Happy New Season Eve to you all
Tomorrow (Saturday) we get our first taste of how well-prepared we are for the new season as we make the short trip down the A40 for our opening game of the season against Hanwell Town, hopefully there will be many of our 300+ replica shirts sold in attendance to help cheer the team on to a winning start. It is a long season ahead, but a good start will give everyone a buzz ahead of our first home game next Saturday against newly relegated Hungerford Town.
Last night (Thursday) we held an Open Meeting at the club where I was able to introduce our recently added board members to those in attendance. I appreciate the meeting was held at short notice, so it was not exactly standing room only, but it was a good opportunity to talk openly and frankly with supporters, and also receive their feedback. Overall it was a very positive meeting, and sometimes it is only when talking to other people about what we are doing that you realise the huge strides we have made over the past three years.
A non-league football club at this level will always feel in a precarious position financially and staying afloat continues to take a disproportionate amount of our time. However, with initiatives like We Buy Any Car, the groundshare with Aylesbury United, the nursery that we have had at the club, the events that Alex Horne has brought to the club – these are all significant boosts to our income that previously would have had to come from individual donations, or we accept playing in a lower league. However, what is most rewarding is that in amongst all that we have also launched and supported a hugely successful charity partnership with Bucks Mind that has seen us raise the sort of money for the charity that I never believed possible when we first approached them. Thank you to everyone for your part in that.
With Andy Westlake, Mike Caidan and Chris Kay alongside me at the meeting it was also evident how we have made huge strides in fulfilling our One Club ambition as we were able to share the plans, ambitions and thoughts of the Ladies set-up in the same breath as we talked about the men’s side. On the back of the joint training session a couple of weeks ago, that also saw hundreds of free season tickets given to our youth section, for the first time, probably ever, I think we can justifiably say that we are One Club, with joined up thinking and cohesive ambition.
All of this, along with other community involvement, such as organising the recent Treorchy Choir concert, is fundamental to getting the structure of the club right and build the foundation to strive towards what many of us want, and realistically what our matchday supporters want: a successful football team that is pushing for promotion this season. It is dangerous to talk things up too much, and I don’t want to get carried away, but I really feel as though we are in our best position at this stage of the season for several years. I believe we have a stronger squad than last season. Our budget is nowhere near the top in our league. Realistically we are probably just sneaking into the top ten of playing budgets in our league, but we have a management team in place that have been here a while now, have settled into the Chesham way and know the league. Add that to the additional board members and One Chesham ethos, things are looking up.
Perhaps the biggest challenge remains getting volunteers to help with some of the small but important jobs that can ease the burden of others. As was pointed out last night at the meeting, I am sure we are not the only sports club or organisation that faces the same challenges, but that does not mean that we are going to give up trying! Last week I listed a number of roles that we are looking to fill. There was very little response and as mentioned if it comes to it we may have to look at making these paid roles, which would be a shame to counter all the hard work that has gone into plugging the historic financial gaps, only to have to spend it on roles that have been carried out by volunteers in the past. Maybe that is the age we live in, but if you can help, please do let me know – firstname.lastname@example.org.
A reminder that we are holding a very special evening on Thursday 14th September 2023, hosted by our very own comedian and Taskmaster host, Alex Horne, with guest speaker the legendary Ian Holloway. The evening will include a fish and chip supper plus 2 free drinks for every guest. Full bar facilities will also be available. The format will consist of tables of eight and the ticket price is £72 inc VAT. Tables are selling fast amongst our business partners, so if any supporters are interested in attending, please contact email@example.com
I look forward to seeing many of you at Hanwell tomorrow, thanks for your support.
Peter Brown, Chairman