RUNNING football might seem like a dream job to many – and James Hope-Gill cannot argue.
The chief executive of Sheffield and Hallamshire County Football Association says he loves the role he has in promoting, governing and advocating football.
But he got into it almost by accident.
“Back when I was studying at Sheffield University I was more of a hockey fan,” says the 42-year-old of Dore. “But for my geography dissertation I did some research on Sheffield’s football fans.
“Basically I wanted to find out why some people supported Wednesday and some United. I interviewed 300 season ticket holders of each club to find out economic and cultural backgrounds, and there was absolutely no quantitative difference between them. Two interesting things emerged though – 90 per cent of fans on both sides had chosen their team because it was who their dad supported. And, while United fans generally came from the south of the city, Wednesday supporters came from pockets all over the city. When I looked into that, it was all the places where the club had played in the past.”
Enthused James took the research to the FA and asked for funding to do something similar across the country.
“They said no thanks but they did point me in the direction of the SHCFA where there was a job going,” says James, a Blades fan himself. “I went along and I’ve been here ever since.”
n Some famous footballers have passed through the ranks of the Sheffield and Hallamshire County Football Association’s leagues. They include:
Gary Cahill (Dinington Town, now Bolton and England), Kevin Davies (Sheffield United Boys, now Bolton), Gordon Banks (colliery football, then Stoke and England), David Seaman (Rotherham Boys, then Arsenal and England), John Beresford (Sheffield Rangers, then Newcastle United), and Nicky Weaver (Killamarsh, then Manchester City and now Sheffield Wednesday).
Oh, and another famous face? Sean Bean who starred for Handsworth Boys.