it’s not about the
team on the pitch.
As you may have already
guessed it’s not going to be about those playing on the pitch it will be about those off it! This is the first in a series of exclusive interviews Adam May will be doing for CLARETfication! The interviews will be with many of the people involved at Chelmsford City Football Club albeit on a day-to-day basis; on match days; or as we see it making that important contribution towards the running of the Football Club many of which, are un-paid volunteers. We decided that Adam’s first interview should be with Paul Roberts, Head of Security
at Melbourne Park. At the time of the interview Paul and Judith were heavily involved at the Football Club especially on match days with the security side of things. It was our intention to publish this interview in Issue Two, which is due for publication just before Christmas. Unfortunately, Paul and Judith decided to throw a spanner in the works! They decided to resign and concentrate more on all things ‘social’. This meant our original plans were now scuppered. If we had stuck to our plan this article would seem as being a bit dated. However, as a very special ‘thank you’ to the Robert's family and as further recognition of all of their hard work they have done for the Football Club over the last 6/7 years we decided to go-ahead and publish it as a one-off CLARETfication! Special.* So here for you to in all it’s glory……. Adam May caught up with Paul Roberts, Head of Security at Melbourne Park to talk about match day preparations: Tell us about why you got involved with Chelmsford City Football Club and what you do on matchdays and in the week leading up to the game ‘I took over from a period of change when we had moved from Billericay and just had our first season at Melbourne Park. Key people had to stand down for various reasons and I was asked to take the Football Club forward on match days off the field. Although it was a bit daunting to start with, my previous experiences started the process to where we are today. Moving from the Ryman to Conference football saw the most changes with different demands.’ ‘Match days at Melbourne Park generally start on Thursday evenings at The Club when I meet with Trevor Smith and /or other Board members to discuss the game ahead and we decide on the staffing level and any upcoming problems or known events. It’s also a time 1
when I meet the volunteers who are about to make sure we are all there for the fencing etc.’ ‘I also try to get any other work done such as getting the Main Stand ready with signage and ensure all 32 bins are put out around the ground.’ ‘I usually arrive at the round at 10.30am prior to a Saturday match (4pm for an evening match, work allowing!). If for any reason the match is in doubt, I try to meet Alan Brown, the Football Club Secretary at around 0800am, for a decision or just to try and help out to clear water etc. (not just on the pitch!).’ ‘Once I arrive I open everything up and check the toilets have been cleaned, I then secure the car park by use of cones and place out all the appropriate signs and check the changing rooms are ready as the away teams tend to arrive quite early’ ‘The bar area can be difficult because many of our fans arrive quite late and we can only truly accommodate about 300 in there at once for the very important pre-game pint, so making sure all can get in there is important. Tables and chairs are moved out for the big games, so sometimes that’s why its standing room only. I know this is a source of some moaning but, equally the same moans about not being able to get a drink are equally as valid. It’s hard sometimes to get this right.’ ‘At 1200 noon the volunteers start to arrive and Judith logs everyone in and provides radios to stewards etc. The ground at this point is signed over from the Centre Manager and at this point I become responsible for the ground for the Chairman and Board. Dave Everard is the Safety Officer and looks around to make sure all is well. Mansell Wallace and I are the deputies as we are also qualified in Health and safety.’ ‘Whilst keeping one eye on the Fencing Crew I have a briefing with the Professional Stewards and make sure they are placed where I think they should be for the game. The turnstiles are run by Mark Cutts, and although I make sure they are there, Mark sorts all this out, but if Mark has problems we all will try to help where we can, especially with queuing and try our best to inform fans that we will get them in as quickly as possible. Mark and Chris do a grand job.’ ‘Since taking this role on I have been asked to justify every penny spent and everyone in the ground. I have therefore had to draft Judith in to oversee this on match days, she has a big job to do and works closely with Trevor Smith, having an experienced business background from around the world, and is a valuable asset to the team on match days and is not the biggest football fan! For the bigger FA Cup games the risk assessment has to be written on an individual basis and submitted to all parties for approval. This I have to do, and generally the Football Club Board let me get on with this. I meet the Police Public Order Commander ( the police have a central point of control for all the football matches of note taking part in the County on a Saturday- yes they keep an eye on us – Braintree as well as Southend and 2
Colchester!) Sometimes the local residents if they have concerns. I attend meetings with the various agencies and local residents with Mansell as part of our lease and commitment to the community around us.’ ‘At 2.15 pm I meet with the Match Day Official Team, assessors and any representatives from the FA for a pre-match briefing which I give about the arrangements for the game. I ensure the Match Day Officials have as much support as possible prior to and during the game.’ ‘Since joining the Conference the rules and expectancies have changed considerably. I am the nominated person for removing players when dismissed from the field of play and also any management team sent away. Unlike the FA rules they cannot sit in the stands but have to be completely removed. The Conference is very hot on this point. At half time I meet the Referee and his assistants on the pitch and see them off through the tunnel and into their room, ensuring they have all the tea, coffee and drinks they need, which is supplied by the catering staff. At full time I see them off with security staff.’ ‘During the final 20 minutes of the game I try to clear up as much as possible and get ready for the final whistle. When it happens, the fencing crew arrive and start to dismantle the fencing and covered Ro-Ro at the far end. The stewards clear up the bins and I try to get the dug outs moved. I can’t say thanks enough for the hard work all the stewards put in, it’s just not enough.’ ‘The most enjoyable game for me so far off the pitch was the Macclesfield game at home when everything went so well off the pitch it was great!!! We even had an inspection from the FA’s own Stadiums Officer with a glowing report published on the FA’s website! Not bad for a small non-League club!’ ‘It has always been the view of myself and the Chairman, Mansell Wallace that we be the most professional we can be on match days, within the budget and other restraints, and it something we will take forwards, seasons ahead if we are still there! I hope this gives some insight and that Match days at Melbourne Park don’t just happen!’
Do you have any funny moments about ejecting people or removing players or officials from the field? ‘The funniest moments about removing people, is the effect drink has on them. They are very brave when with their mates, but when you lay hands on them after a polite request to leave, and have to physically eject them, they suddenly change to shrinking violets. One Ebbsfleet fan, in his very early twenties stood at the gates after being ejected and said he was going to get his “Mum” to ring the Club to complain. The three of us just burst out laughing and he suddenly realised what he said and walked away looking crest-fallen. At the Macclesfield game an away fan was ejected for failing to repeatedly comply with the ground regulations and he expressed an interest in taking us on man to man, Unfortunately around nine Policemen got out of one of those Police carriers and he suddenly realised and ran away towards the woods. If you were to change something in this job, what would it be? ‘The only thing I would change is Melbourne Park for a Football ground, like any other fan, but we are where we are I’m afraid. Setting a match up in a football ground is so much easier.’ What could City supporters do to help improve your job? ‘The Chelmsford City fans already make the job easier, by respecting the Football Club and generally are the best behaved fans in the league, and if they don’t, the older and more committed fans tend to have a “word” on my behalf. I shouldn’t say it really, but when setting up for the bigger games the “home” fans tends to be the least of my worries or the Clubs. When we go away “en-mass” The Chelmsford City FC fans are the best! To be fair the Match days’ work very well now and with the Supporters’ Club support for the Club itself it makes things easier. As you seen it’s not just about moving around those cones in the car park! So to Paul and Judith, enjoy those days on a Saturday, you’ve earned them and don’t give up on watching the Clarets. In CLARETfication! 2 Adam May talks to programme editor and publisher Billy Shaw………………….
*Degs also wanted to test the on-line publishing facilty!