Steve King has been the defensive rock upon which Concord Rangers rise up the non-league football pyramid has been based.
Since joining the club from 2009 from Welling, Steve or Kingy as he is known around the club, now captains the side. His aerial prowess in both boxes makes him integral at set-pieces, and Kingy has weighed in with his fair share of goals.
As a firefighter, Steve is used to dealing with emergencies and keeping a calm head when the pressure is on, ideal experience for a centre half! I asked Steve what it was like performing both roles...
As a fireman and footballer, you're living out some schoolboy/girl dreams. Does it feel like that at times, or do you just see it as a day job, and night job? Did you always want to be one of these professions when growing up?
I wasn't someone who grew up dreaming of being a firefighter or footballer. I was never at a professional club as a kid and always played for my love of competing and winning and that has helped me progress up the pyramid. The fire service wasn't a calling for me but something I came across and quite fancied and as my application for the job progressed it become something I fell in love with, and to this day after 10 years no one will ever hear me say anything different to 'I love my job'.
You joined Concord in 2009. How has the club changed in that time? Has the set-up become more professional?
Since joining I have to say the club has progressed hugely both off and on the pitch, from the standard of Jaynes food after the game to the fantastic effort all of our committee and volunteers put in. Saying this however, the club is very close knit and very much like a family and that has never and will never change.
That's something I noted as well, the family vibe at the club. What does being captain of Concord mean to you?
Being captain means a lot to me. I would never have appreciated it as much when I was younger but as I've matured I enjoy being a player manager/chairman liaison and love my responsibilities on the pitch. Saying that, I'm a firm believer that a team should have 11 captains on the pitch and that's what we have.
Not only having the responsibility of captaining Concord, but you've also represented the Fire Brigade at regional and national level, that must have been a great honour?
It meant a lot to represent the fire service for London, England and the UK with the pinnacle being reaching the final of a European championship in Rotterdam and winning player of the tournament. This honour was cut short for me due to family commitments and work life becoming more difficult to get time off to play, but to play against Scotland especially as well as a final against Germany (which we typically lost on penalties) was a great experience.
Those bloody Germans!! Have you ever missed a game due to an emergency at the Fire Brigade? If so when?
I'm very lucky to have never missed a game as I use all my holiday for the year on game days. I did however have a big fire one day which completely drained all my energy so when it came to play Tonbridge away that night I had to be honest with Dan and sit on the bench as I would have let the team down. Turns out I came on up front for the last 5 minutes and scored a dramatic late equaliser so it worked out well.
You say that you use all your holiday up on playing football. Does that come as a cost to Mrs K? Do you actually have a holiday away with her and your family? If not, is she ok with that?
Yeah I can do exchange duties so if we want to go away I can basically swap my shifts. To be honest we are tending to do 2 day (overnight) city breaks as it's extremely difficult to get time off for say 1 or 2 weeks for a beach holiday. I train 2 times a week and work 2 nights a week so she hates not seeing me much but understands if I'm not playing I'm a sod to live with so accepts me being away. The plus side of my work is I get 4 days off after my 2 days and 2 nights so I get to spend lots of time with my daughter Ivy which is amazing.
You have a full-on life, what do you do to unwind?
I rarely get time to unwind with a 2 year old daughter, football, work and my wife's business, but if I do get some time it would usually be spent having friends over for dinner and a few glasses of wine, golf or travelling and seeing new places around the world.
What about music is that something you listen to?
I love 70's and 80's music especially a bit of Madness.
What is the taste of music like in the dressing room? As Captain do you pull rank at times, and crank up the Madness?
I don't mind the boys choice of tunes in the changing room to be fair but couldn't tell you what it was or how I should move to it, and for this reason I may only pull rank once a season!
What has been your proudest moment as a Concord player, and equally your most embarrassing? Have you made a mistake you still cringe about?
I cringe every-time I train. If training involved copious amounts of head tennis it wouldn't be so bad. My performance a couple of years ago against Lewes at home after giving them a goal after 30 seconds was also a low point. My proudest moment was winning the play off final against Lowestoft away and scoring has to be the one. The feeling of shock, elevation and ecstasy after can never ever be replicated as far as I'm concerned.
How far can Concord go? What do you believe is a realistic ambition?
I don't think anyone at the club is under any illusions that it would be extremely difficult to play at a higher level than what we are. The club though has a big heart and people would have said the same when we were in the Ryman League. The staff, management and players we have will always give 110% and as a team we will be competitive at any level as we proved against league 2 Mansfield this season but we have to progress slowly and surely. I'd personally love to see the club playing Conference Premier football.
After speaking to Ant and Danny (Chairman and Manager respectively) it's clear there is a "Concord way" of playing the game, and conducting themselves. In your role as Captain, do you feel it's your job to drill this into the players, and keep them focused?
I agree that there is a certain mentality around the club which is a winning one but I think how we play can be misconstrued. We have had to, as a small club, win ugly and be big, strong and resolute to get where we are. Now though I really think we are a good footballing, entertaining side but know how to mix it when we need to due to our background. People may say differently but I have never thought I was a fantastic footballer but personally I will always give 100% and do anything to drag a performance out of myself even if I'm having one of those days on the pitch. Experience is a great thing to have in football and allows me to be an organiser on the pitch. Winning means everything to me personally and for my club and I hope that younger players can see how much it means to me and use that to help them become better players. There is so much talent out there in the world of football but all too often I have seen it wasted on people who don't have the right attitude so hopefully mine on the pitch will wear off on those around me.
Firefighter. Dedicated footballer. Family man. All-round good guy. Steve King is a captain that Concord Management, players and fans alike can be proud of.