Non-league football fan Carl Jones is planning a book based on the fortunes of New Mills this season.
Carl is a stand-up comedian and writer who has performed stand-up on BBC Radio 4 Extra as part of the BBC New Comedy Awards, and is a regular writer for The News Quiz and other sketch and topical comedy shows on BBC Radio 4.
When not working, Carl enjoys travelling around the country visiting non-league grounds, and first came across the Millers when he appeared at a venue in New Mills last year, and became aware of the publicity surrounding their league form.
As he had been writing blogs on his travels about his non-league experiences for a couple of years, the Millers’ plight last season meant that he took an interest in their fortunes, and gradually came round to the idea of writing a book based on the club as a natural progression from his blog posts.
“I’ve spent the last two seasons going to each round of the FA Cup from August onwards for The Underdog Blog (theunderdogblog.com) and came across so many fantastic stories doing this”, Carl explained.
“The majority of them were at non-league level and almost exclusively involved the people behind the clubs – the volunteers who give up so much time and effort to make sure everything is in place for Saturday afternoon and the fans who follow their side home and away.
“I decided that I wanted to do something focusing on one club for a whole season and the idea to approach New Mills came about early last season. As a stand-up comedian, I travel around the country most weekends and often check to see how the local football team is getting on out of habit.
“Last October, when hosting a show at Chalkers Snooker Club, New Mills were already in the mire at the bottom of the league and I kept an eye on them for the rest of the season. I also saw the unfortunate and entirely unfair national media coverage their season received, as they became caricatured as ‘the worst team in England’.
“This curiosity as to how the club would recover from such a difficult season, as well as instinctively knowing there would be so many more interesting stories to discover beyond the lazy headlines, led me to contact the New Mills Chairman Ray and Secretary Sue about the idea – and I’m so pleased I did!
“From day one I’ve had such a warm welcome from everyone at the club and it’s allowed me to explore some of the reasons behind why last season was so difficult, and how much work is going into rebuilding for the future.
“Behind the scenes, Ray and Sue work tirelessly alongside a small group of volunteers and their commitment is inspiring. Without people like them, there wouldn’t be a club and they understandably take the criticism to heart.
“I’m confident what I’m writing will help redress the balance in some small way, by telling the real story behind a small community club, and the work that goes into keeping things running 365 days a year”.
So far, Carl has had plenty to write about, with the Millers recording their first win in over a season alongside some high scoring games, heavy defeats and a managerial change all in the first few months of the season.
“It’s been an eventful season so far”, he admitted. “Former Manager Garry Brown had built a strong squad and solid foundations alongside Assistant Paul Williams and the atmosphere at Church Lane when that long-awaited win arrived on the opening day of the season was incredible.
“After Garry stepped down, Paul has taken the reins as part of a management team and is continuing that work.
“His experience is impressive, having played at every level of the game. It’s been a season of fine margins for the most part and recent weeks have been difficult but there’s a good squad of players there and a couple of promising recent additions that I’m confident will guide the club up the table and into a much-needed period of consolidation in the coming months.
“I’m not a sports journalist, I’m a stand-up comedian who happens to love football, and the story is written from that perspective.
“I’ve had some interest from literary agents so far and will start looking for a publisher in the New Year but I’m open for offers!
“Whatever happens, I’m really pleased with how it’s gone so far, and I’m excited to see the ending unfold as the season continues”.