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Dorchester Town’s Keith Emmerson on combining the Army with football

Well, new Dorchester signing Keith Emmerson has.

Picking up more than 100 senior caps for the UK Armed Forces, Emmerson has been an integral part of the squad during his years of service.

So how does he do it? Pairing two demanding roles together at once demands flexibility – and the 39-year-old is lucky enough to have just that with his quartermaster sergeant instructor rank.

“I’m quite fortunate I’m in a job where I look after all the physical development for phase two training,” he told Echosport.

“That’s physical training, testing, adventure, training, sport and rehab. That’s my sole job that I deliver to Royal Artillery soldiers in Larkhill.

“I’m fortunate that my job is Monday to Friday. I don’t have to do weekends, I enjoy that.

“I run the programme, so I’m my own boss to a degree, and I’m home every night. It’s not a 9-5 job, I’m in at seven (am) and I have that flexibility that I don’t need to stay until seven at night.

“If the job’s done, I can leave earlier and that allows me to train and do evening games as well.”

And are there any transferable skills from Army life into football?

“The main one for me is just that leadership quality that gets drilled into us constantly,” Emmerson said.

“Being able to lead not only people who you know but people you don’t, it’s that skill of being able to have an effect on people.

“This is my 23rd season as an adult so I’ve got vast experience and hopefully that can rub off as a positive to the younger (players).

“I wouldn’t be in the job if I wasn’t fit, so I need that and it’s kept me in the game for as long as it has.

“I can’t rely on being 19-years-old and playing games on the bounce. I’ve got to recover, rehab myself a lot more now that I used to.

“At Hungerford we learned how to knit together as a group on the budget we had. These are only positive things I can bring to Dorchester.”

Keith Emmerson has played more than 100 times for the British Army Picture: KEITH EMMERSON

Unsurprisingly, Army experiences mean Emmerson is adept at organizing his teammates on the pitch.

He said: “I’ve played in every position for Poole, whereas now I’m coming in as a natural defender.

“At Poole, and Farnborough and Taunton, I’d been used as a utility player. I’ve played up front, across the midfield and across the defensive line as well.

“Now I call myself a centre-back – I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing. People say I’m one of the loudest on the pitch.

“That’s because I do organize, I try to lead by example. Organizational skills are definitely one of the things I’ve learned and got better at as I’ve become more experienced.”

With his Armed Forces football career richly decorated, Emmerson believes his feat of 100 caps may never be achieved again.

He said: “It’s always an honor and privilege to represent the British Army, especially the UK Armed Forces as well.

“I’m fortunate to have a job I enjoy that supports the sporting aspect of it.

“I think I’ve played closer to 150 games. I’ve been fortunate to be able to do that alongside work.

“Other people have either not had that opportunity or not been able to get released from work due to operational commitments.

“To be able to have the career I’ve had and represent the Army that many times, no matter how many times I put that shirt on I still have that honor and pride to wear it.

“I was having a chat with someone and we very much doubt someone will beat that record now because we don’t have as many fixtures as we used to.

“I’ve been in the military for 18 years and we used to play ten games a season, maybe more.

“Now, the lads are lucky to play three or four. On that average, they would have to play pretty much a full compliment of fixtures for 20-plus years to even get close to the caps I have.

“To have that many appearances, whether it’s one or 101, it’s still immense pride and something I hold dear to my heart.”

It’s clear that both serving his country, representing UKAF on the pitch and his club career are all close to Emmerson’s heart.

He will have a chance to show those passions on the pitch next week when the Kentish Cup is contested.

Emmerson has eleven more been selected for the competition, which celebrates its centenary this year.

The UK, French and Dutch Armed Forces all face each other in the triangular tournament, with the UK’s first game against their Netherlands counterparts on Monday, June 20 at Havant & Waterlooville (7pm).

The Netherlands play France two days later and the UK’s second game comes against France on June 24.

It turns out that you can combine a footballing and Army career, after all.

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