Welcome to another Friday, now, let me think, is there anything going on at The Meadow that I can talk about?!!
What a week it has been, and what a weekend it is going to be – manic does not even begin to describe what is going on behind the scenes at Chesham United ahead of the biggest weekend we have seen for many years. Over the next 36 hours we will welcome in the region of 5,000 people through our gates, starting with tonight’s Fireworks Extravaganza ahead of tomorrow’s huge FA Cup tie against Maidstone United.
Where do I begin? Well that is easy. First off is a massive thank you to so many people that have been working so hard behind the scenes to prepare for this weekend, there are too many to mention individually, but it is safe to say that the ticket sales, the media attention, the extra advertising, the stewarding, the matchday arrangements, the bar planning, the catering, the administration, the programme production, the marketing, the financial planning, the liaising with councils and other organisations…none of it just happens. It happens because we are blessed with an incredible group of volunteers who are passionate about the club and give uncountable hours of their time to enable us to do what we do, not just on these big occasions, but throughout the season.
Before we get lost in the euphoria of the weekend, I want you all to know how much you are appreciated. Tomorrow we welcome Maidstone United to The Meadow for the First Round Proper of the FA Cup. Many of you will remember the relatively recent FA Cup clashes away at Peterborough United, Bradford City and most memorably Bristol Rovers, but this is the first time we have had a home game beyond the qualifying rounds of the FA Cup since 1994, and it is going to be massive. Ticket sales have been simply mind-blowing. All advanced tickets have SOLD OUT. That is an incredible 2,750 tickets sold in advance. We have held back 250 for those wishing to pay on the gate, but please note that turnstiles open at 11.00am, so please do not turn up at your usual time and expect it to be easy to just pay at the gate like you normally do.
There are some changes to the matchday arrangements being an FA Cup game, including no alcohol on the terraces, although you can still enjoy pre-match drinks in the bar. Full details of match arrangements are on the website here. PLEASE BE AWARE – Do not buy tickets on Facebook or Twitter (X) from people that you do not know. We are already aware that there have been scammers out there looking to sell fake tickets on these platforms, these fake tickets will not get you into the ground. I can’t believe I am having to write this, who would have thought at the start of the season that one of the issues we would have faced I the months ahead would be fake tickets being sold on social media for a sold-out match at The Meadow?!! One additional piece of information, bring a £1 with you because we will be going around selling 50/50 draw raffle tickets. Even better, bring a fiver so that you can buy a copy of our special edition bumper matchday programme for £3 and have £2 to spend on the 50/50 draw!
Many people have been asking why we have a ground capacity of 3,000 when back in 1980 there were 5,500 packed in for the visit of Cambridge United in the Third Round of the FA Cup. The reason is a simple case of health and safety and licensing. If we were to apply for a capacity in excess of 3,000 it would come with additional, costly, requirements including things like additional stewarding for ALL events at The Meadow, no matter how many people turn up. So that would include all league games, county cup matches, Aylesbury games, charity matches, ladies matches…it is something that is simply not practical when it is only once every few years where we could potentially have a crowd in excess of 3,000. If that ever changed as we progressed as a club, it is something that could be reviewed if we have not moved to our desired new ground by then.
Before the cup game we have the small matter of the best Fireworks Display in the area tonight. Gates open at 6.00pm and after the rain of the past 24 hours we are looking good for tonight, so be sure to bring your family along for a fantastic evening. Tickets are available on the gate, or if you want to beat the queues they can be purchased online up until 5.00pm today from here.
This is going to be a great weekend for the town of Chesham and I hope everyone has a fantastic and enjoyable time at the club whether you are visiting for the Fireworks, the FA Cup or both. I cannot remember a weekend like this, there are even pubs in the town closing during the afternoon so that they can come along and support the football team, that is truly humbling. I can promise you that everyone has put in a tremendous amount of effort to put on these events, so please be respectful of our volunteers that are enabling the events to take place and follow any instructions accordingly. With so many people in attendance there will inevitably be some longer queues than normal, but let’s all be patient, polite and respectful to make it an enjoyable occasion for all. We even have the BBC cameras down at the ground – let’s show what a fantastic town Chesham United is and let’s hope that the hard work of so many is paid back with a historic victory… and then all the preparations and excitement can begin again for the Second Round!
Thank you as always, more than ever, for your remarkable support for our football club. I’m not sure I will, but please try to get some sleep tonight and arrive at The Meadow early and in good voice for tomorrow’s game.
Peter Brown, Chairman