Behind the Scenes Part 2 - Q & A with Club Secretary Gary Callon

Last updated : 05 July 2008 By Fargone

1. What's the hardest part of the job?

There are some things that are hard about the job. For me the worst thing is when the team lose. I tend to take things a bit personally when we lose, even though I have had no part on the field of play. Out of everything, I find that the hardest but am working on not taking it so personally. I also find criticism against the running of the Club hard, particularly from those who seem to have a knee jerk reaction when things are not going well, knowing little of whats really going on. Sometimes it can also be quite hard trying to think of how best to word a difficult letter that needs to be sent.

2. What's the biggest problem you've encountered

I've encountered several problems in the 5 years I've been involved. I've found the important things are to try and keep a cool head, to think about things and not jump in with a quick decision but most importantly err on caution and don't be afraid to pick up a phone or email and ask for guidance. I particularly recall the time when Nicky Smith was sent off on a Saturday in one of his early first team matches. Nicky was gutted because we were due to play Queens Park at Hampden the following week and it looked like he was going to miss out with an automatic 1 match suspension. He was still a youth team player at the time and I was asked by the youth team coach on the Saturday night if he could play for them in an important match on the Sunday. I went through the rule book but it still wasn't clear to me what to do and I was caught in two minds. My instinct, like most peoples I imagine would have been, was that there would be no problem with him playing for the youth team as surely if he was sent off for the 1st team, he'd have to miss the next 1st team match. The rule book could not clarify the situation enough for me either way. I was in a real dilemma and decided to tell the youth coach not to play him as I could not be 100% sure of the situation and would not take a risk. It turned out that my intial instinct was wrong and I made the correct decision in not allowing him to play because Nicky was still a recognised youth player and not a recognised 1st team player. Even though he had been sent off in a 1st team match, he had to serve his one match suspension in the competition that he would normally play in, i.e. the youth league. Nicky was delighted because it meant that he could play at Hampden the following Saturday. When I looked at the rule book again, the wording suddenly became clearer to me, based on me now knowing the rule.

On a lighter note, I also had a big problem one Sunday morning when I was painting the railings at the end of the stand of Gayfield one summer. I somehow tipped a whole pot of maroon gloss paint all over myself and my clothes were dripping everywhere. With the car parked beside Pleasureland it was going to be a problem getting out and home and I didn't want to ruin the seats or carpet with gloss paint. I eventually stripped where I was and managed to get into the main stand and after a lot of searching found an old set of training t shirt and shorts to change into.

3. What the most enjoyable part of the job?

For me its winning as I feel a great sense of pride about being involved when we win. It also feels really good if a player you have had to make some effort during the week to get their signing paperwork sorted does well and helps get a result. I recall that happening with the Duncan McLean loan deal some time ago. When I phoned the SFA and SFL to check that they were satisfied with the papers, it transpired that there was a problem and a signature was missing. I then had to stay quite a bit later in Dundee redoing the forms after work and do a bit of running around, telephoning and faxing late on a Friday afternoon just before the transfer window closed in January. We played Morton at Gayfield the next day and McLean scored after 5 minutes and we earned a 2-2 draw.

4. What's the best surprise you've had in the job?

That would have to be when I was asked to appear on Soccer AM when we did the shirt sponsorship raffle that Adviva and Falconer Family Butchers won. There was a postal strike on at the time and I wanted to make sure that the draw tickets would get there and decided that the safest way would be if I took them down to London on the train myself. They phoned me as the train passed Peterborough on the Friday afternoon and asked if I would actually appear on the show to oversee the draw. I had to borrow a suit from someone on the set as I had only taken casual wear. It's a crazy show and the actual TV set is tiny and not much bigger than a large living room. It was great to meet Helen Chamberlain and Tim Lovejoy and most of the people who do all the additional comedy stuff actually do all the research and groundwork during the week. It was also a real surprise when the show responded to my initial email asking if they would mention we were doing a raffle and said that they wanted to do a big piece on it - it just shows that if you don't ask, you don't get. I was delighted at how well that shirt sponsorship raffle did in raising about 10k for the Club. I was still taking telephone calls at midnight the night before the draw from the webmaster with entries that had come in via the internet.