Monday, 24 June 2013

The Stones Family

If there was one theme that kept coming back to me after the Friday night fun and games it was this one: thanks to the passion of the fans and their loyalty to the Black and Amber, there is a special atmosphere in the club at present; everybody involved in the club - officials, volunteers, supporters, players, more than 5000 followers on both Twitter and Facebook, etc. - are now part of a club which, without being too touchy-feely, is like an extended family: The Stones Family.

We should not underestimate the value of this close-knit club atmosphere that others aspire to: for example Leicester Tigers rugby recently launched a campaign to create the Tigers Family in order to promote the same values. It's all about not just supporting the team but doing it the right way: supporting each other. I think we are a step ahead of the game and we should all feel proud of this. It means we can go out of our way to make the club a welcoming place to new fans and encourage those who feel that this sort of family-friendly atmosphere is one they want to be part of. 

So let's make this season another remarkable one. The atmosphere in the Gallagher should be passionate but respectful at all times, of everybody - ladies, kids, match officials, even when they make awful mistakes, and away supporters, even when they're out to wind us up. 

A great opportunity for this will be in Calais. We will be 200 ambassadors for the club to make the trip so let's enjoy it to the full and try and ensure that the home club is left with a desire to see us go back for a rematch and to strengthen ties between our two clubs.

Turning back to last Friday I was delighted to see all the fans and also our main business partners get a big kick (unintended pun) out of the occasion. I also want to thank again all those friends who make this sort of event possible including amongst others Mike Cogger and the burger boys, the team kit-men and the Andy the physio (who was kept busy I can tell you...).

We had intended to do a Q and A session in the Spitfire after the game but when Terry and I saw that everybody was having a lively time already we decided to drop the idea. We will always be available to talk frankly and openly about the club and as far as I know we have no secrets! There is a lot of talk about supporter-owned clubs at present and how it's a good model for non-league; well whether that's true or not depends on the circumstances but in any event Maidstone United is supporter-owned I can assure you!

In the next few weeks lots is happening: the club dinner on 4th July, works progressing around the ground, the 3G pressure on the Football Conference growing as Sutton United continue to press for permission to use 3G in 2014, Jay's squad taking shape and the pre-season including a cracking match on July 13th versus Charlton, which will mark 12 months since the Gallagher Stadium opened.

Finally we have launched our membership scheme, the Fan Club, which is a fund-raising, loyalty scheme as operated by many other clubs. After one fantastic season we still need to raise revenues and your support of this will be much appreciated. It will also, amongst other things, give you priority when that crunch all-ticket match happens at some stage this is certainly not designed to interfere with the Independent Supporters Club, which can certainly merit being a coordinated voice for supporters' ideas and suggestions for the club. 

That's all for now; have to keep resting my sore old calf muscle and prepare for the club dinner.

Oliver Ash