RGM Sport Interview – Andrew Gordon from Salford City F.C
The meteoric rise of Salford City has been widely documented since the Class of ’92 takeover in 2014. Here we speak with Andrew Gordon, a mainstay of the past seven years, who talks about walking his dog and the matchday buzz in the Dirty Old Town.
When did you first get involved at Salford? Obviously a large part of it’s history has been based on value of local volunteers.
I’ve known of the club for years because I’ve always lived within half a mile of the ground. I moved into a flat on Nevile Road, but was working in broadcasting at the time and my hours were a bit sporadic so I used to take my dog for a walk on the pitch. It was just an open field really at the time. And then one day an older bloke came up to me and I thought “I’m in trouble here”. So I got in first and said “do you need a hand with anything?” and he came back with “yeah I need someone to come and do the PA system on a matchday, do you know how to use one?”. So I went down the next Saturday, which was around January 2013 and then within the next 18 months the Class of ’92 had taken over.
I’ve seen both sides of it and credit to the new owners, everyone that was there and volunteering were offered positions. So apart from anyone that wasn’t too sure about the change of direction, the people that have stayed have been part of it and at the forefront really.
It is the story told a million times now, but what a whirlwind since the takeover in 2014.
Well I was actually brought up a Liverpool fan so I have more reason than any to not like what was happening! *laughs* The first time I met Paul Scholes I told him he had ruined my childhood. In seriousness though, the way I looked at it, I’d been part of this amazing band of people volunteering and grafting away but that football club probably wouldn’t have survived another ten, fifteen more years, do you know what I mean?
There was a committee, Karen the Chairman was digging in her own pockets for changing rooms just to stay in the league, just scratching through season by season. Of course there’s some nostalgia about the old days but everyone here has been taken on the journey and we’ve been able to affect the change ourselves and see what direction it goes in. Apart from the more superficial stuff you see, the kits, stadium, attendances, the heartbeat really is still exactly the same.
What is that emotion like of helping out at a local, lower league club and then a group of football legend take over? Well before I married my wife, she used to live on Bramall Lane in Sheffield and there’s just something about that buzz on a matchday. So even before I had started volunteering at Salford but lived on the road, there was a part me that just thought “how cool would it be if this was a proper league football club?”. When I thought “bloody hell this might happen” I found it really exciting, just wow.
Is music something you’ve always been involved with personally and how does that fit in with being at Salford? Yeah I was brought up in a family where musical instruments were everywhere. My dad could play anything by ear, you’d be in a shop and see an instrument you’d never seen before and within 10 minutes he could play it. So my thirst for music just came from there, I loved researching it, studying it, finding bands, just immersed in it.
I’ve always loved that to me, football and music go hand in hand. I think they’re both art forms. There is a rhythm and excitement to football that I see in music too. You only have to look back to the 90’s when it was Cigarettes and Alcohol, jumpers for goalposts, that it was really amplified.
With football in this state of flux, people will realise that the football itself is just one part of the club on a matchday now. Say all matches on a Saturday are televised for the foreseeable, why would you choose to watch Salford City? That’s what we need to look at. What can we offer? If we have got a culture where music and football go hand in hand, we’ve got a better product to sell.
What are you looking for in a matchday playlist, or is it just your own preferred tunes?
It’s exciting to be at a point through this change at the club to dictate what our culture is. You see it in the industrial type design of the stadium, and then the matchday playlist is heavily influenced by the local area and nineties type culture.
Salford is really lucky that it seems to be one of those places where music culture and football just collide. Football being put on the map in the area by the bigger clubs, United and City, but then if you look at the bands from this area, New Order, Tim Burgess and The Buzzcocks, it goes on.
What do you look to do differently from other clubs? We’ve seen and talked about the often ignored link between football and music.
If you look at the amazing stuff that in particular, Bands FC, are doing at the moment on Twitter shows how many people that love football are the same with music. There’s a growing number of clubs that post their playlist on social media before games too. I’ve had people respond to ours and go “yeah, I’d go to watch them just for the playlist” and my response is usually “go on then” *laughs*
Have you got feedback regularly from the fans then? Absolutely. If you look at the local area, the biggest reputation for good music is Rochdale, and if you start getting mentioned alongside them then you know you’re doing something right. What I’ve got in my favour is I worked at XFM and Key103 and it meant I’ve got some existing connections, where I can twist their arm a bit to help us. So Tim Burgess did a playlist for us, and Geoff Shreeves even did one for us!
We know the football rise has been meteoric, but how has the step up been commercially?
We’ve gone up a lot quicker than what was first quoted for sure. We made the football league in 5 years instead of 8. It all stems from the atmosphere though, that people are trusted. Everyone there loves that club. We loved it when it was non-league and now love it as full time. We used to go above and beyond while we were volunteers. Now we still go above and beyond but we’ve just got the license to dedicate more time to it. When you’ve got people who wake up thinking about it, then go to sleep thinking about it, then putting all that extra graft in doesn’t ever feel like a chore. Yeah, there are days you pull your hair out but weigh that up against the fact we’ve taken Salford City to Wembley.
With the added attention from the last couple of years, is there a goal and focus for the image of the club, and music as a part of that? Obviously Gary Neville for one is a big advocate of music on Twitter.
It’s that thing again where we’ve just been allowed to crack on and been given the creative freedom, just with the tools and support to do it better. You know, it’s all got to fit in to the clubs ethos. There won’t be a repeat of a few years back, before the takeover, where this bloke came up to me and said “I’ve got this CD, will you play it for me?” He was a big guy, into his punk music and I put the CD on and every third word was a swear word. “Thanks, Spike, for that CD. More from Spike next week”.
Gary Neville is really into his music though and I guess that helps again with that freedom. We’ve never had a conversation about the playlist but it’s probably a case of, I’ve been doing it a while, people seem to like it, so I must know what I’m doing.
I also design the matchday programme covers, and again I just like to go off on them. I’ve been told off once or twice for too much blue on a cover but that’s about it!
If you’ve got people that you have looked up to for so many years as footballers, you know, 100 games for England, and they come in and let you crack on, it’s a boost for your confidence and esteem no end.
So aside from Spike sending his punk requests in, do you get requests from the players or coaches? I’ve had a few complaints in the past. I think one guy asked me “what was this rubbish” and it was Happy Mondays. That was an interesting day.
The biggest fear I had was playing Dirty Old Town. It’s kind of become the club anthem now. With being a Liverpool fan I was thinking we needed something to come out to, a bit special. And obviously Dirty Old Town is about Salford! The Ewan Maccoll version is a bit dreary so I went for The Pogues version. I like the music to build up so I start with more mainstream dancey tracks, then move to the crescendo of indie bangers and then you drop to a folk shanty! This first happened when there was about 100 people at the game so I could hear a pin drop, and I thought “that seemed a bit clunky”. So I did it the next week then left it our the following one. And an old guy said to me “oh I thought you we’re gonna play Dirty Old Town”. I gave it a few more weeks but just thought it was getting a bit embarrassing and stopped, but I got loads of messages asking why I had stopped! So know it is the anthem, and its plastered all over the ground so I’ve done something right.
Before we let you go, pick a song for our readers that’s a playlist staple or associated with Salford My one that I love to play, that is so upbeat before kick off, is One to Another by The Charlatans. As I’ve said, Tim Burgess is a local lad and he’s been to a few games. We gave him a shirt actually with “1-2-Another” on the back. So it’s got to be that.