Ian Nockolds, the voice of the Toolstation Western League podcast, has this week interviewed the new General Secretary for the Toolstation Western League, Jen Gregory. Here’s what they have to say: 

Ian Nockolds: So I'm delighted to welcome to the Toolstation Western League podcast, our new General Secretary, Jen Gregory. Jen, thank you very much for taking the time to speak to us. And welcome to the podcast and welcome to the Toolstation Western League. Can you tell us a bit about the role that the General Secretary does?

Jen Gregory: The General Secretary role is not unlike a club secretary in many ways. We're kind of the glue that holds everything together. Broadly speaking, my role is to ensure the League, its members, which is the club's, operate to standards expected, and basically comply with various rules and regulations. I'm a bit of a communications conduit between clubs and the Board, and the Board and the FA. In terms of day to day stuff, you'll find me checking Full Time processes, maintaining Fair Play awards, producing statistics, taking minutes and fielding calls, that kind of thing.

Ian Nockolds: So you've obviously taken over partway through this season and I know that's going to involve obviously working with your predecessor, Andy Radford, as part of a handover process, but I mean, what are your priorities for the Western League at the moment? Do you think the clubs will notice any differences between now and the end of the season?

Jen Gregory: Clubs should already be seeing a difference. So Andy's very much shadowing the role until the end of the season. So he's going to be around. But what is happening now is that he's slowly letting me off the leash. So clubs will gradually see more correspondence from myself. You'll also see me on match days, again. So if you know who I am, please come and say hello, that will be very welcomed. But a priority that I'm looking at in more detail is safeguarding. Just checking on who, those personnel are involved with the U18's. And basically, do they have the correct qualification to be with under 18s on Match days.

Ian Nockolds: And what about the longer term? I mean, obviously, in the Western League at the moment, particularly, in our, step five, in our Premier Division, the issue of travel, and the organisation of the league is a hot topic for our clubs. But I mean, what do you hope for the future of the Toolstation Western League?

Jen Gregory: Travel has always been a contentious issue in the Western League, but it's really not anything new. So there has always been those big distances to cover. 30 years or more ago, the likes of Radstock and Welton, and you can single them out because they're not near a motorway connection, we're still traveling, to Devon and Cornwall, without the luxury of some of the vehicles and the coaches that we've got today. And indeed, without that road infrastructure. So I obviously can't tell you too much information because I'm new, and I don't know that. But from what I've seen from the Board, that Board will do its utmost to ensure that the League remains both sustainable and competitive for the future.

Ian Nockolds: Now, one of the questions I ask the managers on the podcast, particularly the first time I get them on, is to give us a little bit of background. I ask them to tell me about their footballing journey to their respective dugout and I'm gonna ask you a similar question, Jen. Can you tell me about your footballing journey to the Western League Boardroom?

Jen Gregory: It started perhaps 20 years or more ago. I joined the Somerset County Football Association and clubs in Somerset will probably know me. I headed up what is now called Football Services. And that dealt with discipline rules, regulations, sanctioning, cup competitions. But during that time, I was obviously bitten by a football bug. I became a League Secretary and a Treasurer of a local men's Junior League. I've also been a club secretary, I've been in the tea hut and I also met my husband through football. So I left Somerset FA around two years ago, but that brought about some different football opportunities, which was primarily with the Somerset County League as a Regulation Director, and also with the FA, and I'm very privileged to sit on what they call it a National Serious Case Panel. So that's discipline offenses that are, as the name suggests, serious, with assaults and discrimination offenses. But in December, I was really thrilled to be offered the role with the Western League. And I'm hoping that I can add a lot of value to what is a really fabulous Board of Directors and make the Western League the League of the South West.

To hear more from the Toolstation Western League Podcast, visit: http://toolstationleague.com/podcasts/