Owners of football clubs come in many different forms in today’s game. Billionaires, heck even trillionaires, movie stars and nation states make up most of the ownership of the clubs we are used to seeing on our TVs.

At Rossington Main, plying their trade in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division, the ownership model is simple in comparison- A family man who also happens to be working a full-time job on the side.

Daniel Linstrum, 46, walked in the doors at Rossington five years ago and hasn’t looked back since. “I went down, and I was hooked from day one to be honest” Before exploring his contribution to the club over the years, it is essential to see where his love for the non-league game started.

Originally from Leeds, and an Everton fan for his sins, Dan started following his local side Garforth Town to get closer to the action, and this was the start of the non-league ride he’s been on since. Having met his partner in Doncaster, Dan relocated to Rossington where he began volunteering at Rossington Main, before accidentally ending up at the helm. “I was helping, getting the kits ready and making sure the changing rooms were ready, getting kit to away games and so on.

“The previous chairman left and there was an opening and I said I’d do it in the interim and two years later I’m still doing it, and I won’t give it up for anything, to be honest.” 

Personal gain isn’t a motivation at this level of the game. Having supported a top division side for all his life in Everton, access to players and managers doesn’t come nearly as close to the non-league game, something Dan cited:

“It’s a little bit more personal, you can get closer to the action.

“You can build closer relationships with players, and you know, see players move on and that’ll always make me happy.

“People walk round Rossington and say what you’ve done for the football club is great and that gives me a great sense of pride.”

The plan wasn’t to stay in charge, but the bug got him. A 40–50-hour work week on top of raising two young kids would appear too much for some, but Daniel’s career has only gone hand in hand with his spell at Rossington. 

“For me it’s all about teams and making sure you can motivate teams as well. I have a big team that reports to me at work, and likewise I have a team at the football ground. I’ve experienced hiring and firing at work, so I always say that if it’s a shock to someone then you’ve not done your job.

“It’s also helped me in my career because in the two years I’ve been doing the chairman’s job I’ve come on leaps and bounds within my professional job as well.”

Results have been on the up ever since Daniel took the reins at Rossington. His first full season saw them make the playoffs after finishing fifth in the Northern Counties Division One, before narrowly losing out to North Ferriby Fc. A year later they corrected their mistakes, defeating Horbury Town in the playoff final, after finishing third in the regular season. A crowd of 1,100 saw The Blues win promotion at their own ground, a night no one involved with the club is ever likely to forget. They currently sit in the highest league position in their history, after a 20 year stay in their previous division, where those connected with the club probably doubted, they’d ever get out of. For Dan, the achievement certainly hit home: 

“You know, I was nearly in tears. To do it on our home ground as well and just to see all the people cheering and all the people in town after the night out, yeah, it’s just unbelievable, it makes it all worthwhile.”

Even after promotion, Rossington have held their own after making the step up, currently occupying fifth position, making a seamless transition to step five. Additions like Ross Hannah have certainly made the step up easier, adding vast amounts of experience of playing at far higher levels than he is currently operating at. The Sheffield born striker has netted 44 goals in 51 games at Rossington, and has stints at Grimsby and Bradford to boot, going full circle from his origins in non-league at Worksop Town. A solid Recruitment plan and a settled management have clearly paid off in keeping the club competitive on and off the pitch. Dan has a clear policy when it comes to dealing with his staff.

“I never interfere with team selections, never interfere with any managers, the first team has a budget and if it’s within that budget, he can sign or release who he wants. 

“They’re measured on results and measured on conduct. I try not to get too bogged down in results, if the right infrastructure is in place, and we’ve got people in the right positions.”

One other notable success was the birth of a Ladies’ Team, which is only a few years old, and is the first the club has ever had. The team competes against the likes of Sheffield Wednesday’s Ladies First Team and Rotherham United Women Reserves and occupy 7th place in the Sheffield & Hallamshire Women & Girls League. They also have an under 18s Ladies side, ensuring the next generation of girls have a route to first team football when they have grown out of the youth game.

In conversation on the topic, I noticed the pride which Dan felt when speaking about the Ladies’ side:

“Rossington have never had a ladies team so to get that up and running was a big highlight. To then get an under 18s team in the Ladies game was a massive achievement. 

“Naomi my daughter who’s four next month and she likes to watch the girls play, so it works well.”

Financially, there are certainly drawbacks to success, as on average it costs £150,000 a month to run a Step One non-league club, but it’s also on the pitch, where the pressure to improve can be felt. Dan made this clear when he talked about the vision he has for Rossington: 

“We’d like to get to the Northern Prem eventually, which is the division above and that would be the ultimate goal. But you know we’re not a club that just chucks every penny into the playing budget, we do invest in the footprint as well. So, if we can go up again and continue to develop the ground that will be the next goal.”

Clearly with a plan in place, but not one that will involve millions of pounds or dodgy dealings with super agents, you can expect Mr Linstrum to continue to oversee the tidy project he is building at Rossington Main, at least for the foreseeable future.