Geoff Howard – 1st Team Manager : Oldham Hulmeians – 2nd Division - Lancashire Amateur League
Geoff Howard, 38 year old teacher who is currently in his tenth year working at a Special Needs school in Oldham. Holding an FA Coaching badge, Geoff has in the past coached a diversity of sports, cricket, rugby league, fencing and lacrosse. A fanatical Oldham Athletic supporter, he currently lives with a “fantastic partner” who, in his own words describes as, “being totally understanding about his football passion and supports me with the time I spend with Oldham Hulmelans“. Into his third season as first team manager after winning promotion as manager of the reserve team in his first season. Although his Influences are documented below, Geoff adds, “it is down to the support, effort and hard work of his mother and father why I am able to be in such a lucky position today - Working with some fantastic adults week in and week out on the football pitch.”
These are Geoff’s words, these are Geoff’s heroes and inspirations …
I am now into my third season as first team manager of the respected Oldham Hulmeians. A club founded in 1926, we still have four adult teams playing in the highly respected Lancashire Amateur League. Still managing the ‘odd game or two’ i've played for our ’B’ team this season, this took me to my twenty-sixth season as a player, since my Dad (also Geoff Howard) first took me to my first football club Royton All Stars as a naive, raw, eleven year old full back.
As staunch Oldham Athletic supporters, my mother and father were both regulars for years at Boundary Park and gave me my first slice of the ‘real deal’ at the tender age of seven years old – An experience that would shape my passion for a sport that still plays a huge part in my life.
All I Wanted To Do Was Play For Oldham Athletic.
As I grew into my teens, playing for illustrious local junior clubs such as Boundary Park Juniors, where I was managed by Gordon Robins, the father of the current Coventry City manager and former Manchester United professional, Mark Robins
I played for my Town and County, the highlight playing for Oldham Boys against a certain Ryan Wilson – now known throughout the world as ‘Giggs!’ I trained with Bury FC as a schoolboy for twelve months and earned twelve months as a schoolboy with Stockport County, training under the legendary Danny Bergara – seeing him keeping up a 10p coin from foot to foot, before flicking it into his shirt pocket, a particular memory.
Nothing ever came of my early jaunt into professional football, a fractured bone in my back whilst sledging at the age of sixteen, putting paid to that. After this I then went into non league football at a senior level with Chadderton FC (NWCL), representing them in the FA Youth Cup against a very good Blackburn Rovers side containing David May (Manchester United) and Jason Wilcox (Leeds United and England) and although we lost 4-1, had the distinction of scoring in both ends!
All the while, the wise words of “practice makes perfect – get out there with your ball”, bellowing from my dad's throat, continually encouraging me to use my ‘shed wall’ as a team mate to pass to and receive and an opponent to “block tackle“! Yes I learned to “block tackle” against a wall!! Wherever I played, my old man (though not so old) would come to watch, quietly offering me advice and pointers as I went through the game. Any “bollockings” would be saved for the privacy of the car on the journey home. It was this constructive tone that I try to use today, knowing I always respected it. After three seasons with my local club, I moved onto playing for Hollinwood FC in the South East Lancashire and Manchester Leagues, where I played for a number of seasons under probably my greatest non related influence Peter Bird.
He was a man whom had been in the amateur game for what seemed like “donkeys years“, a raw, passionate manager – no heirs or graces, he had a passion and desire to win football matches and to do it with a group of enthusiastic young men. He had a way of earning respect through honesty and trust and he paid back that same respect tenfold for those who had the opportunity to play for him. He trusted you and we certainly trusted him.
I suppose as I really get stuck into this ‘managing lark’ and as an FA Coach, many of the words, actions and traits that both my Dad and Peter have always shown, will be exchanged by me into today’s’ currency.
The game has changed in the last twenty years and the players certainly have. It seems to be a thankless task, trying to raise a consistent squad available every week, whilst fighting back the lures of Sky TV, the pub, the missus and our newfound love for six-a-side football four times a week.
I am determined to continue to offer my advice, knowledge and experience of many happy years playing to local young guys in an adult environment on the pitch. Hopefully setting the right examples in my expectations of them as players and as men. Some may never have the opportunities that many have had in progressing, but to have the opportunity in being part of a club that can facilitate this continues to fill me with a passionate pride.
Looking at the way we are going this season so far, we seem to have struck the perfect balance.