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Gavin – Humans of Avon and Somerset

I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be employed in the football industry in any capacity, and to do this alongside my role as a call handler is incredible.

Gavin, Call Handler

I’ve been in love with the game of football for as long as I can remember. I was no different than any other young boy who was obsessed with the game, and I always dreamed of being a professional footballer. But as I grew older and reality kicked in, I realised that dream would most likely stay a dream, and so I tried to get involved in other ways such as coaching with my old junior school. I didn’t enjoy the last full-time job I worked, and my wife wanted to help improve my wellbeing. She found an online football scouting course, and I thought it was a fantastic way to be more involved with the game that I love. 

I finished both courses offered, and this eventually led to me completing a two-day intensive course at the Old Trafford Stadium in Manchester. I came out of that course as a fully qualified football scout. The company that I qualified with provide scouting services for football clubs that don’t have in-house scouting teams. Every week they would send a list of fixtures that needed cover; I would pick one that was close for me to visit. I created opposition reports, picking holes in opposing teams and noting their strengths, so that clubs could plan how they would play against them. I did that for about six months until I was more confident in my skills and wanted to work with a singular club. 

Grey-bearded man with glasses wearing a call handler uniform smiles at camera.

Being quite bold, I emailed every football club in the West Country and even the team I’ve supported since I was young, Aberdeen. Only two teams replied! Aberdeen confirmed they already had a scout in the West Country but wished me good luck in my career. The other reply was from Exeter Football Club, who were looking for a scout for their 1st team, but on a part-time basis. This suited me perfectly, and I’ve been with Exeter ever since.  

As a first team recruitment scout, my job is to find players that can join Exeter’s first team and be able to play at their level straightaway. At the start of every season my boss will give me and the other scouts an idea of how Exeter are going to approach the season, and that gives me inspiration when looking for players, picturing how they will fit into our system for the year. I joined before the first lockdown, and so my first few reports were done via video. I would watch videos of games and look at a specific player to write a report about their playing ability. After lockdown restrictions lifted and spectators could watch games again, I would request tickets for games that suited my schedule to watch a player in person and not through a screen.  

Depending on where I go, my treatment by different clubs can vary. I won’t name names, but one club that I visit stick me in the corner out of the way. The view is not particularly good, so I tend to move to a better vantage point as soon as the game starts. On the other hand, another team that I frequent escort me to their VIP lounge on arrival, with complimentary food and drink. A staff member will hand out team sheets, something I must ask for at most other clubs, which lists all players for that match. Every match, the way I am received can be one extreme to the other.  

It’s a little trickier now to balance this role with my main job as a call handler, which I am thoroughly enjoying a lot more than my last job. Previously I worked Monday to Friday, so I could go to the football on a Saturday easily. Despite now working shifts, other opportunities have been presented because I now live close to Bristol. Although I’m an Aberdeen fan, I used to follow Bristol City when I was at school. My scouting boss was keen for me to watch the Bristol City youth team because it’s quite a well-known successful system. In my previous career I couldn’t do that because they always play Tuesdays and Wednesdays. So, while being a call handler might have reduced my availability on a Saturday, I’ve been able to go and watch weekday games when my rest days fall in the right place. Being able to see the training facilities and how many resources are poured into youth development in football is one of the most rewarding parts of the role.  

I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be employed in the football industry in any capacity, and to do this alongside my role as a call handler is incredible. It’s also a great talking point in the control room, as people notice my Exeter F.C jacket, and I can tell them about the role and what it involves. I would like to be a full-time scout one day, but I’m happy where I am right now – to be doing the role part-time is amazing. 

Grey-bearded man with glasses wearing a black Exeter City Football Club shirt stands next to Exeter F.C scarf.