Lee Childs is a 29-year-old sports fan who loves football. A follower of Aston Villa and closer to home, Hereford United, Lee goes to watch games as often as possible but playing for a local football club on Saturdays makes going to matches a tad difficult.
“I live and grew up in The Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire,” Lee tells us, “and work locally at the Glatfelter paper mill. Due to my continental shifts pattern, it works out I get a lot of week days off, so I’m setting out trying to visit as many football clubs as possible on a week night, not just to watch a game but more than that; I’m asking clubs to have a look behind the scenes if possible, which you don’t generally get to do. And more so visiting lower league clubs, as following Villa, it will be clubs that we don’t meet very often!”
There is no real reason behind Lee’s quest; it’s purely for the love of football.
“I’m not raising money for charity or trying to complete the ‘92’ challenge or anything like that. I just love football and want get as much out of my ground visits as possible. I’m not even asking for a free ticket! But going behind the scenes, checking out the changing rooms, emerging from the tunnel – that’s what I want!
“I literally stick a pin in the map and check out what clubs are in that area. Orient and West Ham were my first clubs chosen but I didn’t hear anything back from West Ham. I would have liked to have gone their first then come to the O’s and watch the game (versus Notts County) in the evening but even to date, they are yet to reply.
“To be honest, I’ve had no joy off any club except yourselves. Not one has even replied to my request, which I find a little annoying, but I won’t give up!”
Lee arrived at the Matchroom stadium at 4.30pm and was met by Liaison Officer Howard Gould who gratefully accepted a cheque addressed to Haven House Children’s Hospice, one of the clubs partner charities as a ‘thank-you’ for the hospitality. The stadium tour then commenced with a short history of the club utilising the framed photographs adorning the walls in the Club reception. This was followed by a journey by lift to the fifth floor of the West Stand to take in the view of the pitch from the press balcony, then down to the third floor and Olympic Suite including the Boardroom and Directors Lounge before taking in the changing rooms, fully equipped with first team kit in preparation for the upcoming game.
One highlight was being able to emerge from both player’s tunnels as Lee was also privy to looking behind the scenes in the East stand and was surprised to see the disused sauna hidden away in the old changing room area.
Howard commented, “When I first received Lee’s email request there was a little scepticism as I’ve had a few old acquaintances coming out of the woodwork lately looking for free tickets! Amazing what happens when the team are doing well!! But I asked him his reasons and thought why not? He seemed genuine and as he said, it’s purely because he’s a football fan. My job is to make people happy whether it’s getting the player’s to schools, inviting a local care home to a match or helping people fulfil a dream. I’d like to think if I had a goal, someone would help me achieve it.”
We wish Lee good luck with his endeavour around the country and he’s promised to support the O’s should they be the team playing against the home club!