It is often said that non-league clubs are only as strong as the volunteers they possess but one volunteer went above and beyond for EBAC Northern League club Jarrow Roofing this weekend.
The South Tyneside based club are a fine example of what volunteers can offer a non-league club.
Whether it be their tea hut ran by the Jan McLoughlin, wife of club founder and manager Richie.
Then there is Richie himself, a man that built everything that the club owns from scratch, including the clubhouse, the stands and the changing rooms.
Or maybe you could consider the club’s impressive media team ran by Andy Hudson, who produce media output that would not look out of place higher up the league pyramid.
And it is Hudson himself that is at the centre of a unique occurance that happened in the Roofing’s final pre-season friendly this weekend.
Hudson performs a number of roles with the club including vice-chairman, communications and media manager and goalkeeping coach and after the club’s 1-1 draw with Wearside League Hartlepool FC he now has another role to add to that list.
Just after half time Roofing keeper Andrew Jennison was forced off with a calf injury and with no other keeper amongst the substitutes, Hudson put down his mobile phone, put on some gloves and took his place between the sticks for the second half.
That brought to an end the Roofing’s Twitter coverage of the game, a move explained in a tweet that went viral shortly after the game.
Sorry for no updates during the game after half-time. The lad handling the account had to go in goal.
— Jarrow Roofing FC (@TheRoofing) July 30, 2016
And Hudson explained the circumstances behind his surprise appearance.
He said “On Saturdays I wouldn’t usually be handling the Twitter account because of coaching. I spend most of the game watching what our keeper does. But the other lads involved with our media team couldn’t make the game so I was left alone to run the tweets.
“Hartlepool were fairly committed and played a good containing game in the first half. But then I noticed Andy Jennison, our keeper, holding his calf just inside the second half. Anth Myers had to take a goalkick for him so I ran round behind the goal to find out what was happening.
“Andy said he’d strained his calf so with the FA Cup match against North Shields next Saturday, we just said for him to go down.
“The only problem is that the only people available to go on were me, Richie, assistant manager Ian Davison and Head of Coaching and Development Paul Johnson. And I was the only keeper amongst us. We’d already had to take lads off who’d suffered knocks.
“So after frantically getting stripped – but with our gear across in the changing rooms and no time to get sorted – I was subbed on for Andy”
That substitution saw Hudson make his first appearance in an 11-a-side game for almost eight years, with his last appearance coming in a Sunday League game for The Ship Inn, a pub that can be found in Monkseaton in North Tyneside.
He revealed that he had joked earlier in pre-season that Roofing manager Richie McLoughlin may have to play some part in pre-season, without realising that he would actually have to carry out that task himself.
“I joked with Richie at the start of pre-season about him going on” said Hudson.
“I think his last game was against Bootle in the FA Cup when he was the competition’s oldest player at the time. But I didn’t think that it would be me playing in any game.
“At the start of last season I took on the role of goalkeeper coach at the club.
I hadn’t played to much of a level and Sunday League football had just got in the way of Saturday night drinking when I called it quits on my 11s career. But I love being involved working on the training pitch and with the lads before the game”
As Hudson made his way to the visitors’ goal he was given one piece of advice.
Roofing midfielder Jamie Marshall simply asked him to “keep a clean sheet”, although that request was not carried out, with Hudson revealing his annoyance at Hartlepool’s equaliser.
“Jamie Marshall’s first words were to keep the clean sheet but we got done on a disputed offside call.
“I thought it was off but the lad’s done well when one-on-one with me and just lifted it to my side to score.
“Other than that and a last-kick-of-the-game save, I only had a few kicks. It was good to add another name to my title at the club”
After the game Hudson joked that he is catching up with his workaholic boss McLoughlin in the amount of roles he has carried out with the club, although did concede he had a fair way to go yet if he was to catch up.
“It was good to add another name to my title at the club. I think I’m only about 87 job roles behind Richie now! He does everything at the club so if I get a chance to help out in any way then I take it.
“I was programme editor last season but I’ve just had to pass that over to James at the club as I don’t have the time.
“If you think about it, we’re playing Saturday and Tuesday then training on Thursday so that’s a big time commitment as well, and I keep working in the local community trying to get South Tynesiders interested in affordable, local football. Vice-chairman, media manager, commercial director, goalkeeper coach. It’s not too bad going!”
With the new season just under a week away and an FA Cup tie at North Shields on the horizon does Hudson expect to get a first competitive appearance for the club he has served for the past three years?
“Andy Jennison will be fit for Saturday so at least the only pitch time I get then is his pre-match warm up. We looked hard at the goalkeeping situation at the start of the season and he was the player we wanted. Luckily he’ll be back in his position where I’d want to see him rather than the touchline!