BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Grant Basey is back on the Charlton Athletic payroll as the kitman – but admits his dream is to one day manage the club.
The 29-year-old former Addicks left-back retired from playing in February 2017.
Basey had been coaching Charlton’s under-16s before working with the under-15s in the campaign just completed.
By February of this year he took on a different role after mentioning to training ground staff he would be interested in replacing outgoing kitman Chalky Meek.
“It was a throwaway comment and I didn’t think any more about it,” explained Basey. “I said it on the Sunday and then I was driving to work and Karl Robinson rang me and said he would like me to do it.
“He thought it would be a no-brainer with my connection to the club and having the playing experience, to have another football person around the building.
“Last season I was able to carry on doing the under-15s but I’m not sure how it is going to work moving forward. I’m not sure I’ll be able to do the under-15s but the academy still want me to do coaching and I do see my longer-term future as a coach.
“The kitman role takes priority right now, so if coaching takes a back step then so be it.”
Basey is finishing of his A licence and went on the same course as club captain Johnnie Jackson, who is set to fully move onto the coaching side next season.
“My ultimate dream would be to become a manager. And definitely one day my aim would be to manage Charlton. I was here from the age of nine to 21. Now I’m back again it is special. Half of my life has been associated to Charlton.
“A lot of the time it is about being giving an opportunity somewhere. I’m in no rush for it.”
Basey stopped playing professionally at 24.
He left Charlton in 2010 and had spells with Barnet, Peterborough and Wycombe Wanderers. Then followed time in non-league with Ebbsfleet United, VCD Athletic and Cray Wanderers.
“I did my ligaments in my knee at Wycombe, tried to come back and didn’t really feel like I could get back to the level I knew I could play at.
“I had a couple of years in non-league and then I did my other knee playing for Cray. It got to a stage where I fell out of love with the game. I had other stuff going on – I’ve lost my mum in the last couple of years – and there were other things that felt more important than playing football.
“I love watching games, I look at it from a coach’s perspective – what I would do differently – but the playing side I don’t actually miss. Some people find that quite strange, but it’s just how it is.”
Basey ripped his cruciate in his left knee at Wycombe and then a scan showed he had disrupted a ligament at the back of his right knee while playing for Cray.
“I didn’t have the mindset to go through all the rehab. I’d done it before and knew what a long road it was to get back to a certain sort of fitness level. I can still kick a ball around – I do that with the boys – but if I play in a game then my knees hurt quite a bit afterwards.”
Basey’s mum Kim passed away with bowel cancer and he ran the London Marathon to raise money for Cancer Research.
“It puts life into perspective,” he said. “I say it to the young boys I coach: ‘In football, you’re in a bubble’. It takes you to come out of that world to realise what the real world is like. You are shielded a bit as a footballer, you have everything done for us.
“The real world hits you, well it hit me. I had that happen with my mum and sadly she didn’t make it. You realise football isn’t the be-all and end-all that you thought it was. There are so many things you can do in life to achieve happiness and doing the London Marathon was an amazing experience.
“I’d highly recommend it to anyone, whether you are doing it for charity or not. It made it a bit more special for me that it was.
“It was quite a surreal experience for me, in terms of how I got into it. I’d applied for a few charities and never got through. On the day of my mum’s funeral I was back at the wake and I had a voicemail from a person at Cancer Research who wanted to offer me a place. Of all the days for it to happen, it was that day.
“My mum was a big part of my football, driving me everywhere.”
Basey, capped by Wales at youth level, spent a couple of weeks shadowing Meek.
“It is quite amazing how much stuff gets taken for one game. It is a lot of responsibility. It’s down to us to bring it all and take it all back.
“I must admit for away games I’m a little bit on edge on a Friday – have I got everything? I’ll go out and check the van three or four times even though I know it’s there. I haven’t forgotten anything yet.
“We have a big Ford transit van which is full to the brim. We’ve got a TV which comes in the back of the van – a big widescreen one – which is for analysis at half-time. It is pretty much instant after the end of the first half, showing the areas for us to improve.
“We have spares of nearly everything, all the medical equipment and sports science stuff – and the music box; the players wouldn’t be happy without that. Then there is the general stuff that you take to a game – shin pads, boots, goalkeeper gloves and foam rollers.
“You’ve got to look after all 18 players involved and they all have their own little things they like. Then there are six or seven staff – you have got to be on the ball.
“For a footballer you want everything to be ready so you just have to prepare yourself and be in the right mental state for the game.
“You know you have done a good job if no-one comes up asking for stuff. That is when you know you have done something right.”