Similar to almost every other non-league football club, the Clarets’ volunteer base is essential to keep the Club operating and moving forward.
This feature initially appeared in the Chelmsford City matchday programme, The Claret.
Like the cogs of a clock, collectively the turning individuals – no matter how big or small their input is – work in unison to ensure to clock continues to tick for the benefit and enjoyment of the wider majority.
Whether it be preparation for a big game through the week, matchday operations itself or leading a broadcast for those unable to attend or further afield to stay in the loop – all are key.
A recent achievement from some of our regular volunteers, Ben and Terry Parks, saw Radio Clarets pass 150,000 individual listens on their current streaming outlet, Mixlr.
The fixture which saw the father and son duo pass a figure of people listening to Chelmsford City fixtures equivalent to Manchester United’s Old Trafford packed out twice over was the 2-1 away defeat to Hungerford Town in January.
Speaking with a modest outlook before looking back on how he got involved with Radio Clarets, Ben explained: “I didn’t really think much of it, it was only when I spoke to Brian [Potter] and he said that we should celebrate it.
“I’ve been doing it quite a few years now, I started after I finished university. Chris Evans, our old Press Officer, put an advert out wanting media people and I’d done a bit of hospital and uni radio.
“They’d just started Radio Clarets up and Ken Carr was the guy who was doing it at the time, I’d listened to it while I was at uni and I was his co-commentator for a while before taking it over three years after starting.
“It would have been something like 2012 when I started, I think. One of the first seasons I did involved the Colchester United game, I did the commentary for that on my own because Ken was doing the DVD commentary – my commentary is on the DVD as an extra!”
Having around 10 years’ experience doing the broadcast, the lead commentator for Radio Clarets has seen many a player come and go in City claret, as well as big names coming down the pyramid, which he feels is part of the non-league charm.
“I like that with non-league, it always seems to be different people turning up every week for the opposition, so it’s not the same old players every week,” Ben said. “Even in our side, we often have new players.
“I often look at clubs’ histories, there are all sorts! People coming through the ranks and making their way in the game too, the likes of Ricky Holmes, Joe Ward.
“I don’t think I commentated on it, but I think there was a game here where Gary Hooper played for Grays, and he’s still playing in the Australian league.
“There are also the players that are coming down in their careers, we’ve played against the Matt Reeds of this world, and George Elokobi this season.
“We’ve got the likes of Simeon and Charlie in our side too, and they’re showing why they were top players and still are.”
While Radio Clarets has had a number of lead and co-commentators over the years, a key dynamic of the broadcast now is that it is a father and son duo between Ben and Terry.
With the two travelling right across the south of England to cover the First Team, Reserves and Academy home and away for the benefit of supporters that cannot attend, Ben explained that he was slow to warm to the idea of his dad getting involved.
“I didn’t want to do it with him for ages, I said, ‘Oh, never!’,” he explained.
“I did it with Ken and then Richard Bowyer took over as co-commentator for a few seasons but then he got unwell and couldn’t come to games, especially with a few press boxes in the league.
“I remember going to Torquay and it’s like an absolute mountain to climb in the press box there in the middle of a huge stand; it was quite difficult for a man in his 70s to get up there.
“With Dad, no one else wanted to do it really. People want to go behind the stand and have a drink, or many, before the game and the same afterwards, which you can’t really do when commentating.
“Despite not wanting to do it with him, we’ve had some interesting games and experiences. I think one of the first ones my dad did was a game at Hemel, which was in February or March, and they had some kids which were throwing fireworks onto the pitch.
“Two fireworks went off on the pitch and exploded during the game. Lloyd Doyley, the old Watford player, was playing for Hemel and it exploded right by him and he went down, so that was an interesting game, to say the least!”
When asked his thoughts on broadcasting with Ben, Terry claimed: “It’s great, it’s lovely to do it with Ben but obviously, just like in real life, we don’t always agree, do we?
“But that’s just normal. Then again, fans don’t always agree when they’re standing on the terrace – that’s the nicety of football, it’s opinion.”
With 150,000 listens under Radio Clarets’ belt and the current commentary team showing no sign of slowing down while supporters from far and wide still want to listen to the broadcast and the tick of the metaphorical Chelmsford City clock.
“Hopefully, as we’ve said before, Radio Clarets is there to give an honest, fan’s view of a game as we see it, not sugar-coated,” Terry concluded.
“If we’re not good, we’re not good and if we’re great, then we’re great.
“We also get the opportunity to talk to people all the way around the world, and those Clarets fans in far-flung parts of it.
“Just keep listening because we’re doing it for you and we like doing it; we’ll keep doing it while people still want to listen.”