Concord Rangers FC’s elevation from the Vange & District League to the National League is well documented in history, and few can take more credit for their outstanding rise to prominence than Jack Smith, winner of the Essex County FA’s #CelebrateEssex ‘Treasurer’ Award.
#CelebrateEssex promotes inspirational personal volunteer stories, encouraging new faces to get involved and grow the grassroots community. Once nominations closed in May, a select group of treasurers were chosen for a Twitter poll to identify the monthly winner who’d receive a prize and extra public plaudits. Jack won the vote in front of three other strong challengers.
Concord’s rise to the second tier of non-league football has been steep - especially in the last decade - and Jack’s ability to make ends meet financially helped to build solid foundations for that progress in the 1970s. “In the season 1973/74 I was approached by the Concord Chairman, Albert Lant, asking me to be their Club Secretary,” said Jack. “I accepted.”
“Then, in 1983, we managed to lease some land from Castle Point Borough Council in Thames Road, Canvey. I was able to enlist volunteers to build the clubhouse and ground. No one was paid for their work. We received a grant from Essex County Council which covered the material costs of the building.”
Jack, an accountant by trade, organised the funds, labour and materials and worked many hours on the site himself. He continued: “It took two years to develop the ground and building and we first played at the new ground in 1985. In later years, three extensions were added to the original clubhouse, including a second bar.”
It was around this time that The Beach Boys enjoyed a particular boost in their growth. In 1988/89, the club joined the Essex Intermediate League, where they successfully won league and cup competitions. This led to them stepping up to the Essex Senior League in 1991. Albert stepped down as Chairman and Jack was then elected chairman of the club for the next two years.
Unfortunately, health problems forced him to spend some time away from football but he was able to return to the club as Treasurer in 1998, a position he still holds to this day. His eldest son, Antony, became Chairman and Concord have won many leagues and cups since on the way to their current status in the Vanarama National League South.
During that time, Jack has rubbed shoulders with some prominent names, including Lincoln City’s ex-Concord duo Danny and Nicky Cowley, who he predicts will become a Premier League management team one day. And there are many other figures involved at the club who he believes have a major part to play in club operations off the field.
“With regard to the Treasurer’s role at Concord, I work very closely with the club manageress, Jayne Sisley,” he detailed. “I see her most days at the club and she gives me a detailed weekly statement of income and expenditure. At home I get this processed onto spreadsheets and I then produce a balance sheet and profit and loss statements.”
“I must say, Jayne’s involvement is crucial to my work as Treasurer. We pay all credit accounts by direct payment to their respective bank accounts. The club’s income primarily comes from sponsorship, gate takings and bar receipts at parties held at the club.”
Jack confesses that one day he’d like to pass the Treasurer position on to his youngest son, Jack Junior, and he has a word of advice for anyone taking on a voluntary role: “Anyone wishing to be involved in the running of a club will need very thick skin,” he shared.
“Football is all about opinions, and frequently you get told of what is wrong in your club. We all do what we believe is right for our club. Without a doubt, Concord punch well above their weight when you consider our opponents. Losing is always a bad weekend for us all but, when your team wins, everything becomes worthwhile.”
Find out more about how to volunteer in grassroots Essex football, in the 'Volunteers' menu above. July is the month of the ‘Chairperson’ on Twitter @EssexCountyFA and information is also shared on Facebook by searching for ‘EssexFootball’.