Good day, Scheidt fans!
If you’ve read any of my previous articles, you’ll be aware of my undying loyalty to Aberdeen Football Club. It all started one fateful day when I was seven and I got to wear the mascot’s costume in the dressing room. A strange reason, yes, but it’s mine.
Since then, for better or worse, through thick and thin, I have stuck by my Dons.
In 2007, I was ecstatic when I landed a summer job in the club shop – from May to September. Of course I knew that it would most involve selling replica strips, doing stock checks and dealing with customers whose IQs are lower than that of an amoeba. But I really felt like I was becoming a part of the club. I believed that I’d learn more about behind-the-scenes and possibly learn some secrets along the way. I may have been naive. But I wasn’t wrong.
Okay, let me clarify, I didn’t discover my own Watergate. The things you’ll read about here aren’t ground-breaking and world-shaking. But they’re a small sample of the interesting things I learned and observed about the people in and around Aberdeen Football Club.
With Age Comes Manners
A slight paraphrase on the well-known phrase, but it is certainly true and never have I been made aware of it more than during my time at AFC.
It was only my second day when I met one of the players. It was the highly-respected veteran Craig Brewster, who would unfortunately leave the club in August of that year. I was standing behind the desk when Craig, rather than using the players entrance, came through the shop and said hi to my manager. He then turned to me and said “I don’t think I’ve met you yet” before introducing himself. After this, whenever I saw him, he would greet me by name.. The man was, and still is by all accounts, a true gentleman. And I fondly remember that when he left the club, he said goodbye to all of us. There were tears from one of my colleagues.
With Youth Comes Undue Cockiness
The most unpleasant part of working at Pittodrie is having to deal with the younger players. Fortunately I hadn’t encountered any of them early on in my tenure – though I had heard stories from other staff members – my shop colleagues, receptionists and ticket office staff.
Then one day, I had to deliver a message to reception. When I got there, the receptionist was reading a newspaper, while a primped and pampered teenager in a leather jacket lay on a nearby sofa. I relayed the message to the receptionist and then we struck up conversation. She commented on the day’s transfer rumours and I gave my opinions. I can’t remember what I speculated on, but I remember the young man letting out some derisive laughter and asking “Well, what the fuck do you know?” The receptionist leant over and asked “Don’t you have somewhere else to be?” To which he replied “How much do you earn? And how much do I? I can be where I want.”
The receptionist gave me a weak smile, and I decided to leave. That pleasant young man was striker Chris Maguire. What a cocky little tit.
Dealing with Pushy Parents
One of my favourite encounters in the shop wasn’t even directly with a player. A few days after the new Aberdeen kit was released, the shop was quite quiet and two middle-aged women walked up to the desk with eight full strips between them. My manager and I scanned it all through and bagged it. The women took the bags and started to leave…without thanking us…or even paying! So my manager called them back and a small argument ensued. It turned out that one of the women was the mother of a player, Peter Pawlett – who is a regular now, but in 2007 had only just signed a youth deal, so was completely unknown.
My manager actually had to phone through to a member of the coaching staff to see if Peter Pawlett was a real person. Now, his mother was under the belief that as the parent of a player, no matter how obscure, she was entitled to anything in the shop for free. To summarise, she lost the argument. I remember standing behind my manager with a huge grin on my face, enjoying this pantomime unfolding before my eyes.
Learning to Feel Sorry
Okay, I’ll admit it. I am one of the Aberdeen fans that for years has been wanting faltering ‘striker’ Darren Mackie to be finally shown the exit door…and thrown out of it head first.
I still feel he is taking up space that could easily be spent on an equally unnecessary fruit pan totem pole, and being paid wages that could easily be spent on pears, prostitutes and pies. But I have learnt to feel incredibly sorry for the beleaguered buffoon.
I was delighted to be given an invitation (despite only being a temporary staff member) to the AFC Summer BBQ – along with the entire admin and playing staff. I attended with my girlfriend and had a fantastic afternoon socialising with many of the players I had wanted to meet. But halfway through the event, a colleague of mine pointed towards a solitary couple sat in the corner. It was Darren Mackie and his partner (wife/fiancée/girlfriend, I am not sure). They spent the entire day sitting down in each other’s company, only socialising with the few who made the effort to initiate conversation with them. It was such a depressing sight, and caused me to pity the forlorn fool. Not only can’t he score more than twice a year, but he’s as awkward as a Fritzl family reunion.
Well, as I said – nothing groundbreaking. But if you’re like me, I love getting a behind-the-scenes peek at what goes on at our beloved football clubs. Whether you’re an Aberdeen fan or not, it doesn’t matter. This article is aimed for those of you who are interested in a small sample of the confessions of an AFC employee.