If you ask Wayne Coyle what his role is at Swallownest FC, he’ll tell you that he ‘looks after’ the club’s Under 18 team, which is true enough. He might also say that he is one of the coaches for Swallownest‘s Under 19 teams. That’s also fair enough. If you push him, he might also admit that he provides a ‘bit of a support role’ to Chairman Mick Kent, with particular emphasis on the development of the structure of the Club.
All true; but as with so many of the fantastic volunteers at clubs like Swallownest and Dronfield Town, who meet in TBG’s featured Toolstation NCEL Division One fixture this weekend, Wayne’s role covers pretty much anything and everything. The Bootiful Game’s editor, Craig Kendall, caught up with Wayne ahead of the local derby, and in an interview expertly transcribed by Ellie Dalglish, Wayne took the time to assess the progress that’s been made at Rotherham Road over the last year or so, writes Colin Muncie.
Gentle giant Wayne works full-time in sport as a profession, and has been involved at Swallownest for the last two years. How did he feel that the club had progressed in that time?
“I’m really pleased, close to and away from the team,” he enthused. “We’ve seen strong development in terms of ground improvements. Secondly, and structurally, we now have Under-16s, Under-18s, Under-19s and the First team, whereas a couple of years ago we’d just got the first team and the Under-19s. That’s created a really positive platform for the future. The other development that’s been made is the increasing number of volunteers that are helping with the running of the club. We’ve got a very small, committed – and very effective group of six people – who are now quite a strong structure within each of the junior teams and within the club itself.”
Wayne is a big fan of the player pathway from juniors to the first team, and is delighted by how the first team is progressing under the leadership of Manager Jordan Stocks and Assistant Joel Evans. “Jordan and Joel are doing a fantastic job,” Wayne agreed. “Our aim is to provide a structure underneath them that supports them in every aspect, from a volunteer perspective, other coaches within the club and definitely in terms of future players and opportunities for local – and talented – young people.”
“Our objective on the pitch this year was to stay in this position in the League,” Wayne went on to explain. “Last year was our first season in the NCEL, and we want to build on that with an aim of a top ten finish – but inspirationally top eight. We’re on target for that, but recognise it’s still tough and there’s still a long way to go. We’re really pleased that Joel and Jordan have got together a group of young players that are committed, still developing and have got real potential for the future.”
Asked about his immediate and longer-term plans for the club, Wayne is characteristically clear and concise. “I think for myself, I want to set foundations so we are sustainable with a foothold in the League, and to provide the environment for Jordan, Joel and the players to continue to progress,” he told TBG. “Certainly, we’re aiming for that top eight finish and hopefully an FA Cup place for next season; but after that, providing that platform for us to develop both next year and beyond.”
Swallownest have progressed from the Sheffield and Hallamshire County Senior Premier League two seasons ago to striving for that FA Cup place, and Craig suggested that it was refreshing to see a small club grow both on and off the field. Wayne agreed. “We’re really pleased with that and the support we are getting.” He continued, “we’re getting a good level of support from local companies and we now have somewhere in the region of fifteen sponsors; not high-level sponsors but people who are interested in what’s happening in the community. We’ve got all the players individually sponsored. You know better than me the challenges of football at this level – and particularly wanting to do it with a Community foundation.”
Wayne references Saturday’s clash with Dronfield Town as case in point. “Games like the Dronfield game at the weekend, which we class as a local derby, are really important as part of that challenge,” he explained. “They provide those headlines during the season where we try and get a bit more of a crowd with support from you, which is fantastic. What’s really nice is that generic support and Dronfield are perhaps something we aspire to; they’re a well-organised local club, central to the community that does things the right way. That’s why it’s nice to play them in a derby because you’ve got two like-minded clubs with a growing support and similar values. If I’m honest, we’d like to have an increased support and that’s one area we’ve got to do some work on still. We’re averaging around eighty a game and we want to get that to about 120 per game. That’s easier said than done, as you know, but games like Saturday’s are vital and will hopefully help us going in that direction.”
Wayne closed with kind words for TBG and the sponsors and volunteers at Swallownest FC. “I really appreciate your support,” he insisted, “and also the people who are working for and supporting the club.”
“We’ve got a long way to go, but looking at where we are, it’s really positive.”
Come and see what all the fuss is about at Rotherham Road at 3pm this Saturday; and don’t forget that by downloading the promotional flyer (club Websites) to your mobile and showing it at the turnstile, adults attending with an Under-16 qualify for discounted admission.