It’s a fairytale! What a story! A little village club playing the likes of Coventry City next season with a population of 6,000… what sporting romance!
Apparently being the smallest town to have a team enter the Football League makes some of the football world quick to put it down to a minor miracle. Those of us who actually pay attention to the Non-League game know Forest Green Rovers’ promotion for what it truly is.
The club has reportedly made losses of nearly £10 million pounds and spent £200,000 on agent fees as they try to chase the dream of the League Two, which they earned on Sunday in a performance which was worthy of taking them there.
They also call themselves the ‘Little club on the Hill’. It sounds fair enough comment as the ground is based among the hills of Gloucestershire, anyone who has been there will tell you the scenery is great but this is as far away from a football area as you will find.
But the ‘Little club’ part is one that doesn’t sit well with me and here is why.
You hear many fans, in general, saying they’re a big club or they are not a big club and I always find myself thinking what defines a ‘big’ club?
Is it attendances? The amount of money a club has? Or what about how much they have won and silverware they have on the table?
Well if you want to go down the money route then no they are not a small club at all. Forest Green are one of the Non-League game’s biggest spenders. They have been for years. It’s a spending that has seen the club publish figures of losses totalling £5 million over the past two years.
They also boost a chairman in Dale Vince, whose wealth is reported to be £100 million pounds and he isn’t shy about putting his money where his mouth is and doesn’t seem to care what anyone thinks.
It annoys many, angry that their club who spend on players what they make through the turnstiles and in sponsorship miss the boat all because of a rich eco-friendly fella who could get bored at any moment.
One thing is for sure though. Having chucked so much money at Forest Green since he arrived in 2010, the main point that should be made is why on earth it has taken them so long.
Why JT Should Follow Matt Jansen’s Path…
Chelsea defender John Terry is coming to a crossroad in his career. Does he stay in England as his Blues career comes to an end, does he move abroad for a pay day or doesn’t he do something totally different.
If he wants some life lessons, he could do a lot worse than try his hand at managing in the Non-League game. One big Premier League name will tell you it’s the best decision he’s ever made.
Matt Jansen has seen his stock rise in the game following his work with Chorley and taking them to the Vanarama National League North playoff final.
It was high in the world of football was already high having played Premier League football, Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers, as well as scoring the opening goal in the 2001 League Cup final.
He was even called up to the England squad in 2002 for a friendly against Paraguay, which he missed due to illness and was all set to go to the World Cup in Japan and South Korea but was overlooked for Martin Keown of Arsenal instead.
Fast forward to 2015 and Matt Jansen is Assistant Manager at Chorley, alongside his former Rovers captain Garry Flitcroft. The duo led Chorley up the leagues and to the National League North playoff final against Guiseley where they lost 3-2.
It was to be Flitcroft’s last game as Chorley manager as he would move up to become a director handing the reins to Jansen.
Jansen guided Chorley to an 8th placed finish in the 2015/16 just falling short of the playoffs.
But this season has been nothing short of an achievement for the Magpies boss as he led Chorley to sixth place and with Darlington’s ground be unfit for the playoffs they snuck in by a point.
In the playoffs, his side came from 1-0 down to be Kidderminster Harriers in the semi-finals before seeing his Magpies take Halifax Town to extra-time in the final only to lose 2-1.
So why is Jansen, and indeed Flitcroft, a reason why Premier League footballers should get involved in Non-League football?
It allows them to see the game from a completely different perspective and not just from managing from the touchline.
The Non-League game is a different world from the glitz and glamour of the Premier League where the stars are pampered, in our game they have to really earn their corn.
A Premier League footballer can have a reputation as being one of the leading lights in the game but as a manager that will count nothing and by going into Non-League football it can be a seen as a way of taking their management apprenticeship and building up their name as football manager rather than just a former professional who is starting out in management.
Should they not do so well as a manager then they will not be in the media spotlight as they would say if they managed a Championship or League One side, which can help them as they can rebuild their fortunes and as the old football cliché says ‘we go again’
It’s not only the person reputation that can build from their appointment the club can benefit greatly too.
Chorley were drawing in an average attendance of less than 300 in the first season before Flitcroft arrived. In his first season, the attendances shot up and have continued to increase ever since the 2010/12 season.
The club who were struggling to stay up in the First Division North has been fully revitalised thanks to their arrival with many local businesses willing to chuck money and their name behind the club to help promote the club and themselves because of the people involved and wanted to be associated with a former Premier League footballer.
Being a former Premier League footballer in the Non-League game as a manager might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
But surely it’s worth a go for anyone looking to break into the world of management.