Every Friday, InsiderSport takes a look at a time in which a gripping sporting narrative was portrayed through the unmistakable medium of cinema.
In the platform’s feature length documentary ‘The Gaffer’, BT Sport continues its commendable coverage of non-league football, providing a deeper insight into the personalities that give the lower tiers such character.
The documentary introduces five managers as they navigate towards conclusion of the season and begin preparations for one of the most turbulent times of the season – the summer transfer window.
At both ends of the managerial spectrum, John Still returns to the game to work alongside his longtime mentee Hakan Hayrettin at Maidstone United, the pair form a highly likeable duo, who share a passion for not only football, but also man management.
On the other hand, former Eastleigh player, Ben Strevens begins his journey into management at his former club, jokingly revealing that he left the player’s whatsapp group prior to taking the job.
“Being a football manager is such an extraordinary job, so I think it takes extraordinary strength of character to be one.”
Embodying the role that non-league football plays in the community, Bromley Manager Neil Smith shows a desire to interact with everyone at a club community day, before sharing his experience shopping in a supermarket after the FA Trophy final defeat, where he was greeted with commiserations in every aisle.
Not only does the documentary offer a unique insight into non-league football, but also into the mind and perspective of young managers beginning their journey in the game. For example, Harrogate Town’s Simon Weaver reveals the unique challenges that are presented as he comes up against him and his brother’s footballing hero in Chesterfield boss, John Sheridan.
The documentary concludes displaying the tumultuous matchday from a manager’s perspective as Hartlepool’s Craig Hignett ensures his players maintain motivation for clashes with at the end of the season, whilst veteran Still issues riles up his players as only he can.
Furthermore, the family life of the gaffers provides a poignant reminder of the true challenges of football managing, as Weaver juggles team tactics with father duties, Hayrettin reveals the impact his commitment to football may have had on his personal life and Smith discusses the inspiration he takes from his daughter’s sporting endeavours in diving.
The Gaffer’s producer and director, Ben Lowe, stated on the BT Sport Website: “Being a football manager is such an extraordinary job, so I think it takes extraordinary strength of character to be one – at any level of the game.
“I wanted to celebrate this in a documentary, with true access to their worlds both in and out of the dugout and driven by their personalities, to show ultimately it’s the man that makes the manager.
“What impressed me the most was their honesty and sense of humour, which shine through the film. Many managers in professional football are painfully media-trained and like to play cliché bingo, but I purposely wanted to feature gaffers who trusted I was making the documentary for the right reasons and this unfiltered insight is what I’m most proud of.
“I’ve forever been fascinated by football managers. The pressure is relentless and it can be a brutal experience, with a lot of supporters forgetting they are also human beings. What unites them is their ambition and bravery, knowing the likelihood of ‘failure’ is so high.”
The Gaffer is available via BTSport.com.