The full-time whistle goes in Shrewsbury, Lichfield City make it three wins on the bounce, and the side looks in fine fettle. As we charge through the sports centre and discuss the game, I am thinking about who I’m going to interview.
It’s like deciding who will be punished this week, the plan was to talk to influential goalkeeper James Beeson, but he has not appeared. As I make my way to the changing room, a few players greet me, Max Black, who I interviewed Tuesday said hello as did Chandler Pegg.
As we enter the changing room, James spots me and knows what’s coming, he is still eager to be interviewed (I think) as we make our way to the supposed local pub.
Not having a car, or knowing how to drive isn’t ideal but James agrees to take me to Tamworth station as he has done before, he doesn’t know yet I’m planning to do the interview in the car. We sit in the local pub, which I was told multiple times was 500 yards to the left of the centre, it wasn’t.
Joe Haines, Kyle Patterson, Scott Goodby, Jack Langmore, Dan Lomas, and Beeson discuss the game, whilst I sit back and listen. Wayne Chapman and Ivor Green are on the table next to us, and you can see Ivor as animated as ever, as he discusses today’s game, with Chapman nodding his head in agreement, like two peas in a pod.
The lads talk about results elsewhere, top of the table Hanley picked up a 1-0 win, Walsall Wood picked up a 4-3 win and Whitchurch Alport came back from 3-1 down to draw 3-3 and won on penalties in the FA Vase.
The closeness and bond of the players is once again clear, Tuesday night’s training session and singalong’s will no doubt have helped in that regard. The revelation that young Lewi Burnside, has sung an initiation song in the changing room shocked me, the fact it was Alicia Keys shocked me even more.
The lad’s joke about Patterson’s former stint with LA Galaxy, and his stint playing with a certain David Beckham of all people (which was news to me).
As we depart from the Coracle Inn, the long car journey begins, James has agreed to the interview in the car much to my delight. Road closures seem to be the main issue certainly to the ground, the drive back was a lot quicker than the drive there.
As we discuss the game, a range of topics are brought up. Sometimes I forget that these players have separate lives, Jack Edwards is a recruitment consultant, Leighton Mcmenemy is the owner of TeamFitUK a 1-2-1 fitness service just to name two examples.
My short sightedness sometimes lets me forget that these people have jobs and lives, Lichfield for some is an amazing distraction or a release from a hard week’s work as James puts it.
A lad’s night out is planned to try and coincide with Burnside’s 18th birthday, with Beeson once again telling me these things can only help with squad harmony. Football as I mentioned can be a release from ‘normal life’, and friends can be forged through football, which is on display for all to see when being around the players.
The prospect of promotion is brought up and just how amazing it would be for the cathedral city in Staffordshire, Beeson tells me that he isn’t thinking about it yet, and also tells me he plans on staying at Lichfield for a long time due to him enjoying his football. It’s hard to argue with him, as the result against Haugmond meant that was Beeson’s 15th clean sheet of the season, quite an achievement.
As we approach halfway through our journey, the interview begins as I remove my Dictaphone from my bag, the interview is underway.
The importance of three wins in a row could not be understated, “Massive,” Beeson says when asked about how crucial these wins could be. “We went 22 games unbeaten at the start of the season, once you start winning again the good feeling comes back, we had a sticky patch towards Christmas, but we feel we have recovered.”
When I asked what the main aspect behind this season’s form was, Beeson had a simple reply. “Enjoying it,” he says with a smile on his face. “All the lads have said the same, you play the best football when you’re enjoying it, it’s a young and hungry squad so they’re all enjoying it.”
Beeson speaks like a future captain, he was keen to heap praise on Lewi Burnside: “He’s been fantastic, we are planning a night out in March around him, great lad, Jimmy (Jamie Elkes) is 21, Leighton Mcmenemy is 21, we’ve got a lot of young lads coming through and it’s nice to see them express themselves.”
Beeson was also keen to express the importance of night’s out for squad morale: “It’s massive you can’t beat a night out with the lads. We had a training session on Tuesday, then Pizza and a few songs, just sometimes we might take it a bit too far!”
Beeson during games is certainly known for his loud instructions on the pitch, so do the players find it an irritant? “I think today (3-0-win vs Haughmond) they did,” he laughs. “I had a little moan at Hainsey (Joe Haines) during the game, but I said to the lads if I stopped talking, I’d lose my concentration, if it’s a quiet game then I still feel involved, but I do feel like I annoy a few of the lads…sometimes!”
“It’s never really something I thought about,” Beeson told me when asked whether his future aspiration is to become captain. Beeson was again also keen to heap the praise on all the coaches and how much he enjoys working with them, which again goes back to the family feel of the football club, which is something that has been a consistent aspect that anyone could pick up.
These next few games will go a long way to deciding the season, and unfortunately for me, it will also be a long way for me to go on a train, but it’s more than worth the travel.
By Shaun Webbley