The job of a grassroots football manager demands versatility, but perhaps not many have had to mind the goal while their keeper was called away to a break-in.
This was the scenario Sleaford Town boss Jamie Shaw found himself in on Saturday moments before kick-off.
Shaw officially hung his boots up a good few seasons ago, but a threadbare squad has persuaded him to keep on registering as a player.
Last weekend Town’s star striker was ready to take his place on the bench as Sleaford’s only substitute for the visit of Lutterworth Town.
But when regular keeper Chris Bennett was called away shortly before kick-off to a works break-in, plans suddenly changed.
“Funnily enough it wasn’t my goalkeeping debut,” he said.
“Due to previous similar situations over the last 20 years it was actually the third time I had started a game in goal and I’ve also had to go in after a sending-off once before, too.
“It was an unlucky set of circumstances this time with our keeper being called away to a break-in on a site he is working on, and then being held up by the police insisting the site needed to be re-secured.”
Town were beaten 5-0 to extend their point-less start to their campaign and keep them rock-bottom of the United Counties League Premier Division,
Although the blame for another heavy defeat was not entirely down to Shaw, who also briefly added team coach driver to his CV last season, with several stops sparing a greater hiding.
“A few people have been kind enough to praise my performance, but if I’m honest some of my decision-making and particularly my kicking were not of the level required of a UCL goalkeeper,” he said.
If the episode acted as a little light relief, Town’s torrid season certainly needed it.
Saturday’s defeat at Eslaforde Park came just days after an even bigger hammering in midweek when Sleaford were routed 8-0 in the County Cup at Division One side Blackstones.
The setbacks came despite encouraging signs in their previous match at Wellingborough, and the reluctant player-manager is working hard to fix both the attitude and strength of his squad.
“I’ve been really disappointed in the last couple of matches and don’t feel we have worked hard enough or shown anywhere near the level of character or quality needed,” Shaw added.
“I’ve told the players this and am expecting a response from them over the next series of games, but I am also working as hard as possible on trying to bring new players in to the club to add some quality to the squad.”