For the love of the game

Mike Grimshaw meets some of the people who keep grassroots football alive

Globe Rangers FC

Globe Rangers administrators Ged and Christine Walker, with first team coach Ben Kotey, at the club’s George White Sports Ground in Billet Road, Walthamstow

I’m sure you’ve heard people complain that “footballers nowadays are vastly overpaid”. Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself. But what about those footballers who are not paid at all, in fact who pay to play?

Yes, believe it or not, amateur football is still alive and kicking. I work for the Amateur Football Alliance, and one of our member clubs in Waltham Forest is Globe Rangers, situated at the George White Sports Ground in Billet Road, Walthamstow.

While on the other side of the River Lea thousands of fans flock to see the multi-millionaires of Tottenham Hotspur play, I went down one Saturday afternoon to see Globe Rangers take on Old Tollingtonians FC in the Senior 3 North Division of the Amateur Football Combination (AFC) league.

At the game I met club administrators Ged Walker and his wife Christine, plus Ben Kotey, the manager of the men’s first team. Ged told me the club was originally formed around the Globe Tavern, Stratford, in the late 1800s, and later reformed in 1953. Ron Hunt was the main man in those days, up until the late 1970s, when it folded again for a while. Then Ged got involved in the early 1980s and has been to the present day.

Ged’s company, G&M Services, sponsors the club and matches any donations with its own donations. The club has ten coaching staff, all in a totally voluntary capacity. Apart from those involved in running or playing for the club, a handful of spectators attend each game. When I pressed him on the subject, Ged admitted: “The club does take up quite a bit of mine and Christine’s time; Tuesday evenings, Saturdays, Sundays, plus time spent on administration.”

The club has a men’s first team and veterans’ team. The first team was promoted last season, having won the AFC Intermediate Division. The adult players come from a variety of professions and include chauffeurs, stock brokers, plumbers, carpenters, accountants and bankers.

There are also seven youth teams, with about 15 youngsters in each squad. The club tries to cater especially for kids from low-income and/or single-parent families, as well as children with special needs, by helping with costs. The benefits of this for the community can be considerable.

While Globe Rangers have been based at George White Sports Ground for 15 years, the players train in Drapers Field. Ged told me: “We aim to provide affordable football in a safe environment.

“The club is a benefactor of Haven House Children’s Hospice, for whom we hold a charity match every so often.”

Globe Rangers are one of dozens of amateur football clubs in Waltham Forest. So why not support your community and play, volunteer, or just turn up and watch?

Oh, and in case you were wondering about the match, it ended Globe Rangers 3 Old Tollingtonians 3!

To find out more about Globe Rangers and to get involved: