Helping Dons do their best on the pitch by not worrying about anything off it

Part 3: Lanning does more than just laying the kit out
Ian LanningIan Lanning
Ian Lanning

After 999 games, getting ready for a match is second nature to Ian Lanning. But while the fans might see the man who puts out cones for the warm-up and collects the balls afterwards, there is a lot more intricacy to the role.

Lanning's role not only sees him prepare ahead of games on the pitch, but his job requires a lot of organisation. From setting up the home dressing room 24 hours in advance to arriving at away games five hours ahead of time in case of an 'oh no' moment, Dons' jack-of-all-trades also arranges the hotels the players stay at before road games, takes equipment up and down the country, knows every player's requirements, nuances and superstitions, and even has a key hand in the sort of kit Dons wear.

"We make sure the players don't want for anything," Lanning explained. "We have all their kit laid out before home games the day before, all of their extra requirements, be it socks, extra layers, all there so they're ready to go out and perform without having to worry about anything.

"Especially now too, if I were to get ill before the game, I know everything is done and ready for them.

"When it comes to working with (kit manufacturer) Errea, we go to Italy make sure the embroidery isn't going to cause irritation, that the right fabrics are being used, that the training kit is the best it can be.

"We look at other kits and other sports to make sure we are getting the best things for the players. We use running leggings rather than the football leggings, for example, because we felt they would suit them better.

"And we have to do all of this almost a year in advance to make sure we're at the front of the queue for next season. We can't have a player signing for us while holding up an old shirt – it looks bad from a PR point of view and from a club's perspective. If we're not up to our game, it makes the club look bad.”

While he admits making a faux pas when it came to printing the wrong colour number of the back of David Wheeler's shirt for the trip to Exeter City two years ago, he almost saw a team lining up in his U18s kit when Gillingham came to town back in 2017 - a mistake which cost the Gills kit man his job.

Lanning explained: "They arrived without their kit. They had training shirts with their sponsors on, so we were working on getting them printed. We didn't have a spare kit at the time because the U18s had taken it. I thought in the worst-case scenario, I had my U18s team's kit in my car - it would have been great to see Gillingham run out in a Radstock Town kit!

"But their shirts arrived ten minutes before kick-off, but that's as close as it has come."