If you’re from Shropshire and you’ve played football at junior or senior level then you’ve probably heard of Matt Burton.
The majority of those who have heard of him have also probably been coached by him at some stage.
The current Ellesmere Rangers manager has been synonymous with giving youngsters a chance to play the game and learn new skills for almost 20 years.
His business, Sportsjam, which he ran until very recently, coached thousands of youngsters across the region, some going on to play at a very good level.
That was coupled with a highly successful senior coaching career, which has seen Burton manage all the top sides across the Shropshire area.
The former Port Vale youngster who once trialed with Grimsby Town before going on to play for Stafford Rangers and Rhyl, has now been tasked with building a successful Ellesmere side in the North West Counties League.
But its the chances he gave to thousands of youngsters in 19 years of running his football coaching business, that is one of Burton’s proudest memories.
“It was going for 19 years and we enjoyed everything we were able to do,” insisted Burton.
“We were able to give thousands of youngsters a chance to just play football really. It was an opportunity for them to either play or get into the sport.
“It was something we were proud of. A lot of them have remained in football. When I was manager of FC Oswestry Town, our physio there was a young lad who used to come to the Sportsjam camps.
“It was great we were able to have an impact on so many people.”
Burton managed to couple his youth coaching and kit business with senior coaching and management.
Over the course of the last 15 to 20 years he has carved out a successful senior management career, and is held in high regards by many players and clubs across Shropshire and Mid Wales.
It began in Mid Wales where Burton served as assistant manager to Roger Preece at Newtown AFC in the 2003/2004 season.
From there he went to Ludlow Town and then on to his first spell at Ellesmere Rangers when he built a side full of the area’s best young talent.
That, coupled with the experience of seasoned striker Danny Barton and top goalkeeper Andy Mulliner meant Rangers were able to re-write all sorts of records and win a raft of trophies.
“The side were had there was fantastic with the likes of Andy Mulliner, then top youngsters like Andy Ford and Nathan Leonard,” explained Burton.
“We had players like Eddie Hope, it was a top class side full of great talent and characters, and we had a great time.”
From there, Burton went into Wales and took over at Cymru Alliance side Guilsfield, a village team well known for punching above its weight.
But Burton left to take a job at the FA, a decision which the former Vale youngster looks back on with a bit of regret.
“We finished third and fourth in the league there and the players did well,” added Burton.
“It is a great club Guilsfield, not just on the pitch but off it. They’ve got great people behind the scenes.
“I took a job within the FA that didn’t work out, and I didn’t really want to leave Guilsfield because we had something good going there.”
Then another hugely successful spell came with Shrewsbury based side Haughmond, who had lifted themselves out of Shropshire football into the West Midlands Leagues.
Again, Burton assembled a top side and earned promotions and won trophies.
Then, arguably one his finest moments in management came courtesy of one famous old trophy.
“The FA Cup run we had was something else, it really was,” recalled Burton.
“We beat Matlock Town who were a few divisions above us and then we drew non-league Boston United away.
“They were a Football League side a few years before and we managed to get a result against them and bring it back to our place.
“Up there was great with the amount of supporters, and then it was a great occasion back at Shrewsbury in front of so many fans.
“It was great, we had a great bunch of lads who achieved so much there.”
After a few years with Haughmond Burton swapped the Shrewsbury based club for the now defunct FC Oswestry Town.
The Park Hall based side had ambitions of climbing the pyramid in the North West Counties League.
“Oswestry was a funny one because there was an opportunity to grow the club, and maybe for me the timing wasn’t right,” added Burton.
“They had highly supportive people there and had the help of TNS with a few players.
“There were again great people there, but that one didn’t work out.”
Burton was far from a typical journeyman manager, as he achieved success at almost every club he managed.
After Oswestry he rocked up at Whitchurch Alport, a club with a big backing, a big fan base and bags of ambition.
“The fans there really get behind the side and I had never really experienced that in the numbers that they get,” added Burton.
“Looking back on it six or nine months later, certain things just didn’t go for me and that is football sometimes.
“Perhaps I could have turned things around, but as I say sometimes these things happen, but they do things the right way there and it is a great club.”
Now the well travelled manager who has enjoyed a lot of success in the dugout is back at Ellesmere.
He also couples that with coaching sides within the junior section at Shrewsbury based club Saha.
He has already put his stamp on the North Shropshire side despite the rocky season that has come from the pandemic.
But he is in it at Rangers for the long haul and hopes to have as much success there as he has had elsewhere.
“I’d like to stay here a while and build something,” added Burton.
“Like other clubs there are great people involved with this club, and hopefully we can stay for a while, put a good side together and really build something.”
Photos – Salop Sports Photography