You know that guy who descends on you seconds after you’ve parted with your entry fee and bought your programme – yep, that guy – the one who promises you that you have bought the winner only to disappoint you by half-time? Correct. The raffle guy.
As part of our ‘HEM-ATH 360-Action All Areas’ special feature, Ellie Dalglish caught up with Hemsworth Volunteer, Steve Poulson ahead of him going on duty for today’s Toolstation NCEL Premier Division clash at home to Athersley Recreation.
Steve Poulson, son of fellow volunteer Tony, is infamous amongst home supporters and the away fans alike. Each home match, Steve has an extraordinary list of items to remember and recite a good few dozen times later… Yes! He’s the latest Wells superhero to undergo interrogation: it’s Raffle Man, writes Ellie Dalglish for the Bootiful Game.
“I must have been fifteen or sixteen when I first started to go training. Because it’s a community club and local village club, that’s where my mates – Mick Crapper, Shaun Pugh and everybody who’s involved with the club now – more or less all played when we were young. Going through from early age training then playing football, I was mainly playing with the second team but I did get a chance to play with the first team for a couple of years.”
“I used to play left back but I wasn’t very good! Well, I wasn’t too bad. I could tackle more than I could play football. In those days it counted for a lot if you could do that! I never used to venture forward much – but I used to stop the other person from playing. That was my job.”
“Then you get too old, you get courting and things change but the club’s always been in the village and we’ve all gone through a stage playing football and then being involved with the club.”
“Present day, being on the committee, my first job when I go up there [to the club] is to put the flags up and just make sure everybody is welcomed and I go around speaking with the fans.”
“After that, it’s going around doing the raffle during the first half. My involvement in seeing the game is very sparse for that first half as it’s getting a lot longer for me doing the raffle because we’re getting raffle prizes that just keep adding and adding and adding! When I come back, and it’s time to do the raffle prize draw – which is the best raffle prize in non-league, by the way – it’s half time.”
“At the end of the game, it’s down to me, my dad [Tony Poulson] and Tony Benson to clean the changing rooms and mop them out. I’m the last person out of the changing rooms, back into the pub and that’s the top and bottom of what I do.”
“It’s challenging. Even for the away matches, with Mick [Crapper, the man behind the building of the clubhouse] being in a wheelchair and me driving mostly, it’s nice now and again to get away trips on buses because that’s the only time I really get to go and have a drink and enjoy watching the game. I don’t mind! I’d travel everywhere with Mick in the car, making sure the fans get to where we need to be.”
Poey [Steve’s nickname] is football mad but I had a problem recalling which team that was… Barnsley? Or Sheffield Wednesday? I received an indignant reply:“Barnsley? You’ve seen the big crest, the badge on the flag! It’s Leeds United.”
Poey calmed himself down, composed himself and continued like the gent he is.
“I get to [Leeds’] away matches as much as I can. It’s funny because, mainly I will go and watch Wells every Saturday, home and away. When it comes to midweek matches – and they always put Leeds at places like Brighton or Brentford – I always go to away matches on a Tuesday, watching Leeds. I take the day off work and do it that way. More often than not now with Leeds the day change is to a Sunday, a Friday, whatever day. I do get to see Leeds as much as I get to see Welfare but my Saturdays are with Hemsworth Miners Welfare.”
“With the club we all want to strive to get to that next step. I think from where we’ve come over the last ten years to where we are now, we’ve been spoiled. The manager [Wayne Benn] has taken us to this position, and we’re now expecting more. We know we’ve got a manager who can deliver and I know for a fact now, that we’ve got a team who can deliver also. In football we may have our off days but, when you look at us on paper, we’re a very good side.”
So, if you’re thinking of sanding down your skirting boards or are short of a veg for Sunday lunch, bob down to the NuBuilds Stadium on a Saturday. Watch an entertaining Wells side who can deliver, buy your raffle ticket and hope you get to win the prize that may well just include a pack of sandpaper and a swede!