As this week’s events prove, little in football lasts for ever. But one member of staff is usually loved by players, fans and management alike.
They usually survive the brutal coaching culls that follow a managerial sacking, too. This week, two kit men have made it into the headlines, but for the most part, they quietly get on with the job in hand. Here are four of the best:
Albert Morgan, Manchester United
When Alex Ferguson led his senior coaching staff on to the Old Trafford Pitch on Sunday, there was a notably giddy applause for Albert “The Kit Man” Morgan, with 70,000 fans imploring him to give them a wave. Morgan has been at United since 1996 when he replaced Norman Davies (dubbed “Vaseline” for his inability to keep hold of Eric Cantona during his kung-fu kick”). Morgan’s standing is such that he featured in a Nike advert alongside Cristiano Ronaldo.
Les “Chappy” Chapman, Manchester City
Chapman, City’s kit man since 1997, is one of the few continuous presences in the club’s dressing room and has become a cult figure among fans and players alike. A former player and coach, Chappy’s antics are heavily chronicled across videos on the City website. A former assistant of his, Stephen Aziz, caused a storm when he described outgoing City boss Roberto Mancini as “arrogant, vain, self-centred no manners ignorant” on Twitter.
Dave Matthews, West Bromwich Albion
Matthews sadly passed away in April but challenged even Ryan Giggs’s longevity in the game. The 67-year-old had been on staff at the Baggies for a remarkable 52 years, having joined the Hawthorns staff as a 15-year-old. Matthews sorted the kits for Baggies players from Jeff Astle to Cyril Regis to Shane Long over the course of 2,000 games.
Abel Rodriguez, Real Madrid (one game only)
The story of Rodriguez is captivating. A Mexican cleaner in LA, Rodriguez spent his summers chasing balls and running errands for Real Madrid players as they spent their pre-season in the city.
In February, he showed up at Madrid’s training complex, waiting five hours until he saw José Mourinho, who not only invited him to Real versus Barca, but, seeing him as a good luck charm, asked him to work as a kit man for the away trip to Manchester United.