After two narrow defeats on the road it is good to be back at The Meadow tomorrow (Saturday) where we have put in some excellent performances recently. Last weekend at Swindon Supermarine we were just unable to find the level of performance needed to win the game, whilst on Tuesday night at Farnborough we came up against a goalkeeper in incredible form, any other day we might have won that match by three or four goals. Those results do make the push for the play-offs more of a challenge, but we will keep fighting, hopefully starting with a good result and performance tomorrow – your vocal support can help us to achieve that.
Earlier this week we launched our latest fundraising appeal for vastly improving the floodlights to save on energy bills and improve the viewing for spectators at evening matches, plus of course the improved lighting will give us no reason not to return back to the claret and blue shirts. I have been approached by a couple of people who have questioned whether linking the return to claret and blue with a fundraising appeal could be misconceived as asking supporters to stump up money and then we will change the shirts. That really is not the case.
The floodlights will be a big improvement for many reasons. We have regular checks on our lights and the most recent survey showed that down all the sides of the pitch, including goal lines and within 6 metres of the centre line, the lumen value is now under 130, when two years ago it was 146 which is under the recommended 150 minimum criteria for dark colours. Lights in the other areas of the pitch are fine so we have passed the floodlight test as required by the league and the FA.
Our kit at the time was mainly claret all over with just a hint of sky blue and was noted to beautifully blend in with the crowd. This was brought to our attention two years ago by a company that attended an evening match that was involved with ground reviews and design, and they also install floodlights for all levels of football grounds. The readings have now deteriorated to these new levels even after having the internals cleaned two years ago and bulbs replaced at great cost. The original floodlights were installed in 2001 and have fallen a long way behind modern designs, technology and energy efficiency.
The opportunity has arisen to obtain grants for replacing the lights and we are aware that, like with the scoreboard, there are people willing to contribute towards the project. Obviously, nobody is obliged to contribute, but we appreciate every contribution made and if we are successful we would hope to have the new lights in time for the start of next season. If we do reach our target, and have funds over, we will look at installing additional safety lighting over the Popular Stand side of the ground, but let’s take one step at a time. Donations can be made here.
On the subject of shirts, I am delighted to say that we have secured a shirt sponsor for next season, we are just finalising the details and length of sponsorship with full details to be announced shortly.
There is a huge amount going on at the club at the moment, this coming week we have board and management meetings where there will be a number of updates discussed, hopefully approved and then announced next Friday. Watch this space.
Back to the football and the Academy lost out narrowly to table-topping, free-goalscoring (+35 goal difference so far this season) Rushall Olympic on Thursday, going down 2-1 in a very tight game. A great effort from the youngsters. Meanwhile, last weekend the Ladies fared better than the men with their trip to Swindon, coming away from Swindon Town with a 3-0 win that keeps them up and around the top four in the table.
I can now confirm that our game against Poole Town on 26th March, Non-League Day, will be followed by a full night of entertainment in The Chess Suite with the England match being screened straight after the game, followed by the long-awaited Michael Murray and James Duncan Quiz Night – Block out the whole day in your diary, it should be a fun one!
Unfortunately as a club we are still being hit by COVID with a number of helpers unavailable for the game tomorrow which means I will once again be donning my chef hat for the players and officials whilst our regular cook continues to work extra hours at the hospital, and Tanya behind the bar is also struggling with COVID-19 which has made her feel lousy, fortunately she has been jabbed and boosted so will hopefully be back on her feet before too long. Get well soon Tanya.
Thank you as always for your support,
Peter Brown, Chairman