Images by: SEAN DOYLE
It’s gearing up to be an exciting end to the season for Golcar United and the volunteers helping off the field are just as important as the players on it.
The Weavers are just two Covid-hit years into life as a semi-professional club and are pushing for promotion from the North West Counties First Division North.
While Ash Flynn and Dan Naidole are smashing in the goals, a dedicated team of volunteers and helpers are smashing it behind the scenes.
Club chairman Peter Gledhill leads from the front and every matchday you’ll spot him in his hi-vis acting as the car park steward outside.
Peter is one of four trustees alongside club secretary Ben Senior, Andy Naylor and Ian Whitehead but there’s a whole team of dedicated off-the-field volunteers who make sure this friendly little club punches above its weight.
“We couldn’t run the club without our volunteers and helpers,” said Peter. “They are as important to Golcar as the players on the pitch.”
The Weavers want to be at the heart of the community and they want to give people a great experience, entertain them and keep them coming back for more. And it’s working!
A season’s best crowd of 645 went to the Skye Direct Stadium for the January Bank Holiday Monday fixture, the biggest league attendance for over two years.
Fans can have a beer while they watch the football – something they can’t do watching professional sport – and the burgers, pies and sausages come from Bolster Moor Farm Shop and are as good as they get.
The atmosphere is brilliant too. It’s football like it used to be, where you can chat to the players and have a pint with them in the bar afterwards.
“You only have to look at social media to see why people love coming to Golcar,” said Peter. “They talk about having a beer, the food, the hospitality and how friendly everyone is. We make people welcome and we want them to have a good time.
“That’s what we want to encourage and this is why we have relatively big attendances.”
Golcar is a small club with big ideas and they are ambitious to progress. “We are a village, albeit a big village,” said Peter. “But we are playing against towns. People enjoy coming here – yes, we’re a successful side on the field – but we look after people too.
“I am really keen that we create a ground for the community that’s worth the name. Every day there is someone working on the ground to improve it as an amenity.”
Attendances at grassroots football are on the up generally so what’s the appeal?
“I think there are a few reasons at play,” said Peter. “Over the last two years people have not been encouraged to go too far so Covid has probably helped with people not travelling.
“We also get lots of Huddersfield Town fans coming down when Town have a longer away trip. The fans who come are surprised at the standard of football, they can have a drink while watching the game, the quality of food is good and there’s an atmosphere too.
“Huddersfield is starved of semi-professional football. There’s only Emley, of course, on the other side of town but nothing in the Colne and Holme valleys. People are now shopping locally again and are supporting football locally too.”
Golcar is hosting a charity football day on May 1 when a team of Huddersfield Town legends take on Golcar United legends. Match for Heroes 3 is raising money for Help 4 Homeless Heroes and the Yorkshire Regiment Benevolent Fund.
On the weekend of May 14 and 15 the club will host a ‘party on the pitch.’ The event called A Tribute to Golcar will be a festival-style concert of tribute bands. It will support Golcar Community Playing Fields, Golcar Lily Day and Golcar Winkle Club.
“It’s all about being part of the community and having a sense of identity,” said Peter.
So who are the unsung heroes off-the-field?
Chairman’s wife Jennie Gledhill, Helen Brocklehurst and Carol Pinder have all been involved with the club for over 20 years and are in charge of the catering side. They are the smiling faces serving up the food on all matchdays, for the women’s team as well as the men’s.
One of Jennie’s other tasks is cleaning the toilets. It’s dirty work but somebody has to do it!
Barry Iredale is the gateman who sells tickets and programmes while his wife Jackie sells the raffle tickets with the coveted star prize of a Bolster Moor breakfast.
Their main roles are the ‘glamorous’ ones. Less so is their other vital task as ‘refuse collectors’ clearing up all the rubbish and emptying bins.
Raise a glass too to Andy Crockett, who organises the bar staff. He also has litter-busting and clean-up duties too.
Ben Senior is the club secretary who is charged with complying with all the league’s rules and regulations and ensuring there are no fines for administrative breaches.
He’s an “ideas man” who is always looking for sponsorship opportunities. He helps organise the annual bonfire and is closely involved with the two big upcoming community events.
Gloria Manning, assisted by husband Terry, is “indispensable” according to Peter. She runs the club’s laundry and is responsible for washing and drying all the kit. “Gloria also cleans the changing rooms.” Enough said, Peter.
Last but not least is the club’s ballboy, Cobi. When not lobbing the ball back into play or scrambling down the banking to retrieve a clearance, Cobi is happy to do the odds jobs such as fetching and carrying.
He’s a bit of a club mascot too and the players love having him around.
So that’s the off-field team and they are all Golcar through and through. “We’re all one big family,” said Peter.
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