The view from the Vale steward - #4

01 September 2010 11:17
The secret lives of the invisible stewards, why you'll find Pizza Hut bills on your credit card statement, and why we wanted Torquay beaten (despite Helen Chamberlain) I’m always asking other stewards why they do this job. “See the game free, and get a bit of wonga.” – Er, yes, fairly standard. “Someone’s got to do it.” – Right, very responsible. “I like red jackets.” – OK, you need treatment. “Need the money.” – Very honest. “My mum said she wanted me out of the house Saturday afternoons.” – Oh yes?! Ever thought why? “My wife said she wanted me out of the house Saturday afternoons.” – There’s a pattern forming here. “Stops me drinking.” – Yes, that’s enough of this. “Gets me out the house…I just get sooo depressed…the weekend is sooo long…” – OK, so I made that one up. The most original answer I got was from a guy who said (in a matter of fact way): “I’m actually a CEO of a company near here. My staff treat me with the upmost respect, and my ego is enormous by the end of the week. I’ve tried many things, but this is the most successful way of deflating myself so that I feel tolerable around my family.” He could afford an annual executive box, but he prefers to be anonymous. And certainly stewards can get away with being almost invisible. (When we become totally invisible, we will pinch your wallets, and order pizza with your credit-cards. Sorry, that’s just the way it is) Often the best games are when you don’t notice the stewards. Trouble is, with that stupid red jacket, it’s so big and bulky that I’m always knocking into people. Sometimes I imagine that I am David Byrne in the latter part of the Stop Making Sense rock movie. Only without the guitar. obviously. I mention all this as stewards are not supposed to show any support towards either team on the pitch. We are allowed to wear Port Vale ties, to show we work for the club, but that’s it. No Vale hats, scarves or underwear (yes, they do check!) (no, they don’t – that was a joke.) (Now you don’t know what to believe.) The ties are clip-ons, so that if someone grabs it, you don’t get strangled…you just lose your tie. They haven’t issued me with one yet. Should I bother? But the point I’m building up to is that when Anthony Griffiths (I keep wanting to call him Gardner for some reason) hit that scorcher into the back of the net against Torquay, I couldn’t help but yelp, “Yes!”, and found I was still applauding the goal several seconds later. What I should have been doing, of course, is looking out for rioting, pitch invasion, explosive devices, rabid dogs and ensuring that no one jumps too hard on Boomer (you wouldn’t want him to get squashed, now would you?). Underneath it all, we’re also Vale supporters (on the whole – I think one is actually a Macclesfield fan), wanting them to win. We may not all have clip-on Vale ties, may be more desperate for a drink than is healthy, and might not know who’s popping round our house whilst we’re away (but then again, who does?)…, but we wanted that first home win that would have put Vale in a promotion spot. I’ll tell you this, though: The noise when Griffiths scored was phenomenal. Make that noise week in, week out, and promotion will be a certainty. But what do I know.