A day in the life of a steward…supervisor.

Here’s something I started last summer, updated. At the initial time of writing I was a humble steward, but have since been promoted to steward supervisor, so I’ve left in most of what I wrote to give a better overview, and added bits more relevant now.

To the meat of the post later, but first a little background. As you may or may not know, I’m the matchday steward supervisor at the Amex, Brighton and Hove Albion’s new £100 million stadium just opposite the university I’ve been attending for 3 years. Since I started to consider what I was going to do after I’d finished there, I considered working at the stadium in some capacity and, partly with this in mind, I did a lot of voluntary work in various stewarding and marshalling roles while I was at university. Then when the opportunity to apply popped up earlier in the year, I did so with a suitable background for a successful application.

Now, four matches in (make that nineteen), I’ve settled into what will likely become my permanent position on matchdays, and, I suppose, want to give my readers an insight on what it’s like to go to a stadium for work and not play. Well mostly work.

It’s not in at the deep end. As part of the club’s agreement to provide its own stewards, they must agree to train us up to be able to achieve an NVQ level 2 in Spectator Safety and a steward isn’t allowed to work until they’ve passed the first module of the training program, which is about all the club and ground regulations, among other things. Then it’s in at the slightly shallower end.

Role: Matchday steward supervisor.

Location: The external concourse…outside the stadium

Shifts: Matchdays, variable hours as required.

A typical day for a Saturday game:

8:15am: Arrive, get hi-viz vest or jacket depending on weather, sign in. I used to receive my duty card at this point, but as I’m the supervisor now I don’t get one.

Until 9am: The stewards arrive, and do all of the above, including getting their duty card.

At 9am…or there abouts: Get briefing from external manager on the days proceedings. Usually a case of ‘same shit, different day’, but occasionally there’s something unusual happening. The stewards report to their position after trying to acquire the lists of expected VIPs, which includes the match officials, scouts, sponsors and maintenance contractors, but not the specific players or a multitude of other people that will be on the lists they inevitably don’t have. I do an initial wander round the stadium to check everyone’s where they’re meant to be and there’s nothing untoward occurring.

This is specific to the position I used to man. For a more up to date account, scroll down.

9 to 10:30am: Send inevitable people who have driven down to buy a shirt or pick up tickets back to park up elsewhere. Early VIPs start to arrive.

10:30am to 1:30pm: The rest of the VIPs arrive, usually players and coaching staff early, followed by match officials and assorted other VIPs.

1:30pm: The only access to and from the car park is closed as it becomes full of fans on foot.

2pm..ish: Disappoint the young boy and his dad, waiting expectantly by the VIP carpark  for players, by telling them the players all arrived hours ago.

3pm: Kickoff. Remain surprised at how many people can’t grasp the use of compass points for the stadium’s stands, or need to ask where the north stand is despite standing right by it.

3-4:30pm: Do very little while the game is in full swing.

This is where I got to while I was writing it initially. I’ll start again from 9am in my new role.

After the briefing and initial wander: Warm up on the sunny side of the stadium, then continue to wander around the stadium, checking up on my stewards.

Some point before 12…ish: Collect several lunch bags for, ahem, my stewards. Bags usually contain A pack of crisps, bottle of water, and muffin. Sandwich packs are available, and the choice is between a vegetarian or meaty triple pack. Most stewards dislike these sandwiches immensely. I’m not fussy, and the muffins are quite nice. We are also provided with vouchers for a free hot drink. The challenge here is finding somewhere in the stadium that accepts them, and timing reclamation of said hot drink to avoid queuing excessively.

1pm: The day is in full swing, most VIPs, including Brighton players, have arrived, and fans are beginning to turn up.

Sometime between 11am and 3pm: The away team coach decides to show. It is guided around the fairly busy concourse to the entrance by two of my stewards. Sometimes my stewards are seen on the Football League show, they love the fame.

Around 1.30pm: The concourse is closed to vehicles. It’s now a pedestrian zone and the VIP car park I formerly guarded is inaccessible. There will usually be someone who turns up late and thinks they can endanger pedestrians because somebody told them they can park there.

2pm…ish: Fans are coming in their droves. There may be a rogue vehicle on the now very busy concourse that needs dealing with, or travelling supporters that need directing to the away end, but from here on in my day runs itself.

3pm: Kickoff. The late fans need guiding in, but otherwise it’s very quiet outside the stadium.

Any time between about 4.20pm and 5pm depending on the scoreline: Fans start coming out of the stadium. There’s nothing much for me or my stewards to do now, except dealing with rogue vehicles that want to leave the VIP car park with the only way out full of pedestrians in a hurry.

About 5.30pm: The crowds that have left the stadium have now left the footprint of the ground (i.e. the outside concourse I’m looking after). It’s deemed quiet enough to let vehicles leave the VIP car park safely.

About 6pm: The concourse is very quiet, I gradually let my stewards go home.

About 6.15pm: The external manager bids me farewell and I go on my merry way, pleased with another successful day.

And there you have it. A day in the life of a football steward, the irony being I see very little to none of the game!

I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have, otherwise…

Jack out.

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About Jack
A small-time traveller in a big-time world

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