Keeping his eye on the ball

Graham Dodd used to manage the under-23s side at Enfield Town
Graham Dodd used to manage the under-23s side at Enfield Town

Andrew Warshaw speaks to Enfield Town’s new head of football operations

His role rarely sees him in the spotlight, but he is the eyes and ears of the manager and a crucial figure behind the scenes.

Graham Dodd provides valuable information to help keep the playing staff moving in the right direction. After two seasons assisting Enfield Town FC’s now-defunct under-23 squad, Graham is relishing his new role as head of football operations, a position not every club has but one which, given his vast experience after some 50 years in non-league football, is proving hugely beneficial.

Many football people of Graham’s age (69) would be thinking of retirement, but working alongside manager Andy Leese is giving him a new lease of life, having spent most of his non-league career at Brimsdown Rovers and Broxbourne Borough.

“Andy and I have known each other for years and when the decision was made not to run an under-23 team this year, Andy rang me and asked if I would stay on in a new capacity,” Graham told the Dispatch. “I guess you’d call it right-hand man, outside the dressing room.

“I don’t give team talks, get involved in training or go in after the game. Rather, I see my role primarily as a support function to the management team. Andy, assistant manager Mario Noto and I have our own WhatsApp group and are always exchanging messages.”

Without an under-23 squad to dip into any longer, Graham’s role is even more important in terms of identifying talent. Whenever Enfield are playing away he is invariably somewhere else, either watching future opponents or identifying a specific player who has been recommended to the Towners – or perhaps watching one of the club’s own players out on loan.

“Obviously when we had an under-23 side my role was pushing people through and suggesting to Andy that such-and-such a player might get some exposure.”

Graham, whose own playing career was cut short at 28 because of a serious knee injury, continues: “There are many players at lower levels who are more than capable of playing higher up the pyramid. Part of my role now is building relationships with other local clubs.

“To be honest, I enjoy taking a back seat, but there probably isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t get an email through the club’s website either from an agent offering us a player or a player looking for a trial.”

And Graham’s take on the season so far? “At this moment in time, our league looks pretty even. Most teams have had unpredictable results, not just us. It’s the same right at the top of football.”

As we head into November, Graham will be keeping his eye on the ball as the management team grapples with an ever-challenging fixture list. While he enjoys watching the professional game, non-league football is his obsession. “It’s in my blood. I’ve never had the compunction to buy a season ticket anywhere.

“You can go to a non-league game, pay your entrance money and probably get a pie and pint as well. To me, that’s always been the attraction.”