Today we asked Tony Waugh about his experiences and stories of being the Wealdstone FC kitman.
Wealdstone FC are probably best known for super fan The Wealdstone Raider! Read Tony’ tales from the non league kit room below.
1. Who are you Kitman for and how long have you been in the position?
“Wealdstone FC in the Conference South and this is my 11thseason at the Club.“
2. How did you get your current role?
“I was around before Wealdstone moved in to Grosvenor Vale. I used to drink at the Football Club with my Father in Law when Ruislip Manor played here. Wealdstone moved in to the ground in the summer of 2008 and were looking for a Kitman, I came down and had a chat with the Secretary, Paul Fruin, and we have been inseparable ever since, he is my work wife.“
3. Have you had any previous experience? (if so who for)
4. Is it a role you’ve always wanted to do?
“I don’t think many people set out to aspire to be a Kitman, unfortunately it isn’t a very glamorous side of the game, and most people specifically in Non-League certainly don’t do it for the money or glory. I think it’s like a lot of things around a Football Club it ends up taking much more time than you originally envisaged. Football at this level is about the people, and you do get drawn in to it.“
5. What are your responsibilities as a Kitman?
“It’s probably easier to tell you what we don’t do. Looking after and setting out all the kit and all the equipment on a match day is probably the easy bit. Everything we do in the week is geared up to a Saturday, so making sure we have everything available for training and transporting it around, ensuring the Management and Players are comfortable to get on with their jobs efficiently is probably the key to the job. I’ve just spent time yesterday trying to arrange audio equipment in the Clubhouse so the Manager can go over Saturday’s game with the players, so you never know what you are going to get asked to do next.“
6. Do you have a beer/wine with the opposition Kitman after the game (like managers)?
“No, not really, we don’t have the time. Players nowadays are a lot slower getting out of the changing rooms after a game, so sometimes it can be close to 6pm by the time you are finished. For away games we tend to pack up, load the van and come straight back to the Club. I would suspect most of the other guys do the same. There are certain Kitmen that I have got to know of the years where we do have a bit of a chat, but it tends to be more over a cup of tea whilst the players are warming up.“
7. Have you had any certain players have special kit requirements?
“I think all of them have their own individual requirements. You just get to know what they need and then make sure it’s done. Everything from smaller shirts, bigger shorts, cut socks to under armour. Most of the players currently at the Club are quite good, so it’s not too bad.“
8. Do you get any input on the clubs kit designs?
“Yes, we have bespoke shirts so I get to go across to our kit supplier, Macron, in Italy every year to finalise the designs. We have just started working on next season’s, I get a rough concept then speak to a few people around the Club to get their opinions, Manager, Secretary, Chairman and the Club Shop guys, then get the final approval and head off to Macron to get the process started. I normally do that in March and we take delivery in July.“
9. Do you own any football shirts, if so how many and what’s the most treasured shirt you own?
“Not really, I have a couple of limited edition ones from my hometown team, but that’s about it.“
10. Do you get to keep shirts from your club or opponents?
“As per above, I’m not really a collector of shirts. I have had a few given to me over the years, but I normally give them away to people who will make better use of them. I often get requests for our shirts and try to help out where I can, but the budget dictates what we can and can’t do, and it’s not always possible to accommodate them.“
11. What in your opinion is the best football kit of all time?
“Difficult one to answer that, if pushed I would say either Real Madrid or Peru kits, distinctive and simple, no need for over the top colours or unnecessary additions. Keep them simple and uncluttered.“
12. How was your playing career, who did you play for, what position etc.
“Fairly unremarkable. I played centre half, strangely enough I didn’t really want to be a footballer so never took it too seriously. I haven’t kicked a ball since I stopped playing 15 years ago, and to be honest I don’t really miss it. I’ve had the opportunity to join in with 5 a sides since, but I’m not really interested.“
13. Have you made any errors like, forgot the kit or bought the wrong kit?
“Not so far with the kit, but I did leave the drinking bottles back at the Club when we were away a couple of weeks back and had to spend £40 of my own money to get the players drinks as a result, an expensive error on my part.“
14. What’s been your proudest moment as a Kitman?
“I wouldn’t necessarily say I have proud moments. I think most Kitmen get a great deal of satisfaction from ensuring everything is done correctly and on time. It’s one of a number of jobs that doesn’t really get any limelight, and I’m comfortable with that, I’d rather stay in the background and get on with things.“
15. What characteristics do you need to be a Kitman?
“I think as with any dressing room role, you certainly need to have thick skin because it can get quite near the knuckle at times, so you certainly can’t shy away from that side of things. Organisation and Discretion are pre-requisites for the role, you certainly get to see and hear things that have to stay in the four walls. In addition you have to cover a multitude of roles, sometimes players confide in you, sometimes the Manager will use me as a conduit to get messages in and out of the dressing room in a certain way. Above all else though I would say you have to have plenty of common sense, as with most things in life.“
16. What’s the funniest kit related story you can tell us that has happened to you or you have witnessed?
“Going back 7 or 8 years ago, we were travelling back from an away game on the coach. The Manager at the time had released a player and had asked him to give his training kit and tracksuit to another one of our players, who duly got it back and put it in his car. The coach pulled in to South Mimms Services where the player had parked his car, and the Manager asked me to go with him to collect the kit. Off I go to the other side or the car park, I collected the kit and headed back over to where the coach had dropped us off, but there was no sign of anyone. I rang the Manager and asked where they were; “Back on the M25” was the reply. 20 minutes later the coach pulls back in to the car park after heading to the next junction and turning back. I’m sure you can imagine the reception I got.“
17. Who does the laundry at home?
“Me, of course!”
18. Finally, why do you love being a Kitman?
“Again not sure if love is the right word. But in the 11 seasonsI’ve been doing it I have met lots of people and have made some really good friends for life. The Wealdstone fans are a unique bunch, and for the most part I think they have accepted me in to the family so to speak. There have been one or two times in the past where I’ve thought about calling it a day, I have a fulltime job away from the Club, but it’s the people that keep me here. I’m in a privileged position within a fantastic Club and doing the right thing by them is the reason I do the job.“
Thanks to Tony for taking part in the Q&A. Some very interesting views and insights. Also Tony is the first kit man we have interviewed so far that has a say on the clubs kit designs, and even gets the privilege to go to Italy each year to sign off the final designs!