Working as a steward can be a thankless task – being called a ‘lanky streak of piss’ isn’t pleasant – but the camaraderie and the cash keep my Saturdays interesting By James Marsland for When Saturday Comes, of the Guardian Sport Network
There are several thankless tasks in football. The referee’s assistant running the line, who is destined to stand near the crowd and be barracked for every wrong decision and every right one that goes against the supporters’ team, is one. Each of the people whose job it is to tidy the terraces of spilled pies and trampled hot dogs hours after the fans have gone home may feel that their job is wholly unrewarded. And somewhere in there, gazing out with a fixed expression from under a black beanie hat and clad in a hi-vis jacket, is the steward. I know this because I am among their silent number.
People get into stewarding because they need the money, because they love the game, or because of a combination of the two. For a regular wage earner, the money you get can be put towards your holiday fund or to provide a welcome boost to your wages at the end of the week. And for people like me, whose love of football outstrips their ability to pay to watch games, it’s an opportunity to be in and around a club and to feel a strange kind of kinship with it, and with the other stewards.
Most Saturdays start with ironing my white shirt and assembling the modest amount of additional kit that counts as the stewards’ uniform: tie, black trousers, safety boots, ID badge, luminous jacket and any hats or gloves in muted shades that I need to keep myself warm in a job that, by definition, involves standing around for very long periods doing very little. You need to get to the stadium by 1pm for a 3pm kick-off, although in practice people tend to get there earlier to have a cup of tea and an aged biscuit in the stewards’ room, and, more importantly, to talk about the week just gone, to swap informal advice about the visiting team and to dwell on lurid stories of crowd trouble at other grounds. Read more below