A successful Supporters Association A.G.M. took place on Tuesday 23rd June with well over 50 members attending.

For those of you who were unable to attend you can now read Lloyd Briscoe’s full address below. The full Minutes of the meeting will be published soon.
It has been my honour to have been your Chairman now for three years.
It is a position which I take seriously, in full knowledge of the fact that the Supporters Association is the vehicle designed to represent the fans views and to relay them formally to Stevenage Borough’s management team.

In support of this mandate, as you know, the Supporters Association to helping the senior club in any way that it can, principally by supporting club initiatives, and fund raising.

The task might sound straightforward, but one has to consider our situation.

54 years ago, a photograph was taken by the local newspaper depicting my ancestral counterpart, Bill Keetch, the chairman of the Stevenage Town Supporters Club. In the photograph, Bill is presenting a clock to Alan Jackson, in commemoration of his 100th game for the club.
In those days, the football club and its supporters club usually worked hand-in-hand in order to guarantee the town a decent standard of football. The supporters club would oversee fund raising initiatives, and work with the football club to supply and facilitate equipment and services necessary for the routine function of the club.

That was 50 odd years ago, when Stevenage were a truly amateur club. Today, Stevenage Borough is a full-time professional club.
Since 1994 it has been a Limited Company and is run as a business. The Supporters Association are shareholders in this business.
The business is owned by the chairman, Phil Wallace, and it is he who has to ensure that the club must survive and thrive, based upon the managerial decisions which he and his team are required to take every day.

So, what part does the Supporters Association play in this?

The easy answer would be to recite the aims and objectives of the Supporters Association, of which there are two, – as documented in our Constitution:

1. To provide activities and benefits to the Supporters of Stevenage Borough Football Club, and to build lasting links between the Club and its’ Supporters.

2. To provide resources and expertise to the Football Club, which enables the Club to meet its’ objectives

So, what are the Club’s objectives?

Well, if anyone here tonight used to telephone up the SA’s President, Jim Briscoe, prior to his confinement, then you could be guaranteed with the phrase “Stevenage for League Football” in a deep Yorkshire brogue.

Who amongst us here tonight doesn’t want that?

The bottom line is that we are here to represent the Supporters of the Club, if, as, and when the Club want our help.

Case in point would be the time when we were invited to canvas you, our membership, about a possible name change for the Club. Details of the response were put onto the Club’s main web-site, but the point is when Phil Wallace wanted to know the views of the Club’s Supporters, then the Supporters Association were able to facilitate.

This year we organised another successful Player of the Year Award ceremony. Sadly, I was unable to attend due to a prior engagement, but happily, the Club Chairman, Phil Wallace, was able to make the award to Mark Roberts.

I should like to thank all the committee members who ensured the success of this year’s presentations.

Our web-site has proved to be a success, currently achieving about 80 hits a day. The committee have recently discussed the content matter of the web-site and have concluded that it should contain more news and features in order to make it more interesting.

To this end, we will endeavour to accomplish this.

This year, we have also attempted to promote all of Boro’s home games by the inclusion of a fixture poster, available for downloading, printing, and posting wherever members and supporters have a wont to stick it.
The senior club have dabbled with this in the past, but the SA intend to compliment this initiative by ensuring consistency in updates and publication.

The idea of the poster on our web-site is not new.

80% of all the other clubs in the Conference also promote their home games in the same way. Please ensure its’ success by utilising this facility.

It’s at this point that I should like to thank Stephen Pattison for the maintenance and the upkeep of the web-site.

In last year’s AGM report, I mentioned that I maintained a curious eye on what initiatives other clubs’ supporters organisations do, in order to see if we’re missing a trick somewhere.

I am happy to report that in comparison, your SA still probably offers the best value for money for your subscription, in the Conference.
I hope to publish an updated comparison analysis in the future, either on our web-site, or a match-day programme.

In order to do this effectively, I still maintain a good rapport and dialogue with my counter-parts at most of the other clubs in the Conference.

The most effective way in which I can relate to this is via the match-day programme.

Those of you who read my comments regularly will note that I routinely welcome our opposition supporters’ club’s officials by name – a courtesy which costs us nothing but, in my opinion, engenders a friendship the likes that only Conference football can evoke.

Conscious of what other Clubs get up to, I was also interested to read a copy of the Football League’s Supporters Survey for 2008. Although a level above us, it is still interesting to learn wholly credible statistics that could easily apply to clubs such as ours, for example:

– The average match-day supporter attends 16 home games and 5 away games a season

– 84% of a club’s supporters purchase club merchandise on a regular basis

– 41% of those who wear a replica shirt tend to be the first to buy a new one when it is launched

– 7 out of 10 supporters indicated that their main source of club info was from the club’s main web-site

– 42% of supporters arrive at the ground within 20 minutes of the kick-off (Suggesting inducements to come to the stadium earlier)

– Refereeing – 58% of all fans believe that the standard of refereeing is either average, good, or very good, but only 1 in 5 see refereeing standards getting better.

Sometimes, my programme notes will allude to the history of football in Stevenage, an initiative which I announced last year. This is progressing well, and I thank you most sincerely to those of you who have allowed me access to historical data and photographs during the year.

I am indebted to people like Len Brown’s wife, for all the photographs of the Stevenage Town team in the 1950’s.

To Christine Folbigg, wife of the late Vic Folbigg – and access to not only Vic’s old scrap-book, but that too of Lummy Taylor, a Stevenage Town legend.

To John Amess of the Stevenage Society for Local History.

To Claire Sutton, the curator of the Stevenage Museum.

To David Hodges, the curator of the Hitchin Museum.

To Jackie Berners, for loan of the original Stevenage Borough Football Club minutes book, which details the events right from the Club’s inception, back in 1976, – and to the late Ron Berners, for use of all his match-day programmes, particulary pre-1990’s.

The initiative is progressing well, but I would still appeal to anyone who has any material, but has yet to contact me. All contributions gratefully borrowed and sensitively copied.

So, – a couple of things I’ve found out recently, and I should like to share with you:

For example, did you know that a military aircraft actually crashed on this site, what is now the Lamex Stadium, shortly after WW1? Evidently, a plane en-route from RAF Henlow to Farnborough got lost in thick fog resulting in the plane coming down here. Happily, the pilot survived.

Also, in the 1920’s, the town club couldn’t afford the luxury of a lawn-mower. So, in order to keep the grass short, they arranged for sheep to graze on the playing surface of the old London Road ground…

Right, enough of the past, what of today?

Well, once again, the Supporters Association organised the annual Christmas players visit to the children’s ward of the Lister Hospital, where presents were distributed to the youngsters there.
Thank-you to Jackie and Jennie for organising, and to Graham Westley for allowing the players to participate.

Buoyed by his experience of Wembley in 2007, John Carroll was allowed to indulge in repeating the experience, and a great job he did too. Lessons from the adventure two years ago were learnt, and getting the fans to this year’s FA Trophy final on the buses went without a hitch.

John is a highly valued member of the Supporters Association committee, and my grateful thanks go to him again on this occasion.

Our accounts have again been maintained in good order, and the monies generated by the good work that the 50/50 girls do is reflected in the amount collected throughout the season. Jenny and Jackie are to be applauded for their efforts.

Mervyn, as ever, has diligently worked behind the scenes to ensure that the efficient running of the Supporters Association is maintained at a high standard.

Sadly, however, circumstances have contrived to inhibit Mervyn’s ability to conduct his duties as effectively as he would have liked. Reluctantly, Mervyn has elected to stand down from his current role, allowing the opportunity for someone else to take over the reins.

Happily, Mervyn has agreed to retain the administrative duties of looking after such things as the Supporters’ Association’s database, producing membership cards, sending out birthday cards, and operating the highly successful, and unique, “Baby Boro” initiative.

On behalf of the entire committee, I should like to formally thank Mervyn for his contribution in making the SA what it is today.

Whilst on the subject of databases, Mervyn’s statistics have recently illustrated to me the demographic representation of our membership, some of which surprised me.

For example, did you know that only 58% of Supporters Association members actually live in the SG1 and SG2 postcode areas?

– 4% of you live in Hitchin.

– 4% of you live in Letchworth

– 3% in Ware, but,

– almost 10% of you come from Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield.

We have members living all over the place.

Aberdeen to Arlesey. Bingley to Biggleswade. Nottingham to Northampton.

I have even mooted the possibility of promoting our club abroad, but this might need some further debate.

As Editor of the match-day programme, Stuart Govier has endeavoured to ensure that the Supporters Association is able to get its message across. This valuable communicable forum is one which will soon be transcribed across to our web-site on a regular basis, so that those of you who might not purchase a match-day programme can at least keep up-to-date via the web.

A personal thanks to Stuart for his efforts during the season just concluded.

Whilst on the question of thanks, it would be remiss of me not to mention the contribution that Keith Berners provides with regard to the running of the Association.

To me personally, Keith is the font of experience and advice, having been its original chairman for many years.

Thank you to both Keith and Jackie for allowing the committee to meet up at their house, where tea, and conversation about the Boro are both plentiful.

In conclusion, whilst on the subject of Jackie and Keith, I hope that members here tonight will commiserate with me about their recent bereavement,

Keith’s dad, – Ron.

Ron Berners was an original “founding father” of this football club. He was one of that group of “enthusiasts” who made sure that Stevenage Borough Football Club maintained a high profile within the town.
Ron was the new club’s Treasurer at the very first meeting which was held on Thursday September 30th 1976.

That’s a long time ago now.

His passing was a shock to us all, – and we will miss him.

Thank you

Lloyd Briscoe
June 23rd 2009

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