The Only Way is Billericay.

Spoiler alert. This is the best story in football. Ever.

Billericay Town FC have been making a fair bit of noise recently. Essex based millionaire Glenn Tamplin bought the Ryman League outfit in December 2016.

Since then quite a bit has happened. Here’s a quick recap:

Tamplin has pumped over £10,000 a week into the club.

Signed Paul Konchesky.

Began convincing the Only Way is Essex’s Mark Wright to get investing.

Suggested being co-manager with long term gaffer Craig Edwards.

Craig Edwards left following this suggestion.

Became interim manager.

Signed Jamie O’Hara.

Loved being manager.

Decided he’d be the manager for the rest of the season, and potentially beyond if it goes well.

So to summarise. A steel works owner has bought a semi-pro club, appointed himself the manager, and signed a former Premier League player who just appeared on Celebrity Big Brother.

This story is even more ridiculous than Salford City. The BBC better get their documentary team down to Essex ASAP.

In the meantime, Thoughtful Football headed down to see how things were progressing under Tamplin’s leadership.

Unsurprisingly it’s an absolute circus. In a good way and a bad way.

Tamplin’s original intention was to be the interim manager for a few games. But apparently the players have enjoyed Tamplin being in charge so much that he decided to stay on until at least the end of the season.

So let’s just imagine how that conversation went down:

Tamplin

Boys

Team

Yes gaffer

Tamplin

You know how I own the club, pay your wages and am now the manager?

Team

Yes gaffer

Tamplin

Well don’t you think I’ve done a great job, and should stay on? Remember I pay your wages.

Team

Awkward Silence

Tamplin

It’s a good idea right? RIGHT!?

Team

Yes gaffer

Tamplin

It is isn’t it. Quality. Look at me. I’m the manager now. 

Now, to be fair Tamplin probably does know a thing or two about management. After all he runs a successful business, is clearly charismatic, and has generated a real interest in the club.

But, and it’s a big BUT…he has no real football experience. That coupled with the fact that people have a tendency to lose their mind when it comes to football. Cue alarm bells.

Any qualities or common sense a person may possess in their day to day life tends to go completely out the window the minute a whistle is blown.

The madness that is unique to football, was 110% on show last Saturday when Billericay hosted Enfield Town.

As the visitors warmed up with stucture, purpose and intensity, the Billericay Town team passed the ball in straight lines like an under 8’s amateur training session. See video below.

As Konchesky, O’Hara et al took part in this questionable warm up, Tamplin took it upon himself to warm up the keeper.

Yep, that’s right. The owner, who had appointed himself as manager was now queuing up with a small child, taking it in turns to shoot at a semi-pro keeper. If you don’t believe me see the video below.

Unsurprisingly Billericay started slowly, and Enfield Town came flying out the traps, scoring within the first two minutes.

When Billericay equalised against the run of play Tamplin sprayed one of the water bottles as if it were a bottle of Champagne. The man is clearly emotionally invested, but this wasn’t the F1 championship and the race certainly wasn’t won. It was 1-1.

From our view we could hear Tamplin repeatedly shouting at Paul Konchesky.

Tamplin

PAUL. PAUL. PAUL. GET THEM PLAYING FOOTBALL.

Konchesky

(Puts his thumbs up, smiles and carries on)

Billericay clearly have some talented players, so much so that Konchesky wasn’t even the outstanding player in the first half. Hot shot striker Billy Bricknell, and former Hendon left back Ollie Sprague were by far Billericay’s most effective players in a disjointed first half performance.

So naturally, Tamlin took them both off at half time.

Enter the field Jamie O’Hara.

The former Premier League player looked completely out of shape and off the pace. Then from nowhere, he scored the most spectacular bicycle kick. A goal that he has described as the best of his career.

The goal was all the more impressive given his underwhelming contribution up until that point. O’Hara is obviously a talented footballer, but his injuries have clearly taken their toll.

Let’s hope he can recover his fitness, as it would be an amazing comeback tale.

The joy of the wonder-goal was short-lived, as within a matter of minutes the opposition restored their lead.

3-2.

In fact O’Hara’s moment of magic almost masked the fact that they were completely out-thought by a team with a far more modest wage bill.

Enfield Town were disciplined, compact and clearly well drilled. They gave Billericay the respect their talented individuals warranted, and picked them off with a real sense of purpose.

Their pragmatic plan was rewarded with a well worked 4th goal, that epitomised the perfect away-team-underdog performance. Compact off the ball, expansive and explosive on the counter attack. A well deserved victory.

Billericay Town’s performance on the field, nothing short of a circus.

The hype that Tamplin has created around the club has a lot in common with the Salford City story. The main difference being that the ex Man United Legends are yet to take over as owner/managers of the side…although there were talks of Phil Neville stepping in temporarily at one point. Then again Phil has his coaching badges.

The BBC should get their cameras down and start filming immediately.

This documentary would be Salford City meets The Only Way is Essex, meets David Brent Regional Interim Football Manager.

If Tamplin carries on as he is, then the only way his side will succeed will be through acquiring superior players, and relying on moments of individual quality.

That would be a great shame, because off the field Tamplin has clearly done something quite exciting.

They’ve done some great work in the community, visiting BasildonHospital. A really decent thing to do.

Attendances have gone from 200 – 1,200. The club’s staff and volunteers are making Billericay Town a really welcoming place to go and watch affordable football.

20170408_135716 (1).jpg
The best Loo in Non-League Football.

The temptation of being the owner and manager must be massive. Tamplin can clearly afford to live out his dream. But if he wants it to succeed he must relinquish control to someone who knows a thing or two about putting a football team together.

And clearly the charismatic owner wants the club to be successful.

“In the past I suffered burnout because of work and I lost my partner and four children. I got custody of two kids back but I had a big house and money but no happiness.

“You need life and family and I would have been happier in a one bed flat. A big house and a big stand but no family or fans is a waste of time. Billericay’s fans will be my family.”

Let’s hope this larger than life character can make his dream come true. And if he can’t, someone should definitely capture the madness unfolding on camera.

It would be the definition of car crash TV.

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