Today we interviewed Malcolm Lewer the kit man at Kettering Town who currently play in the Southern League Premier Division Central.
Join us as we ask Malcolm about his experiences and stories of being the kitman of Kettering Town, who were the first first British club to play with a sponsors name on their jerseys on 24th January 1976.
1. Who are you Kitman for and how long have you been in the position?
“I am Kettering Towns Kit man, a role that I have been doing (together with my son) for 8years.”
2. How did you get your current role?
“My son had been doing work experience at Rockingham Road and he got a call could he do kit duties for a friendly game, the Official kit man lived some distance away and was unavailable, he needed some help and so I offered, and doing such a good job, being local I was invited to become the first team Kit manager, and I have never looked back.”
3. Have you had any previous experience? (if so who for)
“The nearest experience I had was folding the washing at home!!”
4. Is it a role you’ve always wanted to do?
“To be honest and like many supporters, it’s a role I really hadn’t thought of before; teams just go on to the pitch with clean kit at each game.”
5. What are your responsibilities as a Kitman?
“The role is more than putting clean socks out. I prepare the changing room (Both Home and Away) make a decision what kit is to be worn on away games, and set out warm up shirts and shorts, and match shirt and shorts plus any additional items players have like base layers.
I ensure that the correct sock tape and underwrap is provided. Then you have to ensure there is heat rub, vapour rub and vasiline. I fill drinks bottles up provide hydration additives and gels that players want. Ensure Sub board is fully charged and available, training balls are checked and inflated and the match day balls are cleaned and pumped up to the correct pressure. And kit out the blood bag, (the secret bag with spare shirt and goodies).
I also provide fresh fruit for the players and of course sweets, every player I have ever worked with likes Haribos and chocolate discs!
I write the team sheet out and do the exchanges with the officials and collect the crime sheet at the end of the game, always stopping to have a chat with the ref afterwards, that’s important to see how he saw the game and give feedback as necessary. Then after the game it’s to collect all the kit in, sterilise the bottles wash all the kit and hang in wardrobe, check charge on sub board and deflate match day balls so no one will use them for training!!
Then on Monday final part of the role, send the completed team sheet of to the league and complete spread sheet with any cautions and give a mark for the official. Its an incredibly busy job.”
6. Do you have a beer/wine with the opposition Kitman after the game (like managers)?
“No, to be fair home kit men are always busy after a game and we are the last to leave the changing rooms.
We probably have a quick chat over a tea at the when we first arrive at the ground.”
7. Have you had any certain players have special kit requirements?
“Yes, I once had a certain player that always wore two pair of socks. And now everyone wants cut socks! Because the crew socks have now become so advanced with padding and grips its what players want now.”
8. Do you get any input on the clubs kit designs?
“None what so ever, which is a shame with the experience you have on this! I always want a solid colour as an away shirt or a third shirt, it avoids all kinds of issues.”
9. Do you own any football shirts, if so how many and what’s the most treasured shirt you own?
“I do have quite a few shirts from various teams, but the most treasured is either this year’s Watford shirt because my son bought it for me or Rene Howes Signed shirt from last season.”
10. Do you get to keep shirts from your club or opponents?
“When in the Conference I did get to swap shirts with certain clubs, but with the financial situation at clubs at our level you just can’t do that anymore. But the Blood shirt is always kept though.”
11. What in your opinion is the best football kit of all time?
“The best kit for me was Watford’s 78/79 season, simple but effective, though the material of kits has changed a lot now.”
12. How was your playing career, who did you play for, what position etc.
“That finished when I was 18 having a major injury to my left knee.”
13. Have you made any errors like, forgot the kit or bought the wrong kit?
“One error I made was when we played Leighton away on a midweek game, they played in red/white stripes but was predominantly white, our away kit was blue and white (see Q8) as we was in red/black I thought it may have been ok, but the back of their shirts was all red!!! Had to borrow Leightons away kit for the first half and our blue and white shirts turned up for second half. Lost 3-0 bad night all round.”
14. What’s been your proudest moment as a Kitman?
“Every game I am proud to be able to be a kit man, but the proudest moment was winning the Southern league Central, that meant a lot as I lost my father a few weeks earlier , the man who introduced me to this wonderful game.”
15. What characteristics do you need to be a Kitman?
“You have to be prepared to put long hours in on a weekend and midweek, you need to be organised and like the cold!!
And don’t be offended by anything!”
16. What’s the funniest kit related story you can tell us that has happened to you or you have witnessed?
“We was travelling to Wrexham, and joining the M6 all the cars were beeping and thought wow a lot of support today, till we realised the boot had opened on the coach and all the kit was spread out along the slip road .. We lost that game too!”
17. Who does the laundry at home? ?
“Errrm I do enough of that during the week, though I do contribute to the pile!”
18. Finally, why do you love being a Kitman?
“Being part of a team and experience the emotion close at hand and getting to see what happens at a football club that no one else does.”
Special thanks to Malcolm for taking part. Love the story about the kit falling out the back of the coach on the M6!