Written on March 4, 2017
SOME people just can’t resist the urge to get themselves on camera. You know the type. Photo-bombers, selfie-queens, vloggers. Now you can add a non-league footballer you the list – SALFORD CITY captain Simon Grand.
Salford were playing the defender’s former club AFC Telford last Saturday and went behind to a 12th-minute strike by former Oldham striker Lee Hughes. Richie Allen levelled on 50 minutes and, just two minutes later, Grand stretched every sinew to get his head to a George Green corner.
The ball struck a defender, then the keeper got a hand to it, and eventually it bobbled over the line for what proved to be the winning goal. It was scrappy, but did Grand care? Not one jot. And he’d already planned his celebration, heading for a GoPro camera that was attached to the net and letting out a scream of joy right down the lens.
Grand takes up the story: “A few of the staff are still at Telford from when I was there and I saw the lad who does the media setting up a camera in the back of the goal. Jokingly, I said ‘you do realise that if I score in that goal I’m going to run off with your camera!’
“Then our media guys set one up in the bottom goal but they tied theirs to the net, so when I scored I was actually trying to take it off the net. I couldn’t quite get it off, otherwise I think I’d have run down the pitch with it, but it worked out to be good viewing in the end anyway.”
That’s an understatement. Salford already get a lot of traffic online given the attention around the club’s rapid rise up the non-league ladder. Their innovative media team generates even more. But, by Thursday, the clip of Grand’s ‘goalcam’ clip (which you can watch below) had got almost 10 times the traffic their video clips normally do.
It’s also been nominated for the Non League Challenge, a competition run by Marathonbet to find the best goal celebration in non-league football. And Grand is becoming a serial offender.
“I’ve done it before,” he told Beyond the Big Two. “When I was at Barrow, we played Stalybridge away (March 2015). We scored a goal – it wasn’t even mine – but our player went behind the goal to celebrate and I tripped over a camera on a tripod. As I went to stand it back up I took a few selfies with the crowd.
“The cameraman tagged me on Twitter a few days later saying ‘this is what happens when a footballer gets hold of your camera!’ It wasn’t intentional, it wasn’t planned. It was just there and I grabbed it. When you get a goal, especially being a defender, you don’t get many so you’ve got to enjoy them while you can.”
Grand has actually got a few this season. After arriving from Barrow last summer, the 33-year-old’s got 7 in 30 games for Salford. Not bad for a centre-half. He’s never reached double figures in a season before but with 11 games left, and potentially the play-offs with the Ammies in 2nd place, this could be his year.
“It’s always a target I’ve set myself,” he said. “It works out at a goal every 5 games, so it doesn’t sound a lot when you say it like that! So if I can knock in a few more before the end of the season I’ll be happy.”
Salford will take goals from any source as they aim to clinch a 3rd straight promotion while Grand hopes to keep up his own impressive record. The former Rochdale trainee, who played 40 League games for Dale before playing for the likes of Carlisle, Northwich Victoria and Southport, could win promotion from non-league’s second tier for the 3rd time in 4 years.
“I’ve won the Conference North with Telford and Barrow so I’ve been joking with the lads that we can’t drop below 2nd because I’ve never finished lower than that in this league. I’ve got to keep my record going!” he said.
Last week’s win over Telford kept Salford above Kidderminster on goal difference, before travelling to 8th-placed Tamworth today.
“It was only a few weeks ago that they were up in the play-off positions themselves. They’ve had a bit of a poor run and dropped down so it shows what can happen in this league. It’s that tight,” Grand added. “They’ve got an astroturf pitch so that’s something a bit different. But if we can pick up a good result there it sets us up for a difficult month of fixtures coming up, with Brackley away then Stockport and Chorley at home.
“We’ve put ourselves in a great position. Whether we’ll catch Fylde seems unlikely at this stage – 10 points behind with 11 games left. But it’s a case of cementing ourselves in the play-offs and as long as we keep ticking off the wins, we’ll be in there.”
And anyone who dares to put up a camera at any of Salford’s remaining games should beware. Grand is not done with the celebrations yet.
“I’m going to have to add it to my warm-ups now, going on a scouting mission to keep finding the cameras!”