When we gathered last September on a piece of wasteland in Whatman Way it was difficult to imagine what we would achieve. I now watch our own Maidstone United academy students as they study in their state of the art classrooms and play each afternoon on the equally state of the art playing surface. Many of the students show genuine footballing talent which will secure the playing future of Maidstone United for many years to come.
The future is also being secured by the numerous children’s and youth teams that use the pitch every week. Many of these children never knowing that the county town of Kent ever had a football team but now having a burning ambition to, one day, represent their home town sometime in the future. These youngsters are the future supporters of Maidstone United and we will nurture their love of football and make them feel part of the club.
The future of Maidstone United must also be secured by an attitude to business that means it will never again suffer the indignities of financial collapse and should never teeter of the brink of extinction again. We must make the club commercially viable and there is a clear link to a successful youth development system and a financially secure football club.
To complete the work of building the stadium was sometimes traumatic and often stressful but the support Oliver, Bill and I have had from the supporters of the club meant that we were never going to be deflected from the ambition of bringing football back to Maidstone after twenty five years. The 'tours' I conducted of the stadium, or as it was then building site, for the fans made me feel very humble with genuine supporters telling me about their aspirations for the club and their memories. They would often recall their fathers taking them to their first matches which reminded me of my dad who used to take me to the Athletic Ground on the London Road.
The interment of Elvis’s ashes are a poignant reminder of all the supporters who could not make the return of their team to the town.
The backing, financially, physically and emotionally, that we received from the supporters carried Oliver, Bill and I on a wave of enthusiasm and whilst I have said it many times I should repeat that it has been the supporters that have kept this football club in existence. The crowds we have attracted since we opened are proof that the football followers of Maidstone have an appetite for semi-pro football and I hope that they will stay with us because there is a lot more to come. What is also evident to me is the large numbers of families who are coming to the games which also bodes well for the future.
While what happens on the pitch is vital to all of us we are creating a stadium which will function throughout the year and become a hub for sporting and business activities for many years to come. I am acutely aware that a successful first team will generate more income than all the other activities of the business as a whole so we must ensure that we always financially support the team.
To the supporters who stuck by the club - thank you again.
I wonder where we will be this time next year!