In the latest installment of our 'Day in the life of...' series Andrew Lawn spoke to programme seller Kelly Arthur about her average matchday.
“I started selling programmes when I turned 16. My dad, neighbours and a few of their family did it too and I followed in their footsteps. I had never been to a football match before my first game working as a seller.
I get to the ground at about midday for a 3pm kick off and can usually be found shoving a burger into my face before the first fans start to arrive.
I am one of a number of sellers located around the ground and the streets outside. We are each allocated our own pitch and set sales targets, above which we can earn commission to top up the minimum wage. My first pitch saw me stationed high up in in the Barclay Upper. By the time they reached me, fans had passed 2 or 3 sellers outside so I was lucky if I sold 20 up there. Over a decade on and I have been promoted to one of the busiest pitches, located outside the ground and now sell around 250 each game. The benefit of the move outside is more sales but it has its downsides in the winter when the weather is often freezing cold, soaking wet or both.
I love the social part of the job and I have made lots of new friends, both colleagues and customers over the years. There is also a family tradition to it, I meet people who used to buy programmes from my dad and now they come to me and ask after him and our family.
The away fans are nearly always great, although some drunk Ipswich fans stole my parasol (which are strangely sought after) after the Play-Off semi-final. Of course I also have my regulars who buy one every game and will bring me cups of tea on a freezing cold afternoon and even the odd bar of chocolate (Wispa is the favourite if anyone is interested).
In fact being a programme seller can make you feel like a celebrity at times, as often people will recognise me when I'm just walking through the city. I meet too many people to be able to recognise them all, so I’m sorry if I don’t who you are… The same thing happens with the police officers who I see each matchday and then will come and say hi when I’m on the school run, leading to suspicious looks from the other parents.
As well as selling programmes, we are also a mini tourist information service. Every week I’ll be asked; where's the nearest pub, McDonalds or cash machine?
As the game kicks off, we are still outside selling to the late comers, but we then move inside to sell more around the pitch at half-time. At this point I have to keep half an eye on loose balls from subs while not getting in Captain Canary’s way.
Once the second half kicks off, I go back inside to cash up, normally heading home just before the full-time whistle so I miss the crowds."
Kelly is based just down from the Queen of the Iceni on Riverside, if you want to take her a Wispa, enquire about her parasol, or just buy a programme and say hello.