Chesham United FC

I regularly use this weekly update to put out a call for volunteers (admittedly, typically with very little response, but that won’t stop me trying!), however if you had told me twelve month ago that I would be putting out a call for help with a production line for sending out ordered replica shirts I would have said you had gone mad. Yet that is what I am doing.

With term time coming to an end and the preschool that use The Chess Suite not using the premises over the summer, the intention is to turn the small bar area and large store room into a mailing production line of replica shirts. We have the equipment and the packaging materials, and I and one other volunteer are all geared up to go, but we do need help with the packing…and somebody with a bit more computer skills than myself! In the first instance we need somebody to take the order forms that have come through from the website and log them on an Excel spreadsheet that we can then use to check off the orders and print the necessary labels on our label printer for despatch via Royal Mail.

We have over 200 shirts on order, to be despatched all over the world, with many more orders expected over the coming weeks so if you are an organised person, with a bit of spare time on your hands please do contact me directly at chairman@cheshamunited.co.uk. Shirts are still available to order from our exclusive website here.

In other news, it has been announced that ground grading is to become “modernised and digitised” with The Football Association and Premier League teaming up to launch the new Stadium Accreditation Programme which will see ground grading data be collected the Premier League Stadium fund, financed by the Premier League.

The idea is that it will be easier for the powers that be to get a clearer overview of standards and what is required, whilst for clubs it becomes easier to keep track of what is required on an individual basis. This can only be good news, we all know that ground grading has been a contentious issue for many years, stretching all the way back to the early 1990’s when we ourselves missed out on our well-earned place in the Conference (now the National League) due to ground-grading reasons.

The challenge comes when setting rules for completely different types of ground. At The Meadow we are blessed with four sides of terracing that add hugely to the viewing experience, but they are not a requirement. Like many of the assets that add character to our ground they are not part of the grading, albeit they improve the matchday experience. As a result, some of the older grounds face challenges to meet the regulations. For example, at our level there needs to be a covered walkway between the changing rooms and the pitch. At The Meadow that walkway is down steps from the middle of the main stand. Impossible to cover without blocking the view of just about every seat in the stand! Fortunately there are accepted workarounds, like the barriers we have installed and the positioning of stewards on a matchday. In circumstances like that it is good to see commonsense prevail.

The other side of the coin is than as clubs progress up the pyramid the priorities for ground improvements are, understandably, all about box ticking what is needed, leading to up to scratch grounds without many of the additional facilities that supporters like. For example, you might have 300 seats and facilities for segregation in a ground where the average crowd is 200, but there is no terracing. I don’t know what the answer is, but the result is that it does bring out the ground snob in supporters as they visit each other’s grounds and start questioning how that meets requirements, or how do they get away with that. Hopefully the new system will make all of this much clearer and we can all watch games in the best possible surroundings without having clubs breaking the bank to meet the standards. Although, as a final note, it is important, and only fair, that clubs don’t just invest in the playing staff and overlook ground improvements – I tell you, it is not as simple as just picking a manager and watching live football this being a chairman lark!

Talking of the playing staff, they were back in training this week. It is too early to start talking about how they are looking, but we have our first friendly next Saturday (8th) at Stotfold and now that the annual Southern League AGM is out of the way and the registration forms are available, I imagine we will shortly be making announcements about new and retained players. It will be great to have the live games back soon, although the summer has flown by – another two weeks until the league fixtures are announced, which doesn’t leave us much time for making travel arrangements for the early games, but we have got used to that.

There is still plenty going on at the club, there are plans being made for an open training session that will involve the Ladies and the youth section, a great opportunity for everyone to get together ahead of the new season, watch this space and have a great weekend.