most of the prep work is done on a Friday and when I get down there I have things to do,” he says. “I have a little idea of what the team will be and I can then hang up shirts and shorts and put out the personal items for the individuals. That’s all done and I then have the referee’s room – I get that organised, match ball, drinks, all the things they need. All the balls need to pumped up for the warm-up – because we have 10-15 balls flying around I like to provide all the balls. They do get lost and they’re quite expensive.
“From then on it’s getting drinks ready and then a case of waiting for the manager to come in. We all go down to his room at around 12.15pm when all the staff will decide who is going to be sub. I obviously don’t tell anyone, but I organise all the players in piles in my kit room. At 1.30pm the manager will go in, give his team talk, tell who the subs are – and I can then disappear back to the kit room and just bring in the subs’ kit and hand them out. It’s all under wraps until the manager says so.
“Hopefully there will just then be little individual items – they might need a vest, a pair of ankle socks, cycle shorts – normally I know each individual and all their needs. It’s a matter of making sure all their needs are there.
“Then while they’re warming up if it’s raining do they need a wet top? What about towels?
“Come 3pm it is making sure everyone on the staff has everything they need, the subs have everything they need – coats, bottoms, wet tops, shirts for when they go out. I make sure everyone has a bit of gum or things like that. We always have bananas and jelly babies and Jaffa cakes, there is always a supply of drink and food for them.
“When you do the job you watch each individual to see what they need.”
“I’m usually finished around quarter to six – we bring a couple of apprentices in to help put stuff into skips and we generally don’t lose much. If we have another game coming up quickly we need to get it washed and the boots cleaned.”
Postle keeps his eye on the kit before it heads off to the club’s laundry – but inevitably some goes AWOL during the season, usually to fellow players.
“The players can give their shirts away if they want – a lot of clubs actually charge them to replace them, but we are quite lenient on that” said Postle. “When we were in the Premier players obviously wanted to exchange shirts, and they still do.”
“At the end of the season the players’ sponsor gets a shirt, we always give surplus stuff to FONCY (the Friends of Norwich City Youth) and other charities then the players will usually want to keep a shirt. Some players, like Darren Huckerby, will give his shirt away more than others do. We try to keep as many as we can for players because they want them, and they want them for family and friends. When a player leaves we like to give them a shirt as well.”
Postle has his own boot room at Colney and, contrary to some reports, apprentices do still clean the senior players boots, albeit at a price.
“Normally I liaise with one of the head boys who has been here a while and we will allocate the apprentices to a pro – one boy might have two or three pros and will look after their boots for the season,” said Postle. “They do get paid for it – by the players.”
It’s not a job that Postle can do – players have tried to persuade him to do some “overtime” for them on the quiet but the kit-man always says no.
“If I do one, there’s another 20 pros who might turn round and want me to do it,” he says.
This article first appeared in the Canary Preview 2006-07 Magazine and is reproduced with permission of Norwich City FC.