SEMI-PROFESSIONAL & SUNDAY LEAGUE FOOTBALL
Council cuts will effect clubs
The Rooney Rule
“I will keep pushing”
SAMUEL OGUNLEYE @SamOgun_
Highest paid non-league players
Welcome to ‘Mid Table’ magazine, this content is designed to deliver the best news, facts and photos from the UK’s semi-professional and Sunday league football. This is to showcase and to let people know that there is more to football than what we watch on TV. There are real life stories and problems that occur on and off the pitch but not to worry, we are here to update you every step of the way!
hether you are over the age of 35 of under 10 there seems to be plenty of football played on a Sunday no matter your fitness level. Northamptonshire FA is a not-forprofit governing body of football for the county and oversee all 5 Sunday league teams in the county, from the centre of Northampton all the way up to Peterborough. We spoke to one of three football development officers for the FA, Stuart Smith to get an experts insight on semiprofessional and Sunday league football and how important it is to the county. “It’s massive, I think it’s an area Saturday and Sunday that has suffered over the last 10-15 years it has been in decline, that is a trend that’s across the country not just specific to us so we are losing teams, we’ve had more in the past than we’ve got now but it retains a really important part of what we do and a lot of the people involved in our NFA council are from Sunday leagues and also a lot of our referees are refereeing Sunday football so of course it’s massively important”. With
hundreds of teams and thousands of players taking part in grassroots football in Northampton alone, it comes as a bit of a shock to hear that despite the number of people taking part it still on a decline after so many years, Stuart said: “A number of factors, for example weekend working has a big impact on it, you that that people who used to work 9-5 Monday-Friday are now work Saturday or Sunday and a lot of the younger players coming in from youth football are now working Saturday or Sunday and a lot of the younger players coming in from youth football are now finding that they need to have a weekend job to be able to pay for their lifestyle, kit and things that they want to do, so now there are less people available to play at the weekend. There is also a rise in small sided football coming in different formats so Goals and Power League who are 5, 6, 7 a-side providers now giving people the chance for 45mins after work on a Wednesday maybe with their mates for about £3 and perhaps they would prefer to do that rather than pay £5 to play an 11 a-side game and give up 3-4 hours on a
Sunday.” Sunday League is run by volunteers who help manage, train and facilitate teams as much as possible. Eventually this could turn out to be a major problem as they could easily dropout and leave teams stranded. “We always struggle with volunteers and they are essential to making everything run smoothly so we are really reliant on them. A lot of people will say they can get they can get 11 players out but they don’t have anyone who will be willing to be the organisers or managers of that team for a whole season. It’s a massive concern tbh but what can we do, if there is no money to pay these people then I can’t blame them if they decide to stop after a while” The majority of Sunday League teams play on council funded pitches so it would only be fair for the council to help fund some of the football that is played on there. It helps attract more people to use the space provided creating a great and safe environment for Northamptonshire, Smith said: “The council don’t fund teams; all the
teams are self-funded, self-sustaining. All the teams have a fixed amount each player pays each week for the team to run, whereas some of the bigger clubs might have a number of teams so all the money goes into a pot and pays for that club to run.” “We as a county FA have funding scheme available for the creation of new teams. We recieve £20,000-25,000 a year which clubs can apply for and the amount given just depends on the situation they are in.” Stuart also mentioned that they have received plenty of criticism in the past from club that funding is always given to new teams and that there is nothing for the teams that have been running for years. “We are introducing a new funding scheme called ‘Retain the Game’ and this is aimed to give a financial boost to clubs that have been playing for a while and have two or three teams. It is expected to be around £1m spread across the country, so we are hoping us Northants can get a least £20,00030,000 from that budget so it’s a really important one to us definitely.”
With county council finances in chaos and the announcement to scrap all distract counties and create two massive councils on the east and west side of the county we asked how this will effect local football and how the departure of funds has also had an impact. “I wouldn’t say it affects us as a county FA, I would say it has effected the clubs that play within the county. I’m not sure of the numbers but certainly a percentage of football is still played on council pitches, so the quality of the pitches that the council are overseeing directly impacts those participants within our football clubs.” “We are always trying to work with the council to try and improve the quality of the pitches and there’s a number of projects on a facility bases that we are trying to support. For example, we are working with Kettering council to have so drainage works and maintenance of the pitches in Kettering and Corby areas to try and improve the pitches so that we don’t have that many games postponed and the kids and the adults can continue you playing. I mean although the weather has been bad
lately it is still partly up to the draining facilities to deal with that and the council need to be on the front foot with that.” A lot of improvement does need to be made to support Sunday Leagues and the teams that play in them but despite the shaky foundation, Northamptonshire FA look like they have everything under control and are working every day to change what managers, players and staff are not happy with.
“The FA is for all of us” he Football Association will now interview at least one applicant from a black, Asian and ethnic minority background for future roles in England. This is after Chief Executive Martin Glenn decided to adopt the its own version of the ‘Rooney Rule’ in his plan for the FA for 2018. The idea was taken from the NFL who implemented the rule in 2003. The Rooney Rule was name after NFL diversity chairman Dan Rooney. It calls for at least one BAME applicant for each head coach or senior football
operation vacancy. Glenn said the move showed the “FA is for all”. “The FA wants to become a more complete organisation where the workforce can also represent the people who play football today,” Glenn said. He also added: “What it will demonstrate is the chance to have a career outside of the pitch and this is some the we the FA are serious about promoting”. The FA states this change will apply to jobs across England teams but BAME
“The players have insisted Glenn stay on to see them through what has proved to be a low point for the club with three losses in four games.” Tamplin, purchased a 95% stake in the club in December 2016 and so far this season time has led Billericay to the top of the division alongside two cup finals and the FA cup first round. Former Premier Legaue Players Jamie O’hara and Jermaine Pennant, who feature later on in this issue have both played for the Essex club since his debut as manager.
n a Twitter post Tamplin stated that he would leave the club if they fail to beat Wealdstone in the FA Trophy which league leaders went on to lose 5-2. The tweet was deleted soon after and Tomplin stated he will not make any more decisions regarding his future until the summer. If he does step down, his assistant manager Harry Wheeles will take over at the end of the season. The 46 year old also left their Isthmian Premier Division game away to Hendon 20 minutes before full time. His team were 3-0 down when he left and they went on to lose the game 4-1. The club said “Glenn was always going to leave early due to a flight he had to catch for a business trip. He will be away for a few days”. A statement released by the club said: “After two days of meetings with the players, coaching and internal staff after the Wealdstone game, we as a club have made a unanimous decision that Glenn Tamplin will be allowed to make his own decision whtehr he wants to still be the clubs manager at the end of the season,”
applicants will still need to show they meet the appropriate recruitment criteria. English Football League clubs agreed to introduce their own version of the ‘Rooney Rule’ from 1 January but the same measure has been applied to roles in their academies since June 2017. Research shows that from November 2017 only 22 of 482 roles across the England’s top four leagues were taken by coaches from BAME backgrounds.
*Credit: Billericay Town,Vanarama National League, Football Association
T Sport continue to be the only broadcasting station to show Vanarama Nation League football as they renewed their exclusive right to broadcast at least one live match every week in its regular Saturday afternoon slot. The deal is said to last till 2021, a year before the World Cup in Qatar, before negotiations start again. BT Sport have and still are broadcasting live and exclusive footage of English football’s fifth tier ever since the launch in August 2013. BT Sport’s coverage will also follow the championship race and the electrifying end-of-season playoffs at Wembley through which one team achieves a second promotion place into the English Football League 2.
BT Sport’s live Vanarama National League match coverage is steered by presenters Matt Smith and James Richardson with commentators Adam Summerton and Adam Virgo. Joining them are regular pundits Dean Saunders, who has managed numerous National League clubs after a playing career with Liverpool and Wales, and Chris Hargreaves, who has managed National League side Torquay United. Simon Green, head of BT Sport, said: “BT Sport is honoured to continue our support for the peak of English football’s national game. We look forward to delivering to our viewers the many storylines that enhance this league’s description and which features some of English football’s most well-known clubs. Furthermore, over the past few years our student
initiative has emphasised our pledge to non-League football.” Brian Barwick, Chairman of The National League, said: “After fully investigating the market place, we are delighted to reintroduce our partnership with BT Sport for a another three years. BT Sport has delivered outstanding coverage of the Vanarama National League, and this new deal will spread BT Sport’s investment in our progressively watched and very respected competition.” BT Sport is available to watch on BT, Sky and Virgin Media television platforms.
“IT’S NOT EVERYDAY THAT YOU GET THE OPPORTUNITY TO PLAY FOR A BIG TEAM BUT I WILL ALWAYS KEEP PUSHING REGARDLESS OF MY CIRCUMSTANCES. I JUST WISH THERE WAS MORE MONEY AND BETTER FACILITES FOR US NON-LEAGUE PLAYERS”
artwell Forrest played in the league for the first time in six weeks as they travelled to face bottom of the table AFC Trinity at the Racecourse. Hartwell started off very well and it was very quick to see that Trinity were going to struggle as they have in previous games. Hartwell opened the scoring after 5 minutes when Marc Thorp turned in a Ben Carter cross and just 10 minutes later it was 2 as Frankey Tarrant put in a low finish. Ben Carter then smashed home the 3rd and Marc Thorp grabbed his second before half time to make it 4. Hartwell should have had many more before the break but some poor decision making kept it 4-0 at half time and gives both teams something to think about during the manager’s team talk. There was four changes at half time and with a change of formation it looked like Hartwell were coming out looking for more goals. Michael Winch scored his first of the game and it all seemed to go downhill for Trinity. Joe Sames then scored a brace following a Ben Carter penalty taking his tally
to 2 and the teams tally to 8. Michael Winch scored again and Marc Thorp scored 3 second half goals to make it 5 for the day before being subbed off to give another striker a chance. Michael Winch wrapped it up by completing his hat trick and Hartwell’s day was done with a 13-0 vicotry. Credit to Trinity who kept pushing forward and never gave up until the final whistle but Hartwell showed they were the better team. Hartwell captain and central midfielder Dave O’dell played 70 minutes of the game making his 7th appearence since coming back from injury in Febuary. O’dell commented after the game: “13-0... If I’m honest I was not expecting that even though we were on home turf. Even though Trinity FC are bottom of the table I was expecting a bit more of a fight from them but we will take the victory regardless. Now we push on to the next game and hopefully we can deliver the same work rate we delivered today”. Hartwell are currently sitting 5th in the table and although they are 10 points behind league leaders Houghton Magna
they still have 3 games in hand and can easily take over if they keep up the quality from their recent performances; “After today’s game I am much more confident. The way we played and executed our chances goes to show we have much more potential and deserve to move higher up the table, so as long as we take advantage of our games in hand we can give Houghton a run for their money”. Sunday League players consists of many players from different footballing backgrounds.Various player have played for bigger teams and a now playing in non-league football due to being released or career ending injuries. Then you have young players who are looking for a breakthrough and are playing their heart out to be noticed. You also have quite older players who play for fun to get their fitness up. Everyone has something they enjoy about Sunday League and each player has a goal they want to achieve. O’dell said: “To be honest I just do it to maintain my fitness. . I also play for another club called Northampton Chinks on Saturdays so playing a bit
of extra football on a Sunday morning isn’t bad. When I play on Saturdays it can get really intense so it’s not as relaxing as the games on Sunday.” O’dell is 26 years of age and just like many of his fellow team mates he still has aspirations of making it as a proffessional footballer. On paper it looks quite unlikely it will happen but you have to admire his optimism. “Well, I would say yes to be fair, anything is possible. We will just have to see. I certainly won’t stop until it’s absolutely certain I won’t make it”. Players such as Burley goalkeeper Nicholas Pope and Reading’s Ben Gladwin have had experience playing in non-league and are now play their football on a bigger scale. This is just a few of the players that O’dell looks up to: “Sure, the likes of Jamie Vardy who was in my position at this age and then went on to win the Premier League and play in the Champions League is a dream of mine. I wake up every day hoping I can also do the same but I do not ignore the fact that it still takes a lot of hard work to get there”. Do you have any doubts? “I think everyone has some doubts
and worries at so point you know. For example it seems like a lot of the younger players seem to be getting the big breaks because the potential and length of years they can still play for, well as people like me are more like second choice players, but it still does not stop me from pushing”. In the past Sunday League has a reputation of not giving enough oppurtuinities for players to get scouted, O’dell thinks overwise: “Most definitely, we’ve had numerous scouts and experts come to watch our games and that is one of the major reason why I take this seriously and give it 110%. Many players play for our team for fun or to keep their fitness up but I’m always looking at the bigger picture.You never know who the manager has invited to come and watch the game or whether someone important is just taking a stroll and spots you doing something amazing on the pitch, opportunity can come from nowhere”. Lack of funding is certainly a key factor as to why the quality of pitches and facilities are quite poor. Players have to use their money each week to contribute towards kit and other essentials, but what does O’dell think
the chairman and the rest of the board for the Nene League need to work on: “First of all more money needs to be put down for the pitches. As you can see today we played on the Racecourse where there are plenty of sticks and other objects that we may not be able to see and although the score line doesn’t reflect this but it really effects our game and increases the risk of injury and it’s quite worrying how the chairman of the league and the council haven’t helped us to change this. Once they have sorted that out then we can start looking more into the improvement of equipment and kits.
There are a handful of non-league players tied on ÂŁ1,500 a week, but we have chosen to include in seventh Roger Johnson due to his goals percentage bonus. The 34 year-old centre back was playing for London club West Ham in the Premier League and in the league cup semi-final in 2014, all be it, not very well. He is now currently playing his football in the National League at Bromley. The former Wickham, Cardiff, Birmingham and Walsall defender had a spell in India recently but is now a regular for the 10th place National League side.
Tied with Charlie Lee on ÂŁ1,600 a week is Eastleigh forward James Constable. A striker who has bounced from League One and the Conference for most of his career, Constable has played for the likes of Walsall and Oxford United. He has been with Eastleigh since 2014 where he began with two bright seasons at their home the Ten Acres. The last two have been rather less impressive however the hardworking striker has scored only 2 goals in 23 games this season and as a result has been loaned to National League South side Poole Town.
*All player images taken from their respective club websites
Versatile former Tottenham trainee Charlie Lee, left League 2 side Stevenage to join Leyton Orient in the summer transfer window of 2017, becoming one of the best paid players in the National League in the process. The central midfielder has previously had lengthy runs with both Peterborough United and Gillingham and was a regular a regular in the championship 7 years ago.
A Premier League player as recently as 2013, former Jamaican international Jobi McAnuff has suffered a rather rapid decent through the divisions. Once a player for Crystal Palace, Watford and Reading, McAnuff was a pacey winger and at 36 years of age, much of that pace has deserted him. He’s is still a taunting left winger though who ought’s to stand out in the National League. This is second Orient player in this 7 but their big money players are not doing much good as the team languishes in 17th place.
It’s two apiece for Leyton Orient and Eastleigh in this 7. With another man with international and Championship experience coming in at 4. The best paid player in the National League Reda Johnson picks up a cheeky £1,800 a week at Eastleigh. The large centre back who was a force in the air although rather injury prone he has previously turned out for the likes of Sheffield Wednesday and Coventry City. Eastleigh’s big earners do not seem to be doing much either currently sitting in 14th place 25 points behind league leaders Macclesfield Town.
In second place we go from the National League to the Isthmian League Premier Division, the 7th tier of English football. Free spending Billericay Town have raised one or two eyebrows in non-league football as their controversial owner Glenn Tamplin looks to put the team on the map. Tamplin made his money in the steel industry and is now spending it on ageing footballers looking for one last pay day, whilst telling people who abuse him on twitter, to jump off bridges. Had this list been made a couple months earlier then Paul Konchesky would feature here too, but in second place is Jamie O’Hara. The once highly regarded Tottenham and Wolves midfielder is now 31 and his appearance on Celebrity Big Brother triggered some altercation as to how his career is going. The former England youth international has a clause in his contract which would allow him to leave Billericay freely should a Premier League or Championship club come in for him.
In top spot on £3,000 a week is former Arsenal and Liverpool wide man Jermaine Pennant. Capped 24 times by England’s U-21’s, Pennant played the full 90 minutes in the Champions League final against AC Milan in 2005. He has had spells in both India and Singapore recently and is literally a shadow of the player he once was. He is still a decent winger with a good cross on him though and is said to be the best player in England’s 7th tier even at 34. Although leaving for a few weeks in January Pennant re-joined Billericay and has now taken top spot on the salary list. Billericay are currently 2nd in their division although they have 6 games in hand on the league leaders Dulwich Hamlet.