'The best kitman in the business'

A lot of chairmen bring their own coaching staff to a new club but Paul Billing decided above all else he needed the best kitman in the business.

Mike Mooney has served Coleshill Town for over a decade, joining in 2010 when Billing rescued the club from financial ruin.

The 69-year-old first met the Town chairman back in 1996, when the pair were age-group coaches at Dosthill Colts.
The Birmingham City season ticket holder started by sorting the kit once a fortnight, but it soon became clear where his true calling was.

“When the Blues were away I would do the kit for Paul and when Blues were at home I’d go see them,” he said.

“I was only their kitman every other week for one season and Paul said to me, ‘Mike you can’t go on like this. You’re not enjoying watching Blues so come and be kitman full-time.’

“So I did. I gave up my season ticket and became full-time kitman at Coleshill.”

Volunteers were thin on the ground 10 years ago, so Mooney was also drafted in on the gate for the first few months, until manager Paul Casey insisted to Billing he concentrate on the matchday kit preparations.

Volunteers like Mooney are the heartbeat of non-league clubs up and down the country and Southern League partners Pitching In have recently launched a Volunteer Hub to showcase opportunities across the country.

Mooney has been rewarded for his unwavering dedication to the Warwickshire club with the Pitching In Volunteer of the Month.

But as Mooney and thousands of other volunteers at non-league clubs stress, they don’t do it for the fame and glamour.

Mooney said: “I just love football and I’m in love with Coleshill Town. But my first love is football absolutely. My life is football.

“But the one thing I don’t like is when I’ve done the kit and the match kicks off, I’m the ball boy and I’m the oldest ball boy in the world.

“I put six balls out and we always lose one match ball, without fail. The league gives you 32 balls to start off with and I’ve only got 10 left!

Find volunteering opportunities at your local club by visiting https://pitchinginvolunteers.co.uk/

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