Club Secretary, a prominent and mandatory position within any football club.
Brendan Boyle discusses the importance of the Club Secretary role, being the main point of contact for St.Paul's Football Club, and gives some insight to the
'vast and varied behind the scenes work' that includes being involved in just about every aspect of the clubs activities.
8 Minute read
AT: Please tell us a little bit about yourself?
BB: I've been in Jersey for about 14 years, I’m married and have two children. From a day job perspective I am a director at a local Venture Capital firm. My job takes up a lot of time and so there is a little bit of juggling to be done with family, work and of course the club Secretary role.
AT: How did you get first get involved in local football?
BB: My wife used to work with Charlie Browne (Former St. Pauls President) and Charlie invited me along to lunch back in 2012. We just got talking and I think Charlie then dropped into the conversation about getting involved with the St. Pauls FC.
I played when I lived in Scotland and Guernsey before moving to Jersey. By the time I moved to Jersey though, I had given up on the playing side as with having two kids and moving to a new island there were other priorities to fill the time.
Charlie suggested helping out on the admin side of the club and it wouldn’t take up too much time, so that was how it started, I guess there’s no such thing as a free lunch!
“It’s a really rewarding role,
you feel like you’re giving something back"
AT: What is the main function of your role as club Secretary at St. Paul’s Football Club?
BB: It is really quite a broad spectrum, obviously there are set things that you’re associated with as Secretary such as arranging the Committee Meetings and taking the minutes, plus arranging the AGM.
However there are many other things. You seem to be the first point of contact for any queries whether that be internal or external. For example if somebody wants to join the club or they've got a son or daughter that wants to join.
Obviously the club Secretary receives all the Jersey FA communications on things like the FA Charter Standard information; JFA meetings, disciplinary hearings; player registration updates as well as being a liaison for club fixtures, either from coaches at the club, other clubs or the JFA.
Other bits include sending recommendations for the Jersey FA Link Asset Services Centre of Excellence; ensuring kit and equipment is adequate for the coaching staff and teams throughout the season.
The list is not quite endless but also includes things like travel and signing cheques for instance. If the men’s first team are away to play in the Jeremy Cup in Guernsey, I look at options to get the team there, coach hire etc.
Due to being on the Committee, you get involved in ensuring the coaching positions across the club are filled and they have what they need to run a team.
There is always something that needs doing, we for example also have a connection with the Parish of St.Saviour as the pitch we play on is owned by the Parish. Therefore we have periodic meetings or discussions with them on various topics.
“It really helps the club to be able to get parents
or volunteers involved supporting what we do"
AT: With St.Paul’s being one of the largest and most historic clubs on the island what are the biggest challenges you have experienced within the role?
BB: I think it’s juggling tasks with other commitments, whether that’s work, family, and whatever else was going on in your life.
There are certain things that come up that need completing fairly quickly such as travel arrangements, a fixture issue that needs to be resolved, or even something that is happening that night.
Trying to make sure you do what needs doing in good time, but also trying to make sure nothing else has been forgotten. I think over time you learn how to manage that.
There was a time where the number of volunteers we had was fairly minimal so trying to make sure everything was done in time was a challenge. We found that with trying to accomplish things on a day-to-day basis and keep the club running, it felt like you're almost fire fighting.
This meant it was difficult to take a step back and start thinking about the next 6-12 months into the future and look at the overall strategy of the club.
How are we going to get better training pitch?
How will we make our facilities better?
What system can we put in place for collecting player subs?
At the time it was a challenge where you didn't feel like you're getting anywhere, but we learnt a lot during that period. We now have a stronger committee and volunteer base and there is help with the administration of individual teams, especially on the junior front, with the introduction of a Team Admin role for every team.
Generally one of the parents will complete this role and will send out communications including details of training and fixtures and if any of the details have changed. We try to get the Team Admin to look at player registrations and do any initial chasing for information the club may need. It really helps the club to be able to get parents or volunteers involved supporting what we do.
AT: As club Secretary, how much time commitment would be required each week and what type of meetings are your required to attend on behalf of your club?
BB: I think generally it depends on the size of the club. At St. Pauls we have Minis football all the way through to Seniors, so what we need to do will involve a lot more than a smaller cub with possibly a First team and a Reserve team.
It depends on the stage of the season as well. To start the season, you've got all the registrations and player subs to collect. Equipment needs sorting, and any additional purchases need ordering.
As the season goes on, you've got tasks like any disciplinary cases to manage, make sure any paperwork is correct and any potential fines are paid in addition to the annual Standard Chartered renewal.
I also used attend the JFA Combination meeting once a month but that has now been passed to another committee member of the club. It’s difficult to say how many hours a week, but I would probably say it averages around 3-4 hours, but it also does depend on what’s happening at any one time during the season.
AT: Being a club Secretary is a busy and varied role, what would you say are the main skills required to be successful in the job?
BB: Organisation. Knowing where to go for information and how to deal with it, especially when certain things come up as an issue throughout the season.
Obviously it helps to learn quickly and make good connections. Knowing the right person to ask for information, or at least knowing someone who can point you in the right direction is probably the most important aspect of it.
AT: Club secretary is a vitally important part any football club, what has been a highlight of the role for you as secretary of St. Paul’s Football Club?
BB: The highlight is really on going. Knowing the number of kids and adults we’ve got involved at the club is great. We have a thriving mins section, 11 junior teams and then the Reserves, Over 35s, Walking Football and First Team. Knowing that we have so many involved, enjoying their football and giving kids an opportunity to come and play and develop is why we do it.
We do take pride in the number of players who come through our junior ranks and represent the First team, Jersey and the odd few that play professionally. We have won many trophies over the years and to see a strong core of those teams having players that have been with the club for many years is really satisfying.
Our coaches interact and talk to each other so well, supporting young players who are ready have the opportunity to play up an age band or move into Reserve or First team football.
Also I think it's more than just football, there is the social side too. There are players who started with us in the minis section who did not know each other, years later they are still playing together. Even though they go to different schools they’ve made some great friendships at the club outside of football and these can last for many years.
AT: When appointed club secretary, what support or training did you receive to help you learn the role?
BB: I had support from Marie Browne who was in the role previously. Marie stayed on the committee and helped me get to grips with the role. I think now the FA and the JFA have some support and training for Admin roles so people have a clearer idea of what it is and what to expect.
It has changed over the years with Charter Standard Health Check making sure the club is doing everything correctly and providing best practice. This includes having a Club Welfare Officer to support everyone. More recently under current circumstances we now also have a Club Covid Officer too. There is a lot more regulation and paperwork which contributes to ensuring football is a safe environment for all, and that is the most important aspect.
“It's a really fulfilling role if you've got a passion for football"
AT: Clubs are always looking to source new volunteers, in terms of the secretary role, what advice would you offer to someone who is thinking about putting their name forward for a club secretary role?
BB: I think first and foremost, know what the job entails before committing to it. Again this will depend on the size of the club and the size of the committee, but I think that is an important one to check at the start.
Also check how many hours the role may take, make sure it is something you can commit too and that you can do the job justice.
If your playing days are coming to an end and you don’t want to be a coach, I think it's a really fulfilling role if you've got a passion for football. It is a really rewarding role, you feel like you’re giving something back.
Someone told me a while a go that the Secretary is the one that runs the club. Whilst not strictly true, I understand what they meant by it. The Secretary and other Admin roles are very much a team effort. Have no doubt though; you are the point of contact for most that goes on within the club.
As secretary you are generally involved in the vast majority of conversations where decisions have to be made. It’s definitely one of the more involved and varied jobs within a football club that you can have.
AT: Finally, how can people get in contact with you or the St.Paul's Football Club?
BB: Facebook @stpaulsfc.jersey and Twitter @stpaulsfc or my email address email@example.com
The 'Get Involved' series aims to highlight some of the roles and responsibilities members have supporting the running of their clubs or associations with the drive to entice more people to join the local football workforce