Captains in professional football are there to drive on the team by clenching their fists, screwing up their faces and screaming at everyone. They occasionally break an opponent's leg to show everyone how passionate they are.
In amateur football the captain is rather different. Your job is to organise the team to make sure they get to the right place on the right day at the right time. This sounds obvious, but I've played away games which kicked off late because the home team went to the wrong ground!
How many players can I use?
You should aim to have 11 players on the pitch at all times. Again, this isn't a given at the Vampires thanks to players who are disorganised or hot-headed, but sometimes the best games are the ones where you only have eight men and the opposition STILL can't beat you! You can have up to three subs if you can find them, and rolling substitutions are allowed so you can come off and go back on again which is particularly helpful for smokers.
Referees in the Premier League fuck up all the time. Even with two linesmen they still make glaring errors. In our football you mostly wont' have linesmen and the referees will be somewhat other than the best in the world. I don't know why but the refs in SAL Junior Division 4 North are never the same as the ones in the Champions League. Something to do with international clearance I expect...
Anyway, they might be shit at times, but be patient because it's very unlikely they're doing it on purpose. It also helps our cause if we get into trouble. Despite having a fearsome reputation, the Vamps seem to be quite popular among referees. I am always being told how much they've enjoyed coming to Coppetts Road, and I'm even more surprised when they tell me they reffed Ali Jones...
What makes a good captain?
A good captain is well organised, and has a weekly routine which helps them make sure everything is done when it needs to be. The captain will contact other officers if information is missing, or to confirm changes, and he will make sure all of his players know where to be and when.
In running the team you'll need to have a sense of humour and be able to get on with it even when people are dicking you about. If you need help, ask one of the committee members. They won't do anything useful but at least you'll get it off your chest. In all seriousness, if you have problem with someone refusing to play, or not paying up, etc, please speak to a senior member of the club who can gather a lynch mob and hang them upside down by their ankles, shaking all their valuables out of their pockets. We don't have a Welfare Officer anymore, so there's nobody for them to complain to.
wHAT DO i DO ON THE DAY?
Assuming you remembered to tell everyone where to be and when, make sure you also get where you need to be at the right time. It's good to be at the club earlier than everyone else so you can practice looking the part and stuff. You can also write out your team sheet and match card so you don't have to do it leaning on some poor sod's back, poking your through the paper and writing on their shirt.
When the oppo and the ref arrive make sure you introduce yourself and tell them where their changing rooms are and which pitch you'll be on. It's a good idea to collect any subs, fines or fees BEFORE the game, so people can't disappear straight afterwards claiming they 'forgot' to pay.
While you're getting changed, choose who will put the nets up and who will put the flags out. The easiest thing to do is get the back four and the goalkeeper to put the nets up, the midfielders to put the flags out and the strikers to make sure the ball is pumped up and given to the referee. Substitutes are responsible for making sure there is a working lighter for half-time fags.
During the game
If you want you can get some other mug to lead the team on the pitch. There are usually a few out there who don't like doing the organising but do like bellowing clichés at their team mates. These include "come lads, we gotta put it in!", "110% lads, gotta want it!" and the classic "Take him out!!!!!".
If you do lead on the pitch, you are the person to speak to the referee. Everyone else needs to shut up and let the ref do his/her job. After the game, you should lead the team in a chorus of cheers for the oppo, eg: "Three cheers for Old Stationers, hip hip - hooray! hip hip - hooray! hip hip - hooray!". If you win you can always sing the club song which will be included in the newsletter during the season.
After the game
After the game you should get yourself to the side of the pitch nearest the club house and play sheep dog to stop the lazy fuckers escaping without gathering the flags and the nets.
Back in the club you need to make sure you pay the referee £34 for SAL games and £35 for AFA. Linesmen get £26. You then need to complete you match card which you hand in at the bar or to a committee member. The match card is where you say who played, paid, got booked or sent off and scored goals. You also have to give the referee a mark out of 100 but beware, if you give him/her less than 61 you'll have to submit a report and that means writing, which few Vampires know how to do.
reporting your result
You have to tell the club, obviously, but you also have to report your result to the SAL or the AFA.
Fifteen minutes after your match starts you will receive a text message from the FA's Full-Time admin system. It will give you instructions on how to report your result but basically you text back the score with the home team score first. For example, if it's a 4-2 win for the home team you text back "4-2".
If you have extra time and/or penalties you add these on as follows: "2-2 3-3 AET 3-1 PENS".
tHE dUTY xi
For each week at home there will be a nominated Duty XI which will be indicated on the website and in the newsletter. The Duty XI is responsible for sweeping out the changing rooms and making sure all the showers are turned off and the lights switched out. They are also required to do the washing up after everyone has had their food and to provide a volunteer to work behind the bar for a period after the game, to help whoever is running the bar that day.
The Vampires has run a weekly newsletter on and off for almost a century and is one of very few clubs to continue to do so. The letter carries fixtures, results and league tables plus news sent in from around the world from former members. It's most popular feature, however, is match reports and for that we need YOU!
We appreciate it's another job to do but why not get a different players to write a report each week? It doesn't have to be long, just a couple of paragraphs will do, but it makes a big difference to keeping us together as a club and allowing the old boys to keep up to date with who is playing and how they're getting on. It might not seem like it, but there are dozens of old boys around who pop down now and then to see a game who genuinely like to know about your team. You can meet many of them at the annual Old Boys Christmas Lunch in December.
To submit a match report email the editor, Andy Copeland, at email@example.com and if you can include some photos - no matter how bad your phone's camera - even better!