As a new season dawns in the ChromaSport & Trophies United Counties League, one chairman has made a return to a club that clearly means a lot to him.
Stewart Glendenning is back at the helm at Division One outfit Burton Park Wanderers after previous chairman Kenny Gordon stepped down at Latimer Park.
Joe Smyth resigned as manager soon after, leaving new boss Jimmy Simpson a short space of time to throw together a squad in preparation for this weekend’s opener at Olney Town.
What was only going to be a quick conversation between myself and Glendenning about the new start at Burton, however, soon turned into an interesting chat about all things UCL.
And what followed were some forthright views, particularly surrounding player loyalty in the lower reaches of non-League football.
Indeed, Glendenning, who is adamant no-one will be paid to play at his club, believes a “transfer window” should be introduced to enable clubs like his to hold on to players even when other teams offering money come along.
“I was told socially that Kenny Gordon was stepping down and and that Sam Gordon was doing the same for her own personal reasons,” Glendenning said.
“Steve Harding took over in the interim and I was asked to come back. I had a think about it because there is a lot that goes with being a chairman no matter what club you are at.
“I was happy to come back, the club means a lot to me but it has been hard since then because we didn’t have any players.
“I can’t comment on what happened before because I wasn’t here but we have Jimmy Simpson and Spencer Newcombe in as manager and assistant-manager respectively and they have worked hard to recruit some good players.
“They played some very good football in a 5-1 win against Kettering Nomads on Tuesday and Jimmy is no fool, he knows how he wants to play and I know the players will be encouraged to play the game on the grass.
“I can confidently say that we will have a team that will be competitive in Division One, which is always a tough league to be in.
“There will be some teams who will pay a bit of money but my stance on the whole thing is that while I am here, there will not be one single player who will receive one pence from us.
“That’s the way it is at this club and that’s the way it should stay as well.
“We have a number of great coaches at the club who give their time for nothing to teach young people how to play the game.
“And we have a lot of teams as well as the first team to think about and support.
“I will certainly be there to support our first team and Jimmy and Spencer home and away because that’s what a chairman does.
“The thing that pleases me the most about our first team squad is the number of local Burton Latimer lads who are in there.
“We have boys who were with us when we were in turmoil and playing at Rothwell Town and they are still here, which is great.
“If one of our players gets a chance to play at a higher level and for money then fine.
“But the money being thrown about is becoming a massive problem in the UCL and there are too many clubs out there saying they will pay £20 just to get a player to them.
“And that has, in turn, resulted in players selling themselves for what is virtually nothing.
“I would really like to see a transfer window brought in at this level because that would bring a bit of loyalty back into it and stop players travelling from club-to-club like they currently do.
“As a club, we are trying to build something here and I look at our under-14 and under-15 teams at the moment and I want to see them progressing through to the first team in a couple of years.
“But making that happens becomes harder when money is tossed around.
“There has to be some loyalty. We, like every other club, have a lot of volunteers who do everything to make sure there can be games of football.
“How do you think they feel when a player turns round and says he is off because someone down the road is offering him £20?
“If there was a transfer window, that sort of thing would stop.”
Glendenning is also keen to hammer home the social side of the game at his club and ensure all the clubs who visit Latimer Park this season and in ones to follow enjoy their day.
He explained: “While I am here, everyone will be welcomed with open arms simply because it is a game of football.
“Whether it is players, managers, officials or supporters, we want them to come to our club and have a good day, whether their team wins or loses.
“The social side of things has changed for the worse. There was a time that players would play hard and fair and then talk it over with a bite to eat and a drink afterwards.
“Nowadays, you are lucky if a player comes in and buys a can of coke.
“But when they come to Burton, everyone will be catered for.
“I want clubs to come here knowing that we will look after them. If they look back and have enjoyed their day, regardless of the result, then I will be a very happy man.”
Burton, of course, are not alone at Latimer Park at the moment with Kettering Town currently residing in Polwell Lane following an agreement between the two clubs, which allowed the Poppies to try to get back on their feet after almost going out of business last year.
As has been well documented, Kettering are currently in the process of eyeing up a return to their hometown at the Avondale School site.
But while they are at Latimer Park, Glendenning insists Wanderers will continue to work with them in a partnership, which he believes “works well”.
“As far as Kettering Town are concerned, I was the one who originally spoke to Ritchie Jeune in the first instance and those conversations obviously went further after I left,” he added.
“They are good tenants and we enjoy having them at Latimer Park, it is a partnership that works well.
“I don’t know what will happen moving forward, I have obviously seen the situation that may be developing with the Avondale School site back in Kettering.
“If they decide to move on I will wish them well. My main concern is Burton Park Wanderers and we, like many, strive to one day be as big a club as Kettering are. But we have to start from the bottom and build.
“We have great respect for Kettering Town and we will continue to support them here. And when the time comes that they move on, hopefully they will look back and know that when they were in their hour of need, we were there to help. If that happens then we will be happy.”
ChromaSport & Trophies United Counties League weekend fixtures
Premier Division: AFC Kempston v Boston Town, Deeping v Long Buckby, Harrowby v Wellingborough Town, Holbeach v Desborough, Newport Pagnell v Desborough, Oadby v Eynesbury, Thurnby Nirvana v Cogenhoe, Wisbech v Harborough, Yaxley v Peterborough Northern Star.
Division One: Bourne v Irchester, Bugbrooke v Thrapston, Lutterworth Athletic v Blackstones, Northampton Spencer v Potton, Olney v Burton Park Wanderers, Peterborough Sports v Buckingham, Rothwell Corinthians v ON Chenecks, St Neots Saints v Rushden & Higham, Stewarts & Lloyds v Whitworth, Woodford United v Raunds.
Find news from all of our local United Counties League clubs in our eight-page pull-out previewing the start of the new season in this week’s Northamptonshire Telegraph, available now