It has been another busy month for Blackpool FC in particular and for football in general. After all the anxieties caused by the club’s uncertain start to the season, things are looking a lot brighter as the club heads into a blank weekend. Four wins from five certainly puts a smile on faces, including a thoroughly professional Cup win at Eastbourne Borough at the weekend. More on that in a moment.
First though, a resume of things closer to home. BST Members will have received a newsletter in the last week or so setting out details of a wide range of community activities that are continuing despite the challenges of COVID19.
These are too numerous to cover in full here, but include :
Volunteering : at the last count over 600 hours of work had been offered by supporters in the period since July, at both Bloomfield Road and at the Fylde Coast Memorial Arboretum. Our efforts have been temporarily halted by COVID, but will resume again as soon as circumstances allow. Contact Tony Wilkinson at email@example.com if you want to be part of the team.
Support to BST Veterans : Ray Gregson kindly leads this strand of work for us, and at this time of year it seems doubly important that we should cherish and support our Veterans, whichever walk of life they are now in. Ray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are a veteran who wishes to be part of the group or simply someone who wants to support it. Many people have served in our armed forces to help preserve our way of life, and celebrating what they did for us all is more important now than ever.
Democracy in action : BST remains by far the biggest supporters group with an electoral mandate from its members, and we are pleased to report that, despite COVID, we are continuing to involve our Members as set out in our Constitution. Plans for a delayed Annual General Meeting will be communicated to members shortly ; they will also be informed on how we plan to run our Committee Elections this year. One Committee place (currently held by our Treasurer, Tony Hodgson) is potentially able to be contested. If you are interested in putting yourself forward and want to know more about what is involved, please contact Kevin Boruduwicz at email@example.com for more information.
Fundraising and club support : our work continues apace. We have sponsored CJ Hamilton and Gary Madine and are raising money by auctioning shirts and other items, some signed by the current and last year’s squad. Many of you will know of the sad loss of Paul Stewart’s life Bev recently. BST made a small donation to Paul and Bev’s favoured charity (The Swallows Head and Neck Cancer Trust). We have also started a new initiative to raise money to support local grass-roots football at youth level, a football card which will be run regularly with the winners being able to choose from a variety of prizes, including signed Blackpool shirts.
Meanwhile, Tim Fielding leads our efforts to ensure that the vital work of foodbanks gets our full support with the auctioning of BFC related memorabilia.
We are also supporting the Blackpool Boot Bank, a local initiative which encourages people to donate their children’s football boots so that our local youngsters can swap and share their football boots to meet their need. Look out for regular updates as to how you can help and where you can deliver and collect boots.
Finally, the club is holding a meeting with Supporters groups on 17 November. We are busy collating issues that Members want to be addressed in that meeting and will report back on it is due course.
The Magic of the Cup
Last week we were pleased to see the team win 3-0 at Eastbourne Borough. That our hosts were able to stage this tie, and compete as well as they did, is where the magic really comes in.
At a time when some of our biggest clubs are attempting to restructure the national League for their own financial benefit, Eastbourne vividly demonstrate the gap that already exists between the haves and the have nots.
Not being able to welcome crowds to home games, or open their club bar, has decimated their income. Lottery support has been a godsend, but it came relatively late in the day. In the meantime, the club has been dependent upon players who undertook pre-season training while not under contract and the work of largely unsung volunteers. These volunteers kept the ground in good order, repaired the club minibus when it failed its MOT and generally pulled together to support the club that represents them.
All these people are a credit to themselves. But they should not have to go to such extraordinary lengths to keep the club alive, when some EPL clubs are spending tens of millions of pounds on players and agent fees. Our fight for reform of the game’s finances - and effective regulation of owner conduct - continues, and it remains vital because of clubs like Eastbourne Borough. Without them and hundreds of others, there is no pyramid for the big names to sit on top of. Without them, the FA Cup has little or no allure. We are glad to have met them, but more importantly, through the generosity of our supporters we are glad to have helped them as they fight to get through the current crisis. We wish them well and how wonderful that our own club chose to forego expenses (which would have been considerable) to help support Eastbourne Borough. Such an action is truly what football should be all about and huge credit must go to Simon Sadler and the Board for making such a generous gesture.
As ever therefore, we are very busy. If you want to become a Member and be involved, just £5 secures you a year’s membership. You can arrange this by contacting Francis Charlesworth at firstname.lastname@example.org . He will be happy to talk you through all the other longer-term membership options that are available to you as well. For those of you who are already Members, we thank you for your continuing support - and hope we will all be reunited in person soon.