The Gooner spoke to Mark Brindle, Arsenal’s Supporter Liaison Officer (SLO), for their second issue of the season.
The interview covers a lot of different topics including how he works with the Supporters Clubs around the world and other fan organisations, what’s being done regarding ticket prices and improving the atmosphere, and what’s been his highlight of the year he’s been in the role.
He also spoke about how he came to get the job for which there wasn’t room in the issue so it is hosted on the online version instead.
I used to be Chairman of the Essex Supporters Club and as such received related messages from the club. One popped into my Inbox saying that Jill Smith was retiring. I used to talk to Jill and tell her, tongue-in-cheek, how I’d love her job and she’d always reply that it was tough and a lot of hassle. However she also loved the job and I think the majority of people who knew her would say they could never have imagined her retiring.
I had been self-employed as a Financial Advisor for over 20 years and knew I needed a change as I’d had enough, so I had a chat with my wife and the following day I rang Sue (Campbell).
She immediately expressed surprise that it had taken me a day to get in touch, but she also made it clear that I would not be at an advantage, it was not her decision and I’d have to go through the application process like everyone else.
So I logged on to arsenaljobs.com – well worth keeping an eye on if you’d like to work at the club – and submitted my application. I didn’t hear anything for over a month so figured I hadn’t got past the initial filter, but then I got a call inviting me to take a telephone interview which involved me answering questions about Arsenal. Let’s just say they were at a level where I would have been distraught if I hadn’t known the answers!
After that I had two face-to-face interviews. I was outside of my comfort zone as I hadn’t had an interview in 25 years and throughout the process I kept thinking I wouldn’t get the job because I was convinced they wouldn’t want an Arsenal fan or they would want someone younger or with a degree in Marketing. Perhaps because I had this attitude it relaxed me.
By the time I got invited back for a third interview I knew it was down to the final three. For this one I had to put together a presentation for developing the Arsenal supporters clubs around the world. They really put me through it, but I also knew it had gone well.
At the end of the interview, which was in Highbury House, Sue was seeing me out and we were waiting for a lift and I was telling her how much I’d enjoyed the process regardless of the outcome when Mr Friar and Frank McLintock appeared. My son is named after Frank – although my wife thinks it’s after Frank Sinatra – so I’m a bit awestruck at this point to say the least.
Sue has introduced me to them and straight away Frank is asking me if I play golf and is telling me about a lesson he’d had to improve his swing which he started to demonstrate. It was surreal.
Then, just as the lift turns up, Liam Brady appears as well. So I’m in the lift with Sir Ken Friar, Frank McLintock and Liam Brady – two of my biggest heroes along with Dennis Bergkamp, plus a man who has been at Arsenal all his working life. I walk out of Highbury House thinking if I haven’t got the job, I’ve still had a pretty good day!
I headed home to Chelmsford and was on a packed commuter train when my phone rings. It was an unknown number so I binned it thinking it was probably PPI or something. Then the phone rings again and this time it’s “Sue Campbell – Mobile”. Me being me I immediately think I must have left something behind. This was on a Thursday and Sue had said before I’d left that she’d let me know the outcome the following Monday, so I wasn’t expecting to hear from her.
Anyway, she asks if I’m in a quiet place, so I told her where I was and that I couldn’t move. She asks if I was at least sitting down. Yes.
“We don’t want to wait until Monday Mark. Your presentation was by far the best and we’d like you to have the job.”
I was gob-smacked. Absolutely speechless and Sue’s going “Mark? Mark? Are you still there?”
“Yes, I’m here Sue.” She asked me if I was happy and I told her I couldn’t even begin to say how I felt as I’m just an illiterate Essex boy who can’t find the words to describe it, but I did manage to say thank you and that I wouldn’t let her down.
She then pointed out that the one question I hadn’t asked was about the salary. I told her I didn’t care! [No wonder you got the job Mark]
I had to tell the wife but I literally couldn’t speak so I decided to text her. She was in the park with my younger son who’s 10 and his mate turned to him and said “Is your Mum OK?” and he’s looked round and she’s going mental, shouting and screaming.
We had a big party that night.