Getting To Know You: Liam Claffey - Eagles GM
In the latest 'Getting To Know You', Eagles GM Liam Claffey talks us through his role, the day-to-day running of the club and, most importantly, how he puts up with Mark Aston on a daily basis..
Role at the club and what it entails:
I’m not sure where to start really!
Tubby (Mark Aston) and I are the only two full-time members of staff, so my role is pretty varied day-to-day, and I spin number of different plates really.
Running the club is essentially my role; liaising with the RFL; ensuring we adhere to operational rules, submitting contracts, attending meetings etc, to organising and running match days; producing the programme, managing our great volunteers, ensure the event runs as smoothly as possible to the club office, managing the website, ticketing, merchandise etc, liaising with supporting and then a lot of administration based stuff I won’t bore you with!
The setup of the club is a world away from how the club looked a few years ago with FT Finance, Marketing, Commercial roles, and development officers so it would be great to get back to that!
Things are full on and got to be on 24/7 but that said, we have got a great board of directors, backroom staff, and volunteers on a match day who we couldn’t operate without!
When did you become involved?
I came to Sheffield for university in 2008 and was proving a bit difficult and costly to travel back to St. Helens to watch the Saints.
The Eagles did £5 student tickets at the time and with them playing at Bramall Lane and me living on Eccy (Ecclesall) Road, I started watching in 2010.
Supporter Andrew Senior is either to blame or thank for me getting hooked really, I started attending games home and away with him and the ‘Away Tarts’.
Along with playing for the club, Tim Bergin was heading up the marketing for the club at the time and I got in touch to see if I could help as my degree was in Business and Marketing and owe a lot to him for that.
He left for a new job in Bristol at the end of the 2012 season and I’d finished at Uni in May of that year so applied for the vacant role. It was minimum wage but club took a chance and for which I'm still extremely grateful.
I left midway through 2014 and worked in digital marketing role and then going abroad to manage trade shows (not as exciting as it sounds) before Tubbs got in contact halfway through the 2015 season to say Andy Giles (then GM) was retiring in September and if I’d like to come back.
I’d missed working in sport and jumped at the chance – Andy and Simon (Proctor) before him were both great fountains of knowledge which was a huge help as they were big shoes to fill.
Favourite Memory from the role:
I’ve been at the club just over 5 seasons now and someone mentioned I’ve held the role (consecutively) the longest which is either shows a test of character or I'm foolish! Whilst some of it has not been the best of times, certainly at the end of 2016, I’m proud to have played a part in keeping the club alive and bringing it back to the city – there is a lot of work to do on that front but I want to see that through and ensure the OLP is a suitable and sustainable place for the club for years to come.
There are times when it’s quite difficult and stressful and a lot that goes unnoticed and rightly so, people should just be able to enjoy the action on the pitch but despite that been some great times.
In terms of picking out favourite individual memories, that has a tough one as there has been so many in a relatively short space of time!
On the field, the victory against Wakefield at the end of 2015 was great, running a game at Bramall Lane with a 2,000 crowd was a great experience.
2017 when the boys put 50 past Braford was a highlight too and the victory away at York and at home to Toulouse last season were fantastic.
Despite the results I have enjoyed the trips to Toulouse and the one to Toronto. Stressful in parts and can be full on but good trips overall – certainly defeating Batley to then head to the South of France the week later for the Championship Shield Final was a great and memorable trip!
But, and I’m sure it’s no surprise, the trip to Wembley last year is head and shoulders my highlight.
The video Keith (Senior) put together the night before the game and speeches from John Kear and Paul Broadbent who handed the shirts out is an evening I’ll never forget. It was raw and emotional and I thought then, if that affected the players the way it did me, I knew we would win.
The week leading up to it I remember being up to 2am sorting photos and designing personalised banners for each of the players pegs in the changing room and result was great – Brian and Nathan (kit men) did a great job. Being in the changing rooms, on the pitch, everything was amazing.
I apologise for the state I was in at the New Barrack Tavern on the Sunday and can’t remember much but I’ve hit the drink on the head so hopefully if we make another final I’ll remember more of the celebrations the day later!
If you could trust one Eagles player with your role, who would it be and why:
Err, tough one that! Like Mick (Heys) said in his piece, Tubby tries to get involved, even after he says ‘I don’t want to get involved’ but I have learnt some tips and tricks how to deal with him which I won’t share here!
Ex-Players, Patch Walker runs quite a successful business, hasn’t got the best time keeping but think he has a business savvy head. Mark Offerdahl is a bit of an entrepreneur; he’d probably thinks he could do it.
Current players I’d probably say Anthony Thackeray, again runs his own business and bit of an older head or Rob Worrincy.
Have to be thinking about a lot of different things at once and like Keith (Senior) said in his interview there are quite a few bit characters and personalities that you have to deal.
I’m (hopefully) not going anywhere just yet though!
Interview with Liam Claffey conducted in March 2020