Winner of the #CelebrateEssex ‘Manager’ category Robert Hutchings-Spiller, who takes charge of Leigh Town on Saturdays and South Benfleet United on Sundays, admits the life in the dugout can be hard work, but that he loves “the buzz of a matchday!”
#CelebrateEssex promotes inspirational personal volunteer stories, motivating new faces and growing the grassroots community. Once nominations closed in August, a select group of managers were chosen for a Twitter poll via @EssexCountyFA to identify the monthly winner who’d receive a prize and extra public plaudits. Robert won the vote in front of many strong challengers.
All teams require a manager to organise a team for fixtures, lead them on matchdays and organise training. In a lot of cases this will also include coaching the side as well, to develop their ability. Robert started playing youth football 27 years ago then, when he reached the age of 19, he decided to start running football teams as he’d always had an interest in how a squad functioned.
“I played for a team in the Sceptre Sunday league at 18 but was not impressed with how the manager ran the club and picked himself while ignoring other players,” he recalled. “After this experience I felt I could do a better job so I started my first Sunday league team in the same league called Independiente back in 2002.”
Robert soon found out that, although he was very motivated, a manager needs to be part of a team, and he’s grateful to those who offer him a helping hand when he needs it: “I always try and give my players a very organised environment for them to succeed in.”
“I feel that an organised team is a successful team and my players always know where they need to be, what they need to bring and that everything will be ready for them once they get there. I try to encourage the social side after our games which helps create a strong team spirit.”
“But a manager’s job never stops, and not a day goes by where I am not either texting or organising our upcoming games and training sessions. It is a full time job which has to fit in with my actual full time job!”
“I have Mitchell Graham on Saturdays who helps me these days with the training sessions and warm-ups for games, which takes the matchday pressure off me slightly. On Sundays my Captain, Miles Waddilove, will also do my warm-ups.”
Although the role can be a demanding one, Rob recommends it to anyone with the right attitude and commitment: “As an experienced manager I am happy to give advice or help other managers and teams. I’d just say to make sure you’re organised and you have the right people around you with a similar outlook on what you want to achieve.”
“Be prepared that this is not an easy role, which can be very time-consuming, and be willing to go above and beyond to make your team a success. After 16 years I enjoy it as much as I did when I started, and love the buzz of a matchday. It is very rewarding after all the work put in to see your team get a positive result.”
Find out more about how to volunteer in Essex football in the 'Volunteers' menu above. October is the month of the ‘Welfare Officer’ on Twitter @EssexCountyFA and information is also shared on Facebook by searching for ‘EssexFootball’.