Supporters Club Chairman Report
November 28, 2005
This is the first Chairman’s report to be written with our new constitution in operation and consequently it comes to you a little later than was the case previously. The Annual Meeting will now always be held in November to allow you the opportunity to view the accounts and committee reports prior to the meeting and they will be available on the our website (www.bristolroverssc.co.uk) at least 14 days before the date of the meeting or by request from our two retail outlets.
I should stress that this report covers the period from July 2004 – June 2005 (the end of our financial year) and I must admit that last season seems somewhat distant in the light of some of the events of the last couple of months with the departure of Ian Atkins as team manager. Nevertheless the start of 2004-05 began at Mansfield with great optimism as Rovers outplayed their opponents with a fine display of attacking football in which Junior Agogo and Ali Gibb were particularly dominant and ran out winners by two goals to nil.
Whilst Rovers made steady progress in the LDV competition, there were early exits in the Coca Cola and FA Cup’s. With a place at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium beckoning in the LDV competition Rovers took on Southend Utd in the Area Final, but in the first leg Ian Atkins found himself with a squad limited by injuries and opted for a cautious approach. The sight of Junior Agogo playing on his own up front was a decision that many supporters found hard to understand in a game that demanded (so it seemed) an attacking attitude. As Rovers slipped a goal behind Richard Walker entered the fray but despite him scoring the team were beaten by a very strong looking Shrimpers outfit. The return at Roots Hall finished in a spirited draw, but the supporters were left to reflect on what might have been, had the team played at a similar tempo in the home leg. With a mid-table finish Ian Atkins had clearly arrested the slide of the past four seasons, but many supporters were dissatisfied with the style of play adopted by the manager despite the fact that team was beaten just once at home in the league.
Our major responsibility continues to be the running of our two retail outlets, my thanks are due (in no particular order) to Paul Seaton, Bernie Clothier, Clare McDonagh, Kay Monks and Teresa Kolman who comprise our paid staff for their efforts this year in supporting Jane Browne as she has got to grips with managing Pirate Leisure and 199 Two Mile Hill. A special word of thanks also to volunteers Alison Gibson and Anne and Zoe Paramore for the many unpaid hours they have worked at both shops on non-match days.
In October last year the Football Club asked us to become involved in the opening of a joint venture with Bristol City and Bristol Rugby in establishing a new retail outlet called “Bristol Sport” in the Broadmead shopping area. All this happened at very short notice and our resources were fully stretched in stocking three outlets (as well as our match day sales point) in the run up to Christmas and beyond. The return has not been as substantial as we would have wished and we have learned some lessons in terms of what we stock at the outlet. At the time of writing the committee was still considering whether or not it would continue to be part of this venture.
Throughout last season the Football Club found itself under severe financial pressure and in December last year we were approached about the possibility of the Supporters Club investing £100,000 in a company that was being formed to manage the property owned by the Football Club. This meant taking out a mortgage on 199 Two Mile Hill Road, the Committee entered into negotiations with the Football Club over a number of weeks as to the exact terms under which the money would be advanced, but in the end the need has passed. What we attempted to do at all times was to try to preserve the independence and integrity of the Supporters Club whilst trying to do everything to be of assistance to the Football Club that we were formed to serve.
This has put the long term future of 199 under the microscope and against the backdrop of increased internet and telephone business, the Committee’s view is that once we can secure a long term, purpose built shop at the Memorial Stadium, the need to have a shop run purely by ourselves away from the Stadium will have passed. Any such decision to close 199 will however be put to the membership, but we hope to be able to be in a position to outline our future plans at the AGM.
Our relationship with the Football Club has continued to develop with our two representatives Jane Browne and Kim Stuckey representing your interests in the boardroom. Jane has now resigned her post, as director, and I would like to thank her for her efforts over the last 18 months. No-one should underestimate the level of commitment required to carry out this demanding role, Jane did everything she could to fulfil it and should be very proud of the fact that she was the first person elected as a full director. I know that Kim benefited greatly from her experience of Supporters Club matters, allowing him to settle more speedily into his role than would have been the case. Kim has entered the fray with a fresh perspective and it is remarkable to think that he came from almost no-where to have a real impact not just on the Supporters Club, but the Football Club as well and long may that continue.
The Share Scheme has maintained its steady progress with well over £400,000 paid into the football club at the time of writing. February saw the resignation of Roger Cooper as Share Scheme chairman, my sincere thanks to him for his outstanding efforts during and after its launch. Roger was instrumental in commissioning the “Where’s The Money Gone?” report which looked into the finances of the Football Club and it is fitting to acknowledge the efforts of Stuart Hicks, Jamie Paddon, Nigel Roberts and Steve Western in completing the project. David Brain has taken over the reigns but it has become apparent that he needs the assistance of a dedicated committee and we are coming forward with proposals to establish a Share Scheme Business committee within the constitution at the AGM. Much thought has been put into re-energising the Share Scheme, and David and his committee will be coming forward with some proposals in the coming weeks. I would also like to thank Keith Brookman for his “Bid On The Side” column in “The Pirate”, which has raised hundreds of pounds for the Share Scheme.
Our new Weston-Super-Mare branch was established during last season and now boasts a membership in excess of forty members, my thanks to Wilf Aldous, Adrian Parker, Neil Hoddinott, Merrick Colcannon and Rob Harris in creating a very firm foundation for the branch to thrive. It reached the landmark of its first AGM IN October which was extremely well attended and I have no doubt that the branch will continue to grow.
The 50/50 draw continued its remarkable progress and we were given the opportunity to sell in the Mead Civil Engineering Suite for the first time last season, which did much to increase the average pay out. The fund stood in excess of £76,000 at the end of 2004/05, my thanks to the band of sellers who turn up in all weathers and to the super efficient team who make sure the draw is ready before half time at each home match, its quite a feat I can tell you! Thanks also to those who sell programmes for us (there are those that do both), you should be aware of the thousands of pounds they save the Football Club each season by given their services for free.
The new Supporters Club constitution has now been implemented, with four new business committees established. Each chair will be producing a report of their Committee’s activities and I am grateful to all of them for taking on these new responsibilities. I would also like to thank all those who have come forward to help us in the last twelve months by joining one of the business committees. It was pleasing in particular that Ron Cocks and Ken Masters who stood in the elections for the Supporters Club directorships in 2004 were true to their word and joined the Social and Commercial Committee’s respectively.
The period since last year’s annual meeting has not been without its difficulties, bedding in the new constitution has taken longer than I would have liked and I had hoped that the Executive Committee meetings would be shorter than before. I thank all Executive Committee members for their patience and help in the last twelve months. I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of Phil Draper (Match day Committee Chair) Sandra Jaques (Commercial Committee Chair) and Ron Ballinger who have recently stepped down from the Executive Committee. Phil will continue with his responsibility in looking after the Supporters Club programme service and at the time of writing he was working on a new website for this particular activity which will have a link from our main website. Sandra has indicated that she will remain available to help us on match days and she has agreed to help us in other ways on an ad-hoc basis. All three will be sorely missed but I hope they will put themselves forward again some time in the future. I know that both Phil and Sandra felt that they could not devote sufficient time to lead their respective committees because of work commitments and other pressures on them, meaning that they could not progress things in the way they would have wanted. I am grateful for their honesty and it indicates the changing face of the Supporters Club. Robin Schols (Communications Chair) and Dave Hewett (Social Chair) have been in a position where they have been able to work without these pressures over the last 12 months and they have both had a significant impact on the work of their respective committees.
The most precious commodity that any volunteer can give is their time, and in these days of living life at a hundred miles an hour we are very lucky to have so many people who are willing to help us and I thank each and everyone of those who have assisted us in the last twelve months. It is one thing to have ideas and opinions but quite another thing to make the time, have the energy and commitment to implement them.
Sometimes it can be frustrating because there is not enough time to achieve things as quickly as I would have wished but we are taking decisions at the moment that will shape the future of the Supporters Club in years to come. If none of us had to work, life would be very simple and straightforward and things would happen with a whole lot more speed. We are of course always on the look out for new people to help us, the Supporters Club door is wide open to anyone who would like to assist us in whatever way they feel possible.
Finally I would like to thank Jim Chappell and Sue Williams for their help and personal support to me in this my first year as Chairman of the Supporters Club and also to those at the Football Club with whom I have come in to contact and in particular Ian Holtby who always goes out of his way to help me no matter how obscure my request!
Supporters Club Chairman