Bringing on Young Fans

January 1, 2000

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Good afternoon to everyone and a warm welcome to all Shakers fans from the football hot bed of Lancashire. Gigg Lane is located pretty well in the middle of a whole host of football and premier league clubs in the North West and West Yorkshire. Away trips can be much closer to home for them than Bristol so let’s hope they enjoy their excursion to the West Country today.

Many of our supporters made the long trip to Bury in November and inspired us to a very good victory on the day. Our fans really got behind us in the second half and showed what can be done to lift a team to give that little bit extra. The Shakers were going very well at the time, with a good number of successive victories behind them in the league. A dip in form since has seen them holding just above the relegation spots and needing points. Both sets of fans can look forward to an engaging encounter here at the Mem this afternoon.

Supporters are what football clubs need most of all. Bringing on young fans these days is as important as bring on young players. It is so easy for our next generation to tag on to the successes of a premier league club instead of following the tradition of their local league club. Fans of the Future plays its part as does a very committed and vibrant community department. On the morning of the Wrexham game our Community Team worked with a group of youngsters from Ashley Down. The session was a Saturday Team Club activity and took place firstly at the Civil Service Ground before proceeding to the stadium for further activities and tours. I joined up with the group for the entire duration 9.30-1.30. The group organiser, Sonia Furzland, had brought no less than 80 children in her Saturday Team and was supported by 40 or so parents.

The team was split into a number of age groups from the age range of 7 to 11 years. The warm up and skills sessions were very well managed. The community coaches displayed total command and respect whilst delivering a very enjoyable and entertaining programme. The coaches were highly successful in including all the children irrespective of individual athletic ability and football skills. Particular references were made to healthy living and diet. Good parenting was a major factor in the children’s behaviour and in there ability to gain so much from the event; one more excellent example of the good work that our football club is doing in the community. A very enjoyable morning was had by all, including me I have to say. Very many thanks to Peter Aitken and his staff.

Talking of the young and the not so young for that matter, I make no apologies for signally up an early appeal concerning our final home match of this season against Swindon Town. The pitch invasion against Macclesfield in the corresponding fixture last season was not good. Neither was the intrusion following our triumph against another club a few weeks ago, although on that occasion it may have been down to more magic than malice. The message is a simple one. Don’t invade the pitch after the final whistle. Match stewards are there to ensure health and safety not to stop people piling on to the pitch. The responsibility for that is with individuals to keep their discipline and not to spoil it for the overwhelming majority.

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