Published: 00:00, 06 May 2016
Gillingham’s kit man Malcolm Stedman is retiring – at the age of 74.
He has been keeping the Gills looking their best for the last nine years but will wash his last kit when this season ends.
He took on the job at Priestfield when most would be thinking of winding down, quitting his milk round to work for the club he has been a fan of since the age of eight.
It was quite a career change and one his wife Pat might have raised an eyebrow at.
He said: “My wife does the washing at home and has done it since the first week we got married. I washed a pleated skirt of hers and ruined it – she’s taken charge of the washing ever since!”
Gills’ popular kitman probably wouldn’t want to see any more washing after finishing a shift at Priestfield, which means 4am starts to ensure the first team, development team, youth players and coaches all have clean kit to wear. With seven items per player, it’s a fair sized load.
He made the adjustment from milkman – which he had been for 17 years – to kitman, under previous incumbent Bob Lewin. Stedman was shown the ropes while working voluntarily at the end of his morning rounds.
When Lewin left, then manager Ronnie Jepson was keen to keep Stedman on and he was given the job on a permanent basis.
His last game is sure to be an emotional one for Stedman, who has seen eight managers come and go and been privy to plenty of behind-the-scenes action at the club over the years.
He said: “My final game will be a sad day but I have had some wonderful times over the last nine years. It has been great. I would like to thank the past and present managers, coaches and players for their friendship, help and banter over those years.
“I would also like to thank my son-in-law John Coveney and grandson Jack for their help and to Bryan Bull and Jackie McKenzie (the cleaner).”
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More by this authorLuke Cawdell