Singing the blues

Glenn Tam­plin’s am­bi­tious plans

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS -

THE FIRST thing to say about Billericay Town is, what­ever your taste, the mu­rals that adorn the back of the new stand, the chang­ing rooms and tun­nel area, are ar­tis­ti­cally im­pres­sive.

The sec­ond thing is that the place has been com­pletely and un­de­ni­ably trans­formed in a short space of time.

New ter­rac­ing and seat­ing has leapt up, the pitch is im­mac­u­late, the food and drink stalls im­proved and an area be­hind one stand is be­ing hur­riedly pre­pared for a 3G fa­cil­ity and park­ing.

The Es­sex club has gen­er­ated more col­umn inches and so­cial me­dia posts than any other Non-League out­fit in a long time be­cause of one man, mil­lion­aire owner Glenn Tam­plin.

The lo­cal busi­ness­man has poured £2 mil­lion into the club since tak­ing over part­way through last sea­son, in­stalled him­self as man­ager, caused con­tro­versy with out­ra­geous post­ings on twit­ter, and up­set a lot of peo­ple do­ing it.

The singing, the team-talks, the flash cars, the big-name ex-Premier League sign­ings, the wages, the bold pre­dic­tions to reach the Foot­ball League.

But he has, so far, done ev­ery­thing he said he would. Even if there is just 18 months left on the lease and, he says, the coun­cil are ig­nor­ing their at­tempts to dis­cuss re­new­ing. So what is be­hind the car­i­ca­ture that has got every­one in Non-League foot­ball talk­ing? In­side his of­fice he’s wel­com­ing, in­tro­duces his wife Bliss and son Archie, ges­tures grandly, is raw, funny, di­rect, hon­est, openly says how his mis­takes saw some of his com­pa­nies go bust, and is clearly pas­sion­ate about what he’s do­ing.

“What frus­trates me is this gets so much more than my money,” he says, a few hours be­fore they main­tain their lead at the top of the Bostik Premier after beat­ing Brightlingsea Re­gent. “It gets ev­ery minute of my time. It gets all of my heart, all of my pas­sion. It gets ev­ery bit of me. Money is the last thing it gets. The last thing.

“And it’s the eas­i­est thing to give. It would be eas­ier for you to get £5 out of your pocket now and give it to some­one than an hour of your time. This is where peo­ple get me wrong. I give peo­ple and this club my time. That’s noth­ing to do with money.”

The of­fice we sit in has had a sim­i­lar re­design to the chang­ing rooms. Tam­plin gives a guided tour of the lions on the wall be­hind his desk, who rep­re­sent him and his fam­ily.

“You look around this room now and peo­ple will say, ‘Oh, it’s a cir­cus’. Well, no, this isn’t a cir­cus,” he says. “If you look at it, this be­hind you here is my fam­ily. That’s me, the king of the jun­gle, this is my li­on­ess Bliss, these are my kids – I have a tat­too on my arm here of lions and tigers. It ba­si­cally says I thought about quit­ting be­fore I re­alised who was watch­ing.

“When, ten years ago, I was in a bad place and I tried to take my life three times, I had a four-year-old boy, Archie, and a one-year-old girl, Gra­cie. There was a slo­gan that had a lion sit­ting there with a cub look­ing at him say­ing, ‘Daddy, help, help’. It was, ‘I thought about quit­ting un­til I re­alised who was watch­ing me’. I re­alised my cubs needed me.”

Tam­plin, 45, says there’s lots of things peo­ple have wrong with him. He ex­plains how he grew up on a coun­cil es­tate with no fa­ther, how he found his first bride-to-be hav­ing an af­fair with her boss two weeks be­fore their wed­ding and how that led to

throw­ing him­self into busi­ness. Ul­ti­mately, ten years later, he burnt out and couldn’t cope un­til he lifted him­self from the ‘devil’s pit’ with the help of faith and Chris­tian­ity.

“All I’m say­ing is, my life has not been a bed of roses,” he says. “All I’m do­ing when I come to this foot­ball club is say, ‘Here’s all of me. But with me comes my past, my be­liefs, comes what I be­lieve we all need to know, comes to­tal trans­parency. You’re go­ing to get all of me’.

“That’s why every­body knows my story.Why do I tell peo­ple my story? Be­cause we have pas­tors here to help peo­ple. I be­lieve it is my pur­pose to help peo­ple in the Billericay com­mu­nity. Help peo­ple get well, help peo­ple with is­sues.

“Win­ning the league and tak­ing this club up is some­thing I want to do – but that’s as well as help­ing the com­mu­nity. If you said I had to pick be­tween the two, I don’t know which one I would pick. Be­cause if we win all the leagues and go up to League Two, but I haven’t helped any­one in the com­mu­nity, then I would say I’ve failed.”

Tam­plin ac­cepts he has made mis­judge­ments on twit­ter and his sug­ges­tion for his “haters” to get in touch with one of a num­ber of men­tal health or drug ad­dic­tion char­i­ties – for which he apol­o­gised – is a con­tra­dic­tion to the good work he ap­pears to be do­ing.

He’s funded an op­er­a­tion for a young boy called Harry Parker to walk again. A team of six street pas­tors will be at games – they plan be­tween them to come to games at all lev­els of the club – to of­fer sup­port for any­one who may need it.

Phil Nor­ton, Lead Street Pas­tor, says: “We’re build­ing re­la­tion­ships at the mo­ment, let­ting peo­ple know who we are and what we’re about and, most im­por­tantly, who we’re not. What we aren’t is lo­cal Chris­tian peo­ple evan­ge­lis­ing or com­ing with a very heavy Chris­tian mes­sage. “We’re ac­tu­ally say­ing, ‘This is who we are, this is what we be­lieve and, within that, can we of­fer you some pas­toral needs. How are you get­ting on in life? What are you go­ing through? Are you go­ing through a be­reave­ment, through a men­tal health cri­sis, drink or drug ad­dic­tions?’ These are the peo­ple we can help and maybe steer into some coun­selling or what­ever is ap­pro­pri­ate. That’s what we’re try­ing to do.” Even Tam­plin’s big­gest crit­ics will ad­mit it’s com­mend­able. While some wel­come his in­volve­ment, many be­lieve his ego rules. Tam­plin says he’s turned down doc­u­men­taries on his fam­ily, has stopped all in­ter­views at his man­sion be­cause the story was go­ing too far away from Billericay Town, but says he had to make a splash early. “I guess it’s that story, ‘sex sells’,” he says. “I had to get this club up and run­ning quick. I had to get some at­ten- tion.You won’t cre­ate at­ten­tion with a Ford Fo­cus. You will with Fer­raris and Lam­borgh­i­nis. So they have to go up, the house has to go up, the ego side of me has to go up so peo­ple say, ‘Look at this char­ac­ter!’ That’s the thing that cre­ates at­ten­tion first.

“It’s a bit like you’re go­ing to read a story in the pa­per about Beck­ham hav­ing an af­fair first be­fore a lit­tle story about a kid hav­ing an op­er­a­tion. I need to cre­ate at­ten­tion. So I need to have the Fer­raris, the house, how much money is go­ing into the club.

“But I have a plan. That was the start of my plan. Now the real Glenn comes out. Now you see what we do with char­i­ties and with peo­ple’s time. I’ve got, on this phone, 75 peo­ple, who have con­tacted me di­rect on twit­ter that I’m spon­sor­ing and help­ing. They’ve got gam­bling, drink­ing, drug ad­dic­tions. I send them all per­sonal pro­grammes. I’ve had 75 peo­ple come to me and I’ve replied to ev­ery sin­gle one. I do so much be­hind the scenes, but peo­ple don’t see that.”

Tam­plin says the pro­file will only in­crease if they go up the leagues and ad­mits he’s al­ready knocked back of­fers from peo­ple want­ing to buy stakes in the club. He high­lights how at­ten­dances have rock­eted in a short space of time – they now av­er­age 1,200 at home – and says he’s still in first gear.

Tam­plin knows Fleet­wood Town owner Andy Pil­ley well and has leant on him for ad­vice and guid­ance. Pil­ley told him to build a team for each level, but his plan is

dif­fer­ent.

I had to get some at­ten­tion (for the club). You won’t cre­ate at­ten­tion with a ford fo­cus. You will with Fer­raris and lam­borgh­i­nis.

I’VE STUCK I2M OF MY OWN MONEY IN. I’M NOT ASK­ING FOR A PENNY BACK - SO AM I RU­IN­ING NON-LEAGUE FOOT­BALL? NO WAY

“Peo­ple think this is a cir­cus, but this is what I’m say­ing about a plan,” he says.“The £25,000a-week wages it is now is go­ing to be the same next year. And it’s go­ing to be the same the year after. Even for the Na­tional League it’s go­ing to be the same.

“By the time it gets to the Na­tional League it’s go­ing to be a smaller wage. But I had to cre­ate a rea­son to come to this foot­ball club early doors.

“Why wait un­til the Na­tional League to get fans, to get this at­ten­tion? The only way I could do it was with special play­ers with special tal­ents that cost a bit more money, but it’s a bit like I’ve bought some­thing to grow in to.

“In three years’ time it will still be the same. Peo­ple think it’s go­ing to go 20 grand, 40 grand, 60 grand, no sta­bil­ity, no sus­tain­abil­ity, this club is go­ing to go skint. No, I’m not that stupid.

“I will do my boots year one.Year two we will break even.Year three we’re go­ing to make money.We’ve got John Salako com­ing on board as direc­tor of foot­ball now.We’ve got seven or eight di­rec­tors from lo­cal busi­nesses, big hit­ters, com­ing on board. All bring­ing dif­fer­ent ways and so­lu­tions to make money.

“We’re do­ing a three-day fes­ti­val in May that will bring a quar­ter-of-a-mil­lion into the club. There’s so much go­ing on be­hind the club.

“I’m bring­ing busi­ness peo­ple in to make this a busi­ness. So what you haven’t seen yet is the busi­ness side of Billericay Town. If you think the club has been big, wait un­til you see what I’m bring­ing as a busi­ness.

“This time next year, if I get run over by a bus, this club will be able to run it­self. That’s the big­gest thing. Be­cause Billericay Town Foot­ball Club is big­ger than the Tam­plins. That’s what I’m aware of and what peo­ple need to be aware of.” But what if that hap­pens now? “If I get knocked down by a bus this year, the club is in trou­ble,” he says.“But after this year it’s go­ing to be fine. I’ve got Paul Web­ster, who was a direc­tor at Chelms­ford, run­ning the team. We’re run­ning at a loss of about £15,000-a-week, roughly. We’ve got a plan that in four months that will be down to £8,000-a-week.

“Once we put down the 3G pitch out the back we’ll be mak­ing more money than we’re los­ing be­cause so many peo­ple will want to hire it out seven days a week, 16 hours a day.

“I’m do­ing so much be­hind the scenes as a busi­ness­man, as a busi­ness to make this a sus- tain­able club. We’ve got two halls now and a res­tau­rant. It looks like we’ve done a deal where we’ve rented both halls out five days of the week, morn­ing and night.

“Peo­ple are judg­ing me as this man who’s throw­ing loads of money at a toy. This ain’t a toy. This is go­ing to be a Non-League club, not for long a Non-League club, but a Non-League club that makes money.”

A charge against him is he’s ru­in­ing Non-League foot­ball. Tam­plin, who played for Bark­ing and Bark­ing­side, feels he’s bright­ened the place up with an in­jec­tion of some much­needed char­ac­ter.

“I like the hon­esty of Non-League foot­ball,” he says.“I like the fact fam­i­lies can’t af­ford forty or fifty quid, or to eat a stale pie. We’re West Ham fans. My wife, sit­ting here dur­ing this in­ter­view, and I and our kids, we go to West Ham. We’ve got blokes next to us eff­ing and blind­ing, our kids don’t feel com­fort­able!

“So I like the fact you can come in and there’s no ag­gra­va­tion. OK, there’s a bit of swear­ing but you don’t see my fans eff­ing and blind­ing. I like the hon­esty, the af­ford­abil­ity.

“If I’d sud­denly made tick­ets £20, a ten­ner for kids, a fiver for a pint and a fiver for a pie, then I’d be ru­in­ing Non-League foot­ball.

“But let’s get this right. The ticket prices are the same, the drink prices are the same, the food prices are the same, but I’ve stuck £2m of my own money in.

“I’m not ask­ing for a penny back – so am I ru­in­ing Non-League foot­ball? No way.”

Glenn Tam­plin

Glenn Tam­plin with Matt Badcock Tro­phy time... The dress­ing room

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