As we all know, the club is only ever as strong as it’s volunteers, and the matchday stewards are integral to the successful functioning of the club. Caroline Smith is one of our regular matchday stewards, and can usually be found helping out around Gate B, with along with fellow steward (and husband!) Graham. We caught up with Caroline recently and asked her a few questions…
What persuaded you to get involved with FC Isle of Man, and how long have you been volunteering for?
In short, my husband. Until I got involved with the Ravens, football wasn’t really on my radar. Graham, however, is a keen footy fan and he even did some stewarding for his beloved Huddersfield Town. When the opportunity arose for him to steward here, he took it and when I realised it was going to mess my Saturday nights up anyway, I decided I may as well come along and make myself useful. So back in November 2021, which I think was one of, if not the first home league game, we both turned up for duty and we’ve been on duty for as many home games as possible ever since.
What is your usual matchday routine and what are your duties?
Matchdays are pretty busy. After yoga class and weekend household chores, it’s time to check the weather (because that determines what outwear goes on!) and head to the Bowl for about 4.00pm. Usually my first duty is to put up the advertising banners. After that, I’ll check we have everything we need down on gate B and once we open the gate, I’ll be busy scanning tickets and generally keeping an eye on fans entering and leaving the ground. Of course, I mustn’t forget my most important duty – getting a round of teas and coffees in for my fellow stewards!
Do you get a chance to watch the game or are you busy watching the crowd?
How much of the game I see really depends on how busy the ground is. I would say I might see about 20 minutes, which doesn’t sound like very much, but I am mindful that my first job is really looking after the gate. Also, I am happy to give my fellow stewards more opportunity to see the game as I know how keen they are to watch!
Are there any moments that particularly stand out for during your time volunteering for FC Isle of Man?
The moments that stand out for me include, ‘that’ game against West Didsbury in the 2021/22 season – need I say anymore? In that same season we were in the play-offs, of course, which were the busiest games. Between taking tickets and then marshalling fans in and out of the ground as the need arose, I don’t think I saw more than five minutes of either play-off game. Also, as a steward, looking after the Bury fans last season was pretty memorable as it was the first time we had segregated areas.
Mostly the away fans come through your gate B, are they friendly on the whole or have there ever been any problems?
One thing I enjoy about my gate B duties is the chance to meet the away fans. I think just once we had a rather tipsy gentleman whom we guided out of the ground with the help of one of the security guards. Other than that, they have all been a great bunch of people to meet. I can’t remember which game it was now, but one away fan did give me a big kiss on the cheek after the game and said ‘thank you’! It’s always nice to be appreciated!
Where do you think FC Isle of Man will finish this season?
If they’d let me be referee we’d finish top of the table, but realistically, I think we’ll be mid-table.
What keeps you occupied when you’re not volunteering for FC Isle of Man?
When I’m not volunteering for FC Isle of Man, or working, for that matter, I can usually be found getting involved with Manx National Heritage. I take part in their Labyrinth productions, writing scripts and acting out stories about the Isle of Man for their interactive and educational tours. If I ever win an Oscar, I promise not to forget my friends at FC IOM!
And final question Official Mascot Ted Bear or Unofficial Mascot Raymond Raven?
No contest! As wonderful as they both are, for me it’s Raymond, always Raymond!