“The Gaffer” Documentary Premieres on BT Sport Tonight


From flipping pancakes on a Saturday morning with the family to masterminding a famous away day victory. There is never a dull moment in the life of a Manager in the Vanarama National League.

In the latest in the BT Sport Films series, “The Gaffer” gives a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of several bosses in the fifth tier.

Simon Weaver (Harrogate Town), Neil Smith (Bromley), Ben Strevens (Eastleigh), Craig Hignett (Hartlepool United) and John Still & Hakan Heyrettin (Maidstone United) opened the doors to give the cameras exclusive access at the end of the 2018/19 campaign.

Not only does the 90-minute documentary cover the highs and lows of the promotion chasers and those fighting against relegation, “The Gaffer” explores the personalities behind the men prowling the touchline on matchdays.

Speaking ahead of the premiere, Director Ben Lowe highlighted reasons for wanting to delve into this area.

He said: “I’ve forever been fascinated by football managers. The pressure is relentless and it can be a brutal experience, with a lot of supporters forgetting they are also human beings.

“What unites them is their ambition and bravery, knowing the likelihood of ‘failure’ is so high.

“Claudio Ranieri’s sacking at Leicester, less than a year after his epic Premier League win, inspired me to make something positive about gaffers in the modern game.



“The National League has brilliant personalities and it was incredible to properly experience their world”.

After guiding Harrogate Town to promotion in 2018, Simon Weaver welcomed the cameras to North Yorkshire.

With his father, Irving, Chairman of the Club, the Manager showed the unusual integration of his family and working life.

“It was a completely new experience to me because it was 24/7, but it was enjoyable, before you know it you forget the cameraman is actually there, “ Weaver explained.

“It was good to open the doors to Harrogate Town and also my family, there’s no hiding place on it, it reveals a lot, but I really enjoyed it!

“I’m fairly new to it at this level, but I’m enjoying it so far, every Manager I’ve come across at this level works ever so hard, they all do their research and their homework”.

On the South Coast, Ben Strevens provided insight into the transition from player to Assistant Manager to Manager in just a short period of time.

The Eastleigh boss said: “It was great to be part of this documentary.


“They followed us at a very crucial stage of our season and hopefully the pressures which came with this will be portrayed and will show a great insight in to the life of a non-league manager”.

At Hartlepool United, Craig Hignett gave insight into not only life on the touchline and training ground, but also the difficulties facing many Managers out of work.

Reflecting on his involvement, Hignett added: “Hopefully it gives fans a different perspective on what it is to be a football manager and a bit of an insight in to life in the National League and at a club like Hartlepool United”.

Elsewhere, Bromley boss Neil Smith explained what it means for him to be the Manager of his hometown Club, and the importance of working within the local community.

After suffering relegation from the Vanarama National League with matches still to play, the initial rebuilding plans of John Still and Hakan Heyrettin were underway.

“What impressed me the most was their honesty and sense of humour, which shine through the film,” Lowe added.

“Many managers in professional football are painfully media-trained and like to play cliché bingo, but I purposely wanted to feature gaffers who trusted I was making the documentary for the right reasons and this unfiltered insight is what I’m most proud of”.

Go behind the scenes with “The Gaffer” from 10.45pm tonight on BT Sport.