Many of us enjoy visiting our local non-league club at the weekend and during the week. We finish work, watch the match and head home ready for a new day. But what about the players who have to fit in their work commitments around the football? How do they do it?
The Echo will be speaking to non-league stars from across south Essex this season about how they juggle two of life’s most crucial aspects – work and football.
This week we ask East Thurrock United captain Tom Stephen, 22, who led out Rocks as skipper for the first time on Saturday.
SATURDAY 9am: I like to get up about this time on a Saturday as it gives me a chance to catch up on any TV I have missed over the week. Of course, it goes without saying, I would have to have a cheeky look on Sky Sports News to see Sports round-up.
1pm: Early afternoon I headed to the ground for the first game of the season against AFC Hornchurch. We generally meet-up at about 1:15-1:30pm, but I arrive at 1pm to make sure I get there in time as I don’t want to get any player fines!
Of course, I have the whole Stephen clan watch us play at home. My mum, dad, three sisters (aged 27, 22 and 20), man and two grandads, sister’s boyfriend and my girlfriend are always there – to cheer me on and slate me at the same time!
5pm: Overall it was a good game (East Thurrock won 1-0) and it was a great result to kick off the season. All the boys played really well and I couldn’t have asked anymore. We got our tactics just right and the main difference was that we worked for each other on and off the ball.
We also had an incentive with Simmo (Nicky Symons) falling ill the night before and having to go to hospital. But it was a great team performance.
Personally my man of the match was between three – Connor Witherspoon, Manny Osei and Hughesy (David Hughes).
It was a day to remember for me personally too. It was a very strange experience especially having played with Peds (Simon Peddie) and Woody (Ben Wood) when they have been captain in the past. The good thing was that it was not intimidating as I thought it was going to be and I believe that was down to all the lads and coaching staff. They gave me loads of support and it was like playing in any other game.
It was a good experience though and again it started to give me more of an understanding of what actually a captain will need to bring to the team to become a good leader. A level head, communication skills and a great bunch of lads to back me up (which we have in abundance) puts me in a great position.
SUNDAY After a game of football I always like to relax by either chilling out at home or going out for a meal with my family or girlfriend.
On the odd occasion I love catching up and socialising with the footy lot. We just have a good time and really enjoy each other’s company.
I will look to get to bed around 11 or 12pm on a Saturday but earlier on a Sunday.
MONDAY Every weekday I get up between 5.15am and 5.30am. I will have a shower and aim to get the 6.12am train from Harold Wood. This will get me into work – at HSBC in Canary Wharf – at 7am where my work day begins.
I am a fixed income analyst in investment banking and have been in the role for five years now. Day-to-day I work with fixed income processes that relate to settlement of traders’ transactions.
I won’t leave work until 6pm, so I will look to get in at around 7pm.
We play against Canvey Island tomorrow night so I will simply chill out with the family, see what football is on (there is no Monday Night Football on Sky tonight!) and have a good wholesome dinner which would normally be high in protein and carbohydrates, so normally spaghetti bolognese or chicken fajitas.
TUESDAY Work is very understanding with football as they allow me to leave early on game days at around 4.30pm, which means I have enough time to go home, pick up my car and drive to the ground. If it’s an away game then I might have to leave earlier and get a train straight there depending on how far it is.
The match went really well against Canvey, with regard to the result. Canvey started off really quickly but we weathered the storm and then started to get a foothold in the game. It was a great team effort to restrict Canvey with long shots and overall I feel we deserved something out of the game and that’s exactly what we got. That means we have won two out of two but that’s mainly down to the whole team fighting for each other.
Bring on Saturday.