“You can’t beat being involved in your hometown club”
What Steven asked Kevin Hake, chairman and manager of Chatham Football Club
A decade ago, Chatham Football Club would struggle to get attendance in three figures and to win a match. Now, they have won promotion for two consecutive seasons and regularly have attendances in four figures. Steven went to the Bauvill Stadium, home of The Chats, to discuss with chairman and manager Kevin Hake what happened, what’s happening now, and what happens next.
Where were you born?
I was born in All Saints Hospital in Chatham.
What jobs did your parents do growing up?
My father was a fireman, and my mother was mainly a stay-at-home mum, and then in later years worked in local schools as a teaching assistant.
How did you find school?
I enjoyed it, I really enjoyed it. I was heavily into my football at the time. I went to Chatham Grammar School for Boys, which was very much a rugby, cricket, and hockey school, so football all those years ago was very much frowned upon. But we managed to get a football team together and we were pretty good actually, but unfortunately, they wanted us to play other sports, which I enjoyed, but not as much as football.
What was your first full-time job?
Was a YTS (Youth Training Scheme) footballer at Gillingham Football Club. I did that for two years. Unfortunately, I was one of millions of kids and just didn't quite make it.
What was your position?
When I started, they signed me as a centre back, but back then you needed to be 6’ 6”, and the same sort of width as well. They instantly converted me, when I signed at 16, into a centre midfielder, so I stayed there for a couple of years, but unfortunately, I didn't quite make it. I went on to an electrical apprenticeship at a company in Sheerness and stayed there for a couple of years until I got my qualifications to become an electrician.
What is your official occupation?
That's very difficult. I’m almost full-time at the club, but I do consultancy in the construction industry. Chairman is 85% of my time and construction consultancy 15%.
With Chatham FC, do you own the club?
You are the chairman and the manager?
If you had to prioritise that order, is the chairman the main role?
Yes. The chairman oversees the whole of the club. I have a holistic approach from youth to men’s and women’s. That takes up the majority of my time, but I also manage the men’s team. Fortunately, I've got a fantastic team behind me who do a hell of a lot of great work which makes things easier for me. They are good people.
What does the average day entail?
I'm at the club seven days a week. It can be dealing with all sorts of matters, from whether it's running our Fit & Fed campaign, or Soccer Tots on a Monday, we do the full range. I think our oldest person who does Walking Football is 77 and our youngest person is two-years-old. You can imagine the amount of interactions and the various different conversations we have. We also have 95 scholars who reside here. I'm very proud to say we've got 16 young women, between 16 and 19, who have taken up the programme as part of the 95. They are studying BTEC in Sport. It's in its third year now, and some of the kids have gone to university and into employment as a result of the qualifications, plus they get to enhance their football skills, whilst getting an education.
As chairman, if things hypothetically were to turn around, would you fire the manager?