Many years ago I became involved with a local pub football team, if you could call it that. It was basically a group of beer bellied, aging and rather lazy blokes who turned out on a Sunday morning when they could be bothered. I have never been a person to do things by halves and believed that much more could be achieved with a little effort. I found myself working with the ageing accountant who has designated himself the manager and together we started to effect significant change.
The manager busied himself getting the players fit whilst I spent hours watching games on the local park to source some new talent. We put together a much improved side and began a rather lengthy winning streak. Our legend was spreading and people started to turn up to watch our games. I used this new found popularity to persuade the pub owner after whose establishment the team had been named to pay for a new kit. We changed the name of the team to something that sounded more professional but the pub’s name was emblazoned across the front of the new shirts.
Things were going well and at the end of the second season we had broken all records and been promoted a total of four divisions in recognition of two campaigns in which we had remained unbeaten. I decided that we should have a party to celebrate our efforts and that we should hand out a few awards at the event to thank the players.
Some major fund raising ensued to pay for the event. The players chipped in and we held a couple of social nights at the pub with entrance fees for the public and these boosted the pot. The team manager looked after the funds. He was an accountant and seemed the logical choice to manage the finances as well as the team. I booked a night club, ordered the trophies for player of the season and goal of the season and arranged a caterer for the food.
On the big night I turned up at the venue to find that the caterers were on the missing list, the trophies were nowhere to be seen and the club owner was demanding money with menaces because he hadn’t been paid. I searched everywhere for the manager to sort out the money but he had also disappeared. The event was cancelled and we all went home with our tails between our legs.
It turned out that the manager had pinched the money and done what is known technically as a runner. I later discovered that he had embezzled money from his firm as well and was now decidedly a wanted man. I couldn’t believe that I had trusted him and that anyone could do something so awful to their friends and a small football team that meant so much to so many people. Everything fell down like a pack of cards after that and I never got involved with grass roots football again.
Who would have thought it? Deceit and corruption in football. That would never happen in the professional game would it? I wonder what happened to those golden trophies. I think I should have received one for putting up with it all!
Article by Sally Stacey