Jack Spring: The rising star in film directing with ‘All Town Aren’t We’ documentary

As a Grimsby Town fan at heart, Jack Spring’s career as a film director continues to grow through the ‘All Town Aren’t We’ documentary.

Born in London, Spring made his debut at the age of 19, with comedy film ‘Destination: Dewsbury’.

In 2021, he directed ‘Three Day Millionaire’ as his second feature film – starring Colm Meaney which drew critical acclaim and reached a #5 rating on Netflix in the UK.

Speaking to Soccerscene after the completion of ‘All Town Aren’t We’, Spring discusses his film directing journey to date, the origins of the documentary, key components of the editing process and his personal connection to Grimsby Town.

What led you into a directing career?

Jack Spring: My Dad and I made these little stop-motion animations such as David and Goliath and play figures that went on Windows Movie Maker, and we used the very early digital stills cameras.

When I was about 12 or 13, my friend at school got a Mac which had a digital video camera, and every weekend we’d make these small little clips.

From the age of 13, it really snowballed from there and I’m lucky that I knew what I wanted to do early on.

The harder part was learning all about the financial side and raising money in the notoriously unglamorous aspects that were involved.

I did go to university, but I found I was teaching myself more outside of that by making short films every weekend and I ended up making around 100 of those.

I made the decision to drop out of university because I needed to raise money, given investors were not keen on me as I was only 18 – it prompted me to figure out what to do next.

There was a startup company that I created, which taught me a whole lot about business – such as how to budget, how to schedule and to manage teams.

Off the back of that I went to those investors to show what I could do at a younger age, and I believe it helps to start young to get your foot in the door earlier.

Tell us about how the All Town Aren’t We documentary originated and what it was like creating it?

Jack Spring: All Town Aren’t We was the first series we’ve done; we did a couple pilots beforehand.

It was quite intimidating because we decided to do the documentary project after the story happened, literally walking down the steps after the final.

I’m a big Grimsby fan and my production company owns the Club, so it made sense to put the two together.

When it came to interviewing footballers, in top-flight competitions like the English Premier League or A-League in Australia you see the players as very media-trained and they don’t give the interviewer much.

However, at Grimsby Town they were brilliant, I was far more nervous interviewing my heroes in Grimsby than any other typical player.

Everyone was great in telling emotional stories and you see the players and staff more as actors rather than footballers with usual responses.

There were so many stories to be told and some of them didn’t even make the final cut. For example, parents that were disabled and the lengths that it took to get the game, or Harry Clifton – a homegrown player and cult hero – having to cope with his grandad dying just after getting relegated.

It’s a credit to the players for opening up as I’m sure it wasn’t easy.

How was the editing process and making those tough decisions on what to include or exclude?

Jack Spring: I deliberately worked with an editor who wasn’t a Grimsby fan supporter.

The reason behind that was he would work out which storylines only Grimsby Town fans would care about, and what general sports fans would pay attention to.

It was really helpful because the storylines that I thought would be worth it didn’t make the final cut as the editor did not think it was important enough.

If I didn’t have that, there would be far too many Grimsby Town-specific narratives like players getting dropped which the general person wouldn’t be drawn into.

What would you say to those who haven’t seen the documentary?

Jack Spring: The 12-month journey is genuinely the wildest sporting story to exist.

Grimsby Town has spent the last 20 years flirting between League 2 and non-league football, where the Club found itself in non-league for just the second time in its history.

There’s a massive difference in terms of the clubs that play there – as people are made redundant, there’s a lot less money involved and it genuinely affects an awful lot of people in the town.

Two local business owners bought the club as they were relegated, who are the best thing to have ever happened to Grimsby Town.

The documentary is the next 12 months since that change, which is bonkers.

Without giving away the ending, Grimsby Town’s whole season became very dramatic to see if they can even make the playoffs based on previous form.

The final episodes included possibly the best football game ever played against Wrexham AFC in a semi-final.

It’s one of the best sporting stories because it’s essentially a working-class town which used to have the world’s largest fishing port, but the industry died.

For a town that has been on a negative trajectory for a long time, to see them rise against the odds is something that will appeal to all sports lovers.

It’s highly emotional, highly gripping and an unbelievable sporting story that I was fortunate enough to capture.

All Town Aren’t We is now streaming exclusively on DocPlay in Australia and New Zealand.

Liam Watson is the Co-Founder & Publisher of Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy, industry matters and technology.

Peter Parthimos talks origins of Futsal Oz and its current status

Futsal in Australia is a sport that despite its chaotic, fast-paced and unmissable nature, tends to get misaligned within the plethora of sport the nation enjoy upon a commercial scale.

Participation is immense across multiple sporting organisations who operate indoor futsal competitions. Futsal Oz in particular, is the pinnacle of the latter.

Regarded by many as the premier futsal competition across the country, talent from futsal-rich nations across the globe now reside within clubs participating in both of the men’s and women’s competitions respectively.

Futsal icon Falcão, Brazilian and former Bayern Munich winger Douglas Costa, “The Doctor” Andre Caro – are just some of the many icons within the sport in whom have taken to a futsal court founded by Parthimos. With newly-founded talent emerging, the sport is on the precipice of unimaginable heights.

Peter Parthimos embodies futsal through his instinctive and optimistic nature. The Futsal Oz founder has spearheaded the growth of the indoor variation of football to unparalleled heights in Melbourne.

His ambitions surrounding the sport are on the verge of coming to fruition. But before we showcase where exactly futsal within Australia may be steering, Peter took us on a comprehensive journey immersed in the origin of Futsal Oz, its current status, and development he has overseen throughout his tenure as a founder.

What is the origin story of Futsal Oz?

Peter Parthimos: In 2003, at the age of 29 – after a five-year hiatus from both outdoor and indoor football – I was invited by my friend Evan Robotis to join a social futsal team. Despite initial reservations about the rock-hard size three ball I remembered, I quickly fell in love with the game, intrigued by its potential and the joy it brought me.

After a match, my curiosity about the league’s structure led to disappointment upon discovering the lack of professional organisation and support. This realisation sparked an idea: We approached current indoor providers and the governing body to develop the sport. Unfortunately, none shared my enthusiasm. Consequently, in 2004, we registered the business name Futsal Oz.

Our first steps included securing a venue, and by chance, my old high school in Brunswick High School had a suitable gymnasium with a full-size basketball court.

After almost two years of negotiations with the relevant standing committee, we established our first Social and Junior Leagues in 2006, and in 2007, we launched the V-League Premiership, now known as Series Futsal Victoria.

Our team’s dedication and hard work paid off. In 2008, we opened the purpose-built Brunswick Futsal Stadium on Victoria Street, allowing us to run futsal leagues seven days a week and developed the culture we know today.

In 2013, we opened a second futsal stadium in Mt. Evelyn, and in 2014, we opened a third stadium in Thomastown.

At this stage, Futsal Oz and Series Futsal had grown into a thriving community, driven by the vision to elevate futsal to a professional level and share its joy and potential with others.

How did Futsal Oz reach its current distinguished current day status?

Peter Parthimos: Futsal Oz’s journey to where we are today has been marked by dedication, innovation, and a relentless pursuit of excellence. Here’s a look at how we got here and where we stand today for those unfamiliar with Series Futsal and Futsal Oz.

In 2007, the V-League Premiership, now known as Series Futsal, was established. The opening of the purpose-built Brunswick Futsal Stadium in 2008 marked a significant milestone, enabling us to host leagues seven days a week.

These facilities provided top-notch venues for players, fostering a vibrant futsal community and enhancing the overall experience.

Series Futsal has grown into a premier futsal competition, attracting top talent and offering a highly competitive platform for players all over Australia.

Futsal Oz has introduced various initiatives, including professional coaching, youth development programs, and extensive media coverage, further popularising the sport.

In 2015, we started developing our own software sports management system called WeFroth. This enables players, managers, parents, and fans to see all tables, fixtures, and team and player statistics live – goal for goal.

WeFroth is a complete sports management system that can run any sport – including features such as live scoreboard, point of sale, inventory control, and rostering.

Upcoming features include messaging services, online shopping, and a dynamic website designed for user friendliness.

This project is very exciting and offers new franchises the opportunity to set up their very own Futsal Oz franchise via subscription. This is the future of sports management, and we are at the forefront of this innovation.

Futsal Oz and Series Futsal are at the forefront of the futsal scene in Australia.

We operate multiple futsal stadiums, including those in Brunswick and Thomastown, each equipped with high-quality courts and amenities.

Comprehensive leagues cater to players of all ages and skill levels, from grassroots to elite competitions.

This includes Social Leagues, Junior Leagues, and the prestigious Series Futsal. We are committed to nurturing young talent through our youth development programs, offering quality leagues, coaching, and structured training sessions.

Futsal Oz is a hub for the futsal community, providing a platform for players to connect, compete, and grow. We host regular tournaments, events, and social activities to foster a sense of community.

We offer extensive media coverage of our games and events, including live streaming and commentary, ensuring that futsal reaches a wider audience.

Our vision is to continue elevating futsal to new heights, with innovation of our software with plans for further expansion, franchising and collaboration with governing bodies, creating pathways to FIFA-hosted competitions and leagues, enhancing player development programs, improving refereeing and ongoing community engagement.

Did Futsal Oz experience setbacks throughout the pandemic?

Peter Parthimos: Despite being heavily impacted during the COVID-19 period, Futsal Oz had to realign its vision and direction, leading to further develop software that can include new private ownership and making available the dream for enthusiast just like myself to run and operate their very own Futsal Oz via a software subscription which can be done from any part of the world.

We have done all the development from start to finish, which will allow a smooth operation for anyone who wants a career as a Futsal Oz owner.

Futsal Oz and Series Futsal have evolved and become synonymous with quality, passion, and growth in the futsal world. We remain dedicated to advancing the sport for all who love and play it, both as a junior grassroots sport and for social league enthusiasts.

What is an aspect of the business you are most proud of?

Peter Parthimos: I am grateful to be able to discover and develop talented people on and off the court, seeing players come in as a junior and developing into leaders, some working alongside me and other leading their clubs.

I am also grateful of the amazing community we have discovered over the last 20 years, we have seen couples get together, we have seen their children develop and without doubt we have seen unbelievable respect for all cultures from all walks of life.

I speak on behalf of my wife, Effie, that we are both very grateful that we’ve had the opportunity to raise our own children, Evangelia, Elias and Nicholas in the Futsal Oz environment and business whilst pursuing my dreams and goals.

As difficult as this may have been at times, I always had my family close by. Overall, I am extremely proud of the Futsal Oz family we have all discovered.

George Katsakis: Back in his element

George Katsakis’ 38-year coaching resume places him as one of NPL Victoria’s all-time greats.

From his playing career into the early stages of his coaching where he worked up the ranks at many clubs, there was always a passion for coaching at the highest level.

Of course, it’s his 18 years at Heidelberg United that cemented his legacy as one of the greats, where he won the 2017 NPL Victoria Men’s Coach of the Year award and spearheaded Heidelberg United’s golden era.

The golden era involved winning a coveted NPL Australian championship, a National Premier League title, a Charity Shield, a Dockerty Cup triumph in 2017 and securing a treble of NPL Victoria Premierships in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

In 2015, he led Heidelberg United to the FFA Cup Quarter Finals stage after a fairy tale run and managed to reach that same point two more times in 2017 and 2018. One of the most special cup moments for the Bergers was the 2017 FFA Cup run and the famous 1-0 win against Perth Glory at Olympic Village in the Round of 32.

In an interview with Soccerscene, Katsakis discusses his fantastic start at Bentleigh Greens, his philosophy on player development, the future of coaching in Australia and the attributes he had to become such a successful coach.

You joined Bentleigh Greens in March – it was a shaky start, but you have settled the ship. What brought you back to coaching through Bentleigh Greens?

Katsakis: This is my 38th year in coaching at all levels so first and foremost, I was missing it. I know it was only a short break, but I suppose what really inspired me to get back into it was the chain of events and the way I was released from Heidelberg that really made me think about where I am in football and where I need to be.

Obviously, I’m always aspiring to be at the top level but with Bentleigh Greens, I know the history of the club, I know their achievements over the last decade if not more and had some great teams, some great coaches.

After their phone call, they were convincing to me that they were looking to get promoted and back to the top flight, and I thought it was a no brainer. It inspired me to take a team that was struggling and hopefully steer the ship to a promotion or to a lot of improvement.

At the moment all we can say is that we’ve improved dramatically. Myself, the experience has come in and settled things that were not previously addressed earlier on and now obviously the results are flowing. It’s been a great transition for me.

In terms of player development, how do you go about that as a head coach? 

Katsakis: I think this is a great topic at the moment in Australian football. A lot of my emphasis at Heidelberg over the last 18 or so seasons was to try and introduce a pathway to players through the senior team but also paying a lot of attention to our u18 and u23 programs.

It was important to blend what I could foresee being the future of the club with the senior players, try and bring them in through that avenue and make sure they’re steered one by myself and my assistants and two and very importantly, by the senior players.

One of the fundamentals of kids developing is their environment and the people around them. If you have got the right group, as I did at Heidelberg for many years, there will be success.

I had a group who bought into our culture and accepted the fact that young kids were going to come through and help them through that development. There’s quite a few that I can possibly name that have taken the next level and next step.

Looking at the current coaching ecosystem, do you see players transitioning well into coaching and do you see coaching improving in the future?

Katsakis: It’s exciting because I now know of maybe 10 or more young aspiring coaches that are coming through. A classic example is certainly Andrew Cartanos, but I also have to mention the likes of Nick Marinos who’s taken the reigns at Port Melbourne, Luke Byles who’s become my assistant, Steven Pace is at Eltham Redbacks. So there’s quite a few coming through.

It’s great because they’re just added value, away from their coaching they can actually relive their football through those youngsters, and it makes them understand what it takes to make it at the top level.

After all the success at Heidelberg United, for any aspiring coaches, what were the attributes you had that made you so successful as a coach?

Katsakis: When I first got into coaching a very experienced coach from England said a couple of things to me that I took on board. The most important thing for me is to be humble and to understand that at any point in your coaching career, whether you’re a 20, 40 or 70 year old, you’ve got to be able to accept the fact that you’re going to learn every day.

Every day there is something new that you’re challenged with as a coach and accepting the fact that you keep learning until the day you retire, I think is very important.

We all learn from each other and generally in life as well as in football, we’re not born to know it all. Accepting that your philosophy, or someone else’s philosophy, or their techniques, or the way they coach, or their persona, whatever they bring to the table. If you can take a little bit from everyone’s leaf and add it to your booklet, it’s probably the most important part of coaching.

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