Profile by Ian Nicholson
Chris Sexton was born in Northern Germany 25 years ago where his father was in the Medical Corps. His dad, now a retired Major, was involved in Medical Logistics and setting up Field Hospitals in both Gulf Wars, Afghanistan and Nepal. Like most families in the Forces the Sextons moved around and Chris lived in Germany, Catterick, Colchester, Hong Kong and Pirbright/ Aldershot as a child. He enjoyed it all but particularly loved the 2 years in Hong Kong.
School was similarly varied but latterly Chris was at Gordon’s School in Bisley. As a teenager Chris’s main sport was rugby where he moved from Flanker to Wing to Second Row in the school firsts (not in the same game!). A ruptured spleen however put paid to his rugby days! Chris also played football and was a keen distance runner and orienteer –completing the stretching Ten Tors in Devon.
Living in Farnborough Chris took a degree in Sports Science; this involved studying Anatomy, Psychology, Diet and Nutrition – specialising in Personal Training in the third year. His work experience for four years was a few weeks work each year with Jane Spong in the Community department at Woking. He obviously impressed and upon graduating Scott Harrison, head of the Football in the Community scheme, took Chris on for a few hours a week which eventually grew to 25 hours. When Scott left for Brighton’s Academy Chris was given the role full time.
Chris still enjoys watching rugby but football is his first love with Liverpool being his Premiership team. (‘my glory seeking cousin, who now supports Man Utd, gave me a Liverpool track suit and so I thought they would be good to follow’.) High points include the Champions League win and being at the FA cup win against West Ham the day before seeing Woking’s Trophy Final at Upton Park.
Sexton’s love of Woking began towards the end of the 95/96 season when he wandered along to see the Cards against Dorchester. It was a good year with a third Trophy win against Dagenham. Chris’s favourite players down the years have been Clive Walker and Neil Smith ( ‘a great leader on the pitch’ ) and he highlights Craig Faulconbridge as a favourite of the current squad. Particularly memorable performances include his first Trophy final against Daggers, the 3 -3 draw with Shrewsbury and getting into the Play Offs last season.
We will get back to the Community role soon but Chris is also Woking’s match day Safety Officer and we go on a Stewarding side track! I was on the PA at both of the most difficult games of recent years (does Andy Turner know something!) against Newport and Oxford and realised how unpredictable and hard to manage a crowd can become. Against Oxford my increasingly school teacher like requests for Oxford fans to move ( ‘I can stay here all day – it is your time your wasting and not mine!’) as the kick off was delayed by 45 minutes showed how challenging stewarding and ground safety can be at times. Aged 18 Sexton saw an advert asking for Stewards and enrolled; he has thus been doing it regularly for 7 years but points out that many others have been around longer. All the Stewards now have an NVQ level 2 in spectator safety and Chris has a level 4. Chris is full of praise for the Stewards feeling they do a great job but ‘unfortunately only get noticed when things don’t go smoothly.’
Back to the coaching in the community Woking do a fantastic job working in 8 local schools as well as working with adults with mental health issues at Alpha Hospital and other adult groups with severe learning difficulties. The coaching is a full time 5 day a week responsibility with sessions lasting 3 or 4 hours. In the primary schools Woking coaches soccer but also bring in teaching on lifestyle issues and spill over into After School clubs and holiday clubs.
The Centre of Excellence then bridges the gap between Woking’s Football in the Community and the Academy through working with the 11 to 15 year olds. Here Chris works with Dennis North, Matt Howard and an excellent team of coaches who run trials with the local district squads. The club doesn’t want to draw the players away from their local clubs so host one training session a week for each age group and organise about ten friendly games a year against other CoE’s at Fulham, Crawley or Southampton.
Finally (‘where does he find the time?’) Chris also coaches a local Under 14’s team at Meadow Sports where he is obviously pleased and proud of their achievements and progress in the West Surrey Premier . Gez Sole, as well as a host of other professional and semi professional players came through the Meadow system and Chris believes one or two of the players in his current team could really flourish and progress in the game.
Chris Sexton is an example of the sort of people who hold Woking FC together behind the scenes – hard working, affable, enthusiastic and low profile. When I ask Chris why he does it he simply responds very matter of factly ‘I love the club and put my all into it.’ Thanks Chris for all you do!
Role: Safety Officer & Community Coach