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Sheffield 160: Club Secretary Bill Towning

9:50 AMGoalChatter

by Aleks V |

2017 marks the 160th anniversary of the world's first football club, Sheffield FC. Sheffield 160 is a bi-weekly series that goes behind the scenes of the historic club through interviews with players and staff.

This week, Aleks chats with Sheffield FC Club Secretary and Accountant Bill Towning on his job, his favorite moments during his years at the club, and suggestions for sightseeing in Sheffield. 

What are your first football-related memories? 
Listening to a match on a crystal set radio that my friend and I had built.

Did you always want to work in sports/football? 
Not really, I had some good jobs outside sport, but I was interested in what went on and was glad to be given the opportunity to help out.

Vintage Crystal Radio Kit. Photo: Joe Haupt from USA
Did you have ambitions to play? 
I was never a very good footballer, I was involved in other sports, particularly boxing, cricket and running. I enjoyed playing 5 a side at work and we had a decent side.

What are your first memories of Sheffield (the city and football club)? 
I came to Sheffield to study; my first memories are the bus ride to my digs. My first memories of the football club - I knew they were the first [football club] many years ago - me and my school friends had found this out reading the Guinness Book of Records many years ago, but I became more interested when the club moved to Dronfield in 2001.

How did you get involved with Sheffield FC? 
I became interested when the club moved to Dronfield and asked if there were any volunteer positions available.

You're the Club Secretary and Accountant, but I hear your duties go beyond that. What's a typical day like for you at the club? 
Daily - first job is to put the kettle on and make tea. I usually work on the bank account with payments and cash flow early in the day; deal with e-mails and stuff like that. Recently I have been dealing with various Company Secretarial matters, but there is also the work to do getting ready for matches, dealing with the FA and the league with regulatory matters, players' registrations and discipline; keeping records up to date, organising some work at the Stadium, liaising with the grounds staff, booking coaches, make sure we are entered in the FA Cup, meet with an ex-SFC player who is organising a schools tournament later in the year. One of the attractions of my job is that no day is ever the same.
Sheffield FC host Shepshed Dynamo in the FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round, September 13, 2014. Photo: Sheffield FC via Flickr
You've previously worked as the U19s and Reserve Team secretary. How did the job differ from what you're doing now? 
At that time I was dealing purely on football issues, now I deal with football and help to run the business side of things.

What is something most people probably don't know about your job at Sheffield FC? 
It's not just my job - lots of people work very hard behind the scenes to get matches on; I think a lot of people outside of the football industry don't realise how much effort it actually takes. I don't think people realise how much tea it takes to run a football club on a daily basis. No decision is taken without tea.

What has been your most memorable season at the club so far and why? 
2007 was very special culminating in the 150th celebrations; I enjoyed the three seasons after that with the reserves as that produced a super bunch of players, some of whom are still with us. However, I try to live in the present as much as possible and enjoy being active in that.

Do you have any anecdotes you can share from your time at the club? 
Mostly arising from conversations with our managers and therefore not always fit for publication. I meet a lot of people in football and I am glad to be able to say I have made a lot of lasting friendships.

You've been at Sheffield since 2002. How have the club and city changed since then? 
The club is on a more professional footing and its operations have expanded far beyond just running a Men's First Team and one U19 side. We have two academy squads and a completely new structure for our mens' teams which we hope will bring us success on the field and provide a definite pathway to the young players coming through from the scholarship programmes and academy teams. We have a fantastic women's section playing at elite level; we deliver football coaching to schools, colleges and universities and the club is much better known throughout the football world as the World's First. The city has changed beyond all recognition - and continues to do so. The University buildings (Hallam and University of Sheffield) are terrific and I can't wait to see what happens at the top of Charter Row and the new buildings at the bottom of Bramall Lane.

Say some fans wanted to visit Sheffield for the 160th anniversary of the world's oldest football club. What places would you suggest they visit (aside from a Sheffield FC game, of course)? 
In the city I would recommend Paradise Square and the Winter Gardens/Millennium Galleries; outside - anywhere in the Peak District!
Sheffield Winter Gardens. Photo: Shanerounce
Read more on Sheffield 160 here.
Join the conversation on Twitter using hashtag #Sheffield160.

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