Tuesday, 26 May 2015

An Interview with ... Ant Smith

      Under Antony Smith's stewardship Concord Rangers have risen through the non-league ranks at a rate of knots.  When Antony took over the Chairmanship Concord were plying their trade in the Essex Senior League and as Anthony celebrates his 15th year in charge - Concord finished 7th in the Conference South only missing out on the promotion play-offs by a few points.

     It has been a meteoritic rise for the Canvey based club, and whilst the Chairman was enjoying a well earned holiday he gladly answered some questions about running the club, and how the Concord "spirit" is fostered.

      Celebrating 15 years as Chairman of the Football club this week, can you describe your emotions at this time?  Looking back at your first week, in your wildest dreams could you imagine the club would be where it is now?

I took over when the club was pretty much rock bottom in always, on and off the pitch so its been a real roller coaster ride.
We would never of dreamed of becoming a Conference club never !

Every player I've spoken to, has always commented on the Concord spirit and that it's driven by you. How does that make you feel?

Its fantastic that the lads feel that but it’s the collective of people that are involved that keep that spirit going and maybe my discovery recently of the “meaning of Concord” helps explain it also! (unison, harmony, unanimity, happy family) 

The family feel of the club, was that something you were keen to instigate when you took over the Chairmanship?

Yes my family (Albert, Chris and my Dad and his brother Clive were all instrumental in the building of the club and I played from aged 7 till 24 (retired injured).
So it was in my blood to carry it on and keep the family feel.

      What has been your proudest moment as Chairman of the football club?
      There are so many but I still have to say gaining promotion from the Essex Senior League as the club had tried a few times but were knocked back due to our proximity to the then gas terminal, but where there’s a will there’s a way(I don’t give up easily) !
Obviously the win at Lowestoft and the 1st Essex Senior Cup win over Braintree are up there too.

Obviously the summer saw Danny Cowley leave the club after 8 years, how hard was it for you when he decided to leave for Braintree?

I knew it would come eventually but even when it did it was still a massive shock to all of us at the club, but 8 years is a long time and maybe it was the right time for a freshen up for both him and the club.
But we wish him, Nicky and all the family the best for the future.

However football moves on, how happy are you that Adam Flanagan has accepted the manager's role, and what are you hoping he can bring to Concord?

Adam was number 1 on my list from the moment Danny left, we have kept in contact since his time at the club and I like the way he goes about his football business and I know he understands the way we like to do things at the club
He will be the opposite too Danny as you will not see him running up and down the touchline shouting and screaming at players and officials (this will probably disappoint some home and away supporters lol) 

A lot of work is being done at Concord to reach out into the community (Community day against St Albans, Conference play off final tickets) How important is it for the progression of Concord that the club actively engages with the community

Yes this is the next most important initiative at the club and Phil Crowe and his team have done a great job to date and there is lots in the pipeline for it to progress

      In relation to the above, is this how Concord can improve attendances.  There's some fantastic football, and footballers on show at every home game.  How can the club get the message out there?

Again yes, getting the local community more involved in our different projects will definitely bring more interaction and once we get them here to see a game they tend to return (as you know)

      What do you like to do in your spare time (do you have any!)  How much work is actually put into running a football club, as well as a business.

Contrary to others beliefs I play golf a couple of times a month on average, of course a lot of hard work goes into the club and juggling it with running a business all over the UK can be testing at times, but I have some terrific people around me who will all run through walls for Concord.

How is the golf going, what is your handicap?  Who is your favourite professional golfer?  

My handicap is 14 but if I could get out more frequently I would probably be around 11, I love watching Rory McIlroy but Ian Poulter has the Concord type spirit!

Do you play with anyone else at the club, and if so, who do you keep on taking money off!

That’s a sore subject because we all play and I love taking the money!

Looking at the owners of professional football clubs, and even other businessmen....are they're any you admire.  Or do you see yourself as your own man, with his own ideals?

I wouldn’t say anyone in particular in pro football, I like to see myself as a little bit of Sugar & Branson as I can be a nasty sod but also the nicest fella to those who treat me the right way.

As the interview concluded, Concord have brought in three young players for next season who are keen to improve and better themselves. The Concord way.  The club will give you an opportunity to play and enjoy your football.  A proper family club, run the correct way.

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