Gareth Seddon is a man who likes to keep busy. The Ramsbottom striker has spent years hustling defences up and down the country, and his lifestyle off the pitch is equally as hectic.
We’ve been racking our brains at Ladbrokes News and simply cannot find anyone else who is juggling a football career, a modelling career and a football agency all at the same time.
And that’s without mentioning his star turn on the BBC documentary ‘Class of 92’.
Throw in a wine and cheese bar, a young family, and we’ve got a man who doesn’t like to do things by halves.
But that’s 36-year-old Seddon, and it’s typical of a person who has never considered taking things easy in a career which has lasted over 15 years.
Over the next few months, we’ll be talking exclusively to the former Fleetwood Town striker on everything from photo shoots, to Manchester United’s Class of 92, fine wines and Jamie Vardy’s rapid rise to stardom.
So let’s get stuck in…
Having begun his football career at Bury, Seddon is now at Northern Premier League Division One outfit Ramsbottom, following spells at Hyde – where he netted 52 goals in 75 games – Kettering, Fleetwood and Chester, among others.
The Burnley-born hitman knows his playing days are drawing to a close, but he has plenty lined up to keep him occupied once his hangs up his boots, launching a football agency five months ago in addition to running his own bar in Ramsbottom.
“I don’t know what a normal week is, to be honest with you,” says Seddon.
“Between the agency and the wine bar, they’ll become my 100 per cent focus when I retire and they already take up most of my time now to be honest.
Discovering the undiscovered
“The agency in particular is something I’ve been looking to do for a couple of years now, for when I hang up my boots.”
Seddon has teamed up with Kiko Rodriguez – father of Southampton’s Jay – and former Wigan and Bury midfielder Jason Jarrett to launch DRN Sports.
He added: “Jason and I have been best mates for 20 years, and when I started putting the team together I couldn’t have wished for anyone better to join us.
“The aim of the agency is simple. We want to give Non-League players an opportunity.
“I know Jamie Vardy from our days at Fleetwood. I’ve seen his story first-hand, and with DRN Sports we know there are so many more players at Non-League who just haven’t got that break yet, so we’re trying to find them and give them that shot. We want to find the next Jamie Vardy.”
Seddon’s own experiences have played a key role in his drive to help the undiscovered finally land their chance.
“I was playing in the First Division with Bury, and unfortunately got a blood disease and had to retire from professional football. I had to drop to Non-League and it was only thanks to my agent that I managed to pave a career for nine or ten years in Non-League,” he explained.
“There are so many class players in Non-League, who maybe at 18 years of age might just miss out on a professional contract.
“But by the time they get to 21, 22 they’re brilliant and more than good enough to be back into the Football League, but they can get swept under the carpet and overlooked.
“So I’m hoping we can give those lads a second chance. That’s why we’re spending so much time watching Non-League games and youth games – I’m watching around seven games a week – keeping an eye out for the special talents.”
Seddon spent the 2011-2012 season alongside the future England hotshot at Fleetwood Town, after the Cod Army spent £50k bringing Vardy in from Halifax.
While the union may have been short, the pair didn’t waste any time, scoring almost 40 goals between them, in addition to countless assists as the Lancashire outfit romped to the Conference National title.
And Vardy’s story is one which Seddon marvels at.
“Jamie Vardy is the ultimate inspiration for Non-League footballers. He’s a bit like a Non-League Rocky Balboa! If he ran through the streets of Leicester there would be 500 kids following him.”
“He spent six years at Stocksbridge, and you just wonder how can a player who is that good spend six years undiscovered at that level, and still make it?”
Seddon added: “The story will never be repeated. You will get plenty of Non-League players coming through and getting into the Premier League because the talent will always be out there, but it won’t quite be like Jamie’s story.
“But for Jamie to go through what he’s been through, going to Halifax, going to Fleetwood. Landing a million pound move to Leicester, and then not only for him to break into the team, but to break the Premier League scoring record, to win the Premier League, to play for England and to score for England.
“It’s unbelievable. Incredible.”
Star of the Salford Show
Seddon’s own career came to national prominence last Autumn while during his two-year spell at Salford City, thanks to the BBC documentary ‘Class of 92’.
Part-owned by five of Sir Alex Ferguson’s famous fledglings – Gary and Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt – the two series of the show focussed on their endeavours to guide Salford City up the Non-League ladder.
Seddon proved a key man in front of the camera and and on the pitch, firing in 31 goals in just 74 games to help the Ammies win the Northern Premier League Division One North title in 2015 and promotion from the Northern Premier League last term.
“I had an amazing time at Salford. Even in the second year when things didn’t go well for me, I was out for seven months and it wrecked my whole season, I enjoyed being a part of the journey.
“Thankfully with the ending that I had, with that dream goal against Ashton in the play-off semi-finals it kind of sealed it all off nicely.”
But fame on national television wasn’t without its pitfalls.
Seddon explained: “The TV cameras did add extra pressure for us at Salford. Even for me and I’m quite used to that sort of thing compared to some of the younger players, it added pressure.”
“You didn’t want to have a bad game or say anything wrong. And you always knew that the Class of 92 were in and amongst the crowd, that kind of added pressure was big.
“But I’d like to think I thrive on that kind of pressure, I wanted to impress Gary, and Scholesy and the rest. But for some of the young lads it did put them off their game. It was character building for some of them.
“But with the likes of myself, and Danny Webber in the team, plus the gaffers Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley, there were plenty of experienced heads.
“And speaking of the gaffers, don’t believe everything that you see on the telly!
“Away from the cameras they’re two really genuine nice guys, they’d put their arm around players if they needed it. But they’d still whack you in the ribs if you needed that too!”
“They knew how to work the dressing room. The cameras did bring extra pressure, but you can see from the results and with successive promotions that everybody at Salford dealt with it really well.”
Footballers at Christmas
Back to the present day though, and Seddon is once again preparing for a busy festive period, and he knows full-well the demands required of footballers at this time of year.
“I always used to have to go in on Christmas Day for training. At the time I didn’t have a family but I’d look around at some of the older players, and they’d have kids at home.
“They’d have to get up really early to open the presents with their kids but then leave at nine in the morning to go to training instead of enjoying the day with their family. That’s not enjoyable for anyone.”
“I know footballers get a lot of stick for the money they earn, but you’ve got to remember that 90 per cent of footballers are playing in League One or League Two, the National League and below.
“They aren’t in the Premier League and they don’t get paid great money. They play at Christmas because they absolutely love the game and they are in a lucky situation, but they’ve still got to sacrifice to a lot,” Seddon said.
“It’s a busy period at Christmas.”
“You’re in on Christmas Day training because you’ve got a game on Boxing Day. You’ve then usually got a game on the 28th and then everyone’s partying on New Years’ Eve but you’re training to be ready for the game on New Year’s Day.
“I know clubs do give a couple of days off for the lads and can have a drink at the right times, but it’s a massively important part of the season. And lads just have to sacrifice those nights out and that time with the family to make sure your team does well. That’s what you get paid to do.”
When asked to describe what he does do for a living, Seddon was at a loss for words to explain how he juggles his commitments.
“I wouldn’t know how to describe what I do! I’ve got my fingers in so many pies but my job now is a full-time football agent. I’m an FA qualified intermediary.
“I am looking to life after playing football and have been for some time. For example, I can’t play this weekend because I’m a pundit for BT on their Conference National coverage. I’m trying to forge a future for after retirement, which isn’t always easy.”
“That wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for things like the Salford City documentary. I’m so privileged to do stuff like this and I hope it can continue. But I know how quickly things can change in life and in football, and I’m just trying to make the most of it while I can.”
We’ll be chatting to Gareth again in the coming months, finding out how arguably the busiest man in football is getting on.
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