"I’ve worked with hundreds and hundreds of different footballers over the years. As you can imagine I have come across a right mixed bunch, and they make for interesting changing rooms. What has always made me laugh, is that players think that the manager isn’t aware of everything that goes on. Anyway, I’ve had some very banterous changing rooms at times, and I have seen some interesting practical jokes. There are the usual ones of cutting up other players new clothes, cutting the toes out of socks, p*ssing on players as they come out of the shower, hiding other players belongings (including stealing a players keys to his new car and parking it somewhere else), but some stuff including sh*tting on other players kit bags takes it a bit far if you ask me. Still, each to their own I guess.
One thing most non-league footballers have in common is money. I read with interest the article from the secret non-league footballer who said he’d been offered money to throw games. It made me wonder how many players had been offered money to do this, and if indeed had any of my players been offered money. It does make you think about certain games, did my keeper really make that mistake innocently when he dropped the ball to concede a late winner etc. However, I have never seen any evidence of it, and I like to think any player of mine would come and tell me about it. Most non-league players love to be part of a team, so would not want to let their mates down. I am aware of teams who chip into a fund and bet on themselves to win, and I am aware of one manager who once, with the agreement of his team, stuck his weekly budget (around £800) across several betting websites backing his team to win. The winnings were to go towards their end of season trip to Magaluf or somewhere, but they drew the game.
There are a lot of dozy lads out there when it comes to money. I always laugh that a player wants to move for an extra £20 to another club. Most of these idiots don’t realise that up to £100 per week money can be justified by clubs as expenses, but anything over means you pay tax on it. I have known some players move to another club, in a lower league, only to end up earning less after tax. I can understand it though if players are offered a significant increase in money or are going up a league.
Some players are very sneaky and find ways to get themselves small pay rises. One of the oldest tricks in the book it to get another manager (usually a personal friend of the player) to put in a 7 day approach for him. (In non-league if you want to talk to a player from another club with a view to signing him, you send an email to that club, the manager of that club will then decide if you can talk to the player straight away or if you have to wait for 7 days – which most managers ignore anyway and talk to the player regardless – to tempt him over to your club). The manager then tells the player that such and such team has made an approach for him, the player acts all surprised, says he wants to talk to the other team and wants to hear what they have to say. Then the player will come back, say the other club has offered him £50 more than what he is on already but isn’t sure what he wants to do as he loves it where he is, and then will invariably come to an agreement that he’ll stay for an extra £30 a week. I find this laughable really. I was asked once by a player I know well at another club to do this for him a few years ago. I gave him two words, and the second one was “off”.
Players will always talk about money, particularly as most think and dress as though they are premiership footballers (even if they are on £50 a week). The older I get the funnier I find young players tastes in music, slang chat, attitudes towards women and fashion, but we’ll save that for another day. However there are some fantastic players in non-league who are not motivated by money. They’ll play for whatever is offered to them, as they just want to play. They are motivated by bettering themselves, playing in front of crowds, or having their name sung by fans. These guys never move clubs during the season, always play and train as if their life depends on it and are a manager’s dream. Shame there’s not more of them around."