If you were to ask typical football fans to pick out a star of the game, the obvious names would likely come up more often than not.
Lionel Messi? Cristiano Ronaldo? Perhaps England’s Harry Kane, or in more recent times Raheem Sterling, even?
But those who truly love football know that hidden beneath the glamour of elite competitions such as the Premier League and La Liga are a number of people who make the game tick.
James Glassup is one such person. Assistant kitman at Hampton and Richmond Borough FC in the National League South, Glassup displays a level of commitment to his club that inspires all around him.
Born and bred in Hampton, Glassup first became a regular at the Beveree as a fan in 2004, supporting his cousin who played for the side and friends who were in the academy.
After several years displaying unrivalled levels of support he was offered a job in the club’s bar, where he worked for two seasons before being given the chance to lend a hand to long-serving kitman, Malcolm Taylor.
Now going into his seventh campaign in the role, Glassup travels home and away with the side and is recognised as a key member of manager Gary McCann’s coaching staff.
Hampton and Richmond goalkeeping coach David Smalley recognises the qualities that Glassup brings to the Beavers’ backroom team.
His attention to detail, friendly attitude and passion for the game ensures that McCann and his team have everything they need before, during and after a game.
Nothing is too much trouble for Glassup and he has often been lauded by members of rival clubs for his welcoming approach, helpful nature and ever-present smile.
Glassup’s popularity isn’t limited to Hampton and the way he deals with opposing teams doesn’t go unnoticed.
During his time at Hampton, Glassup has experienced the many highs and lows of non-league football.
He picked out the Beavers’ 2016 Isthmian Premier Division title win as one of the best days of his life, while last season’s route to the FA Cup first round was up there, too.
But it’s not just his work with the first team that makes Glassup stand out as a star of the game.
Having helped set up the Feltham Bees disability team in his younger years, he was asked by a Hampton board member whether it would be possible to achieve something similar at the Beveree.
Between Glassup and his father Bill, they duly formed the HRBFC Pan-Disability side. Six years on, they are still going strong.
Despite suffering from hydrocephalus and cerebral palsy, Glassup seamlessly combines administration, managerial and playing duties for the pan-disability side with his commitment to the first team.
His work ensures opportunities to get involved in sport are available to everyone and his dedication to the game and the club as a whole make him a key figure at Hampton and Richmond Borough.
While Glassup enjoys a rare break during the off-season, you can bet your bottom dollar he will be itching to get back in the dug out ahead of Hampton’s first pre-season game at home to Harrow Borough on July 6.
Featured photograph/Peter White