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The manager is also a pastoral figure. There are delicate issues of motivation and personal growth to be fostered. Different qualities need to be cherished.
What to do with the player who basically can't run anymore and whose paunch has now spread south to his ankles and north out through the V neck of his tortured nylon jersey into a chin collection that jounces and flubbers alarmingly whenever he attempts an ambling pursuit of some white booted teenage left winger?
SEVEN DAYS A WEEK
Dispute management and general admin take up the next couple of days. And by midweek it's all on again. The round robin email must be circulated, Adidas Football Cleats Adizero 5 Star
The manager alone must judge whether continued selection can be justified by other attributes, such as ownership of a six seat Volvo estate with leather seats and sat nav, or having a really fit sister.
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players sourced, threatened, cajoled and flattered, and incomplete directions to The Old Artillery Ground Egham (North) Recreation Ground circulated.
This is a full time preoccupation. And a position of some responsibility too. For a disparate group of once sprightly men you are the keeper, the arbitrator and the continued guarantee of a footballing existence.
The actual game will pass in a blur of net taping, team sheet scrawling, goalie glove de moulding and referee glad handing (a major part of managing any team: all referees must be personally greeted in the car park and if possible "turned" with the help of comments like "had these lot before? No? Well good luck. No. No reason").
You're the ashen faced administrators charged with mitigating the potentially fatal black hole in the kit purchase slush fund. This is of course an illusion. There are no tactics.
Not accidentally shin volleying an inswinging corner into your own goal from an unmarked position six yards out and then turning around and shouting "Who's on the fing POST?" a few times just as it starts to snow; not lining up with nine men, one of whom is wearing tennis shoes: these are the closest thing to Adidas Primeknit 16.1 Blue
Managing an amateur football team is a bit like being the despotic leader of a very small and turbulent rogue state.
might be frustrating and even slightly painful at times. But he is as essential an ingredient as the chipped and rusting goal frame and that enduring, galvanising thrill of playing the game.
I once had a captain who would sit everyone down and give proper motivational speeches before a Sunday morning potter about. He used to say things like "be strong". "Be strong. Be proud. Be alive". It was a bit like a heart warming British Gas advert involving an animated family of koala bears.
It's a commitment too: there is no easy way out, beyond personal physical collapse or unstoppable team implosion. You might hate the manager. You might hate being the manager. But without the manager and his zealot's commitment amateur football would be unworkable.
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The manager/captain is a composite figure, bowed by competing responsibilities. For a start you're the club secretary, charged with all administrative and clerical duties, including fixture list finagling, pitch booking, and stewardship of the unexpectedly violent and bad tempered end of season Balti house social.
But what if that player is dangerously attached to turning up every Sunday, often up to an hour before anyone else, mainly because he doesn't seem to have anything else to do at the weekends?
But the manager is always indulged, so expect to listen to some pre kick off talk about "two banks of four" and "switching the point of attack".
You're the board of directors. You manage bad Puma Evopower 1.2 Leather news, you plan for the long term, and you smile and wave and make a run for the car park at the first sign of grass roots unrest.
These are the human responsibilities of managing an amateur football team. It's a job that spills out across the touchline and into the rest of your week.
You alone nourish the small kernel of hopeful new booted schoolboy that still lives on in every Drambuie stinking, unshaven five a side ball hog or sulking Sunday morning utility midfielder. You carry their hopes.
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