This afternoon we welcome the supporters, officials and playing staff of Morecambe to the Abbey Stadium. We also welcome our guests who are attending via the Cambridge United Community Trust. The trust has been doing some fantastic work locally especially over the past two years since Covid was first identified. Football clubs and Trusts are in a unique position to encourage and make changes in areas that affect everyday lives. They can also through education influence the behaviours that make society better.
Events have gone full circle during the past years. Many clubs were created via Working Men’s Clubs, church organisations or prominent industries. As clubs developed through the 19th century, they provided a local identity during a period of expansion which resulted from people migration and industrial revolution. Clubs were seen as a distraction from the toil and under-developed living and working conditions which many people had to tolerate. In some cases, it was to provide recreation as an alternative to the drinking culture of the time. The 3pm Saturday Kick Off was set as many factories closed at mid-day and this allowed workers the opportunity to take travel and take part in matches
In 1986 a pilot scheme, ‘Football in the Community’ (FitC) was created to counter the social tension and issues of the time. It was given the following aims.
· provide employment and training for unemployed people
· promote close links between professional football clubs and the community
· involve minority ethnic groups in social and recreational activities
· attempt to prevent acts of hooliganism and vandalism
· maximise the use of the facilities of the football clubs
However, many clubs would see it as a way of identifying future players via the summer schools and other activities. During the late 1990’s Research was conducted on behalf of the Football Foundation leading to a number of recommendations including the development of independent community organisations and also a more holistic approach to community development and engagement. This had two consequences. The first was pointed out in a report commissioned by Supporters Direct and highlighted the need for separation between ‘the football club’ and its ‘community department’. It also highlighted a second. At the time the community department, focused more on income generation in order to survive than the needs of its community. Changes would take place to ensure that the football club would operate as a business, while the community department would be a corporate social responsibility arm.
I remember going to Supporter Direct meetings in the 2000’s and hearing about schemes being run by other clubs like Notts County. The one that impressed me most at the time was Club is the Hub being run by Chesterfield. It was based on
Crime Reduction, Sport, Neighbourhood Pride, Education, Business and Health. Its success would be based against local figures and social accounting.
Through Supporters Direct, Supporter Trusts were able to ensure real changes were made. The Cambridge United Community Trust has grown and developed like many others have done from the early days of the Football in the Community scheme. Now, AFC Wimbledon supporters through the Dons Local Action Group, https://donslocalaction.org/ are taking community to the next level.
Supporters Direct merged with the FSF in 2018 to become the FSA. However, the FSA are still ensuring the importance of one community in the Fans Led Review. When we spoke about the importance of community and being a community-based club less than 15 years ago it was a concept that many couldn’t see the point of. Nowadays, it is embraced and it’s importance welcomed
The last two away matches of the season Wigan and Sunderland are now on line. Go to the Away Travel Shop tab on www.cambridgefansunited.org or ring 07591 111251 email firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, I am saddened to finish by having to report the recent death of Mark Stuart-Wood. Mark was one of CFU’s main contributors during the mid-late 2000’s and someone I could always bounce ideas off. Our thoughts are with his family at this time. I for one will miss his contributions and suggestions. Rest in Peace
You can contact me via email@example.com or follow what is happening via the www.facebook.com/CambridgeUnitedFootballClub facebook site www.cambridgefansunited.org website or via twitter SLO@CambridgeUTD Be Loud, Be Proud and Be United. Please get behind the team on the pitch. Your positive support is appreciated by all the players and also the management team.