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Accrington Stanley programme notes: Membership packs are coming!

It’s good to be back for the first match of the year, wrote Murry Toms in our programme notes for the Accrington Stanley match.

It promises to be a fantastic 12 months, with one eye on the past and the other firmly on the future.

Twenty years ago this May we won at Wembley, the day the town fell in love with the club.

We’ve had our moments but on the whole the past two decades have been nothing short of remarkable and we will help commemorate that pivotal day in our history at the end of the season.

Then we want to play our part in what comes next and we can all play a part in that.

We’ve hit the ground running in January after an eventful time at the Robins Trust.

We now have all the new membership cards, certificates and letters sporting our new branding and we’re keen to get these out to everyone as soon as we can.

We know a handful of supporters have waited some time to receive them but we appreciate their patience and we are working as quickly as we can.

Our membership has more than doubled in the last 12 months so we have a long list to get through but rest assured, it’s all hands to the pump.

Ideally we’d like fans to come along and collect them on matchdays to speed up the process, but of course we will arrange postage where necessary.

Simply let us know at and we’ll arrange that.

Otherwise members can find us in the main bar at Barnet game in a fortnight to grab their new packs, and each home game after that.

We’re also thrilled to announce the details of the online auction for the special blue shirts.

We were approached by club sponsors AMS Auctions, based up in Leckhampton, to help out on this front and for that we’re very grateful.

They have a wealth of national and oversees experience in this space and their support has been invaluable.

And the best bit is that they’re regulars, home and away, so they’re simply playing their part in the massive team effort.

All the shirts are up for grabs, except for Jamie Grimes’ and Danny Wright’s which went collectively for £300 in the post-match auctions.

We have also received the jersey which was featured on Sky Sport’s Soccer AM (or Soccer PM as it was on December 9, on a day of firsts).

Boxer Tyson Fury, Danny Dyer from Eastenders and the rest of team signed it and sent it back to us which is a classy touch.

The auction goes live on Wednesday at midday and will run for 10 days until Saturday, January 27, when it closes at 9pm after the home match against Barnet.

That means everyone has a few days to head over to to quickly register their details to be ready for the off.

The bidding for each will start at £40, which is the price you’d pay in the shop for a replica shirt, and bidding will go up in increments of £2 thereafter.

You’ll find all the details on both our website and, plus all the usual social media channels this weekend.

So far we’ve raised close to £2,500 so far I’d love to see us hit the £4,000-mark so get behind a great cause and grab a piece of Robins’ history in the process!

Read the ‘Fans for Diversity’ annual report

We’re pleased to share the third ‘Fans for Diversity’ annual report, jointly produced by Kick It Out and The Football Supporters’ Federation.

It highlights the great impact the campaign has made by working to bring fans, communities and clubs closer together in both the Football League and the non-league scene.

It’s primary aim is focused on making the game as inclusive as possible, and key to this success has been giving fans the opportunity to access the Fans for Diversity Fund.

The funding is designed to help and encourage fan-led activity that celebrates equality and diversity in football, and to date it has funded well over 100 events, activities and fan resources.

If you have any ideas of your own, or know of any Cheltenham Town fans you feel would benefit from the fund, please get in touch with us at

Newport County programme notes: Exiles story one to admire

When I arrived at the Weston Homes Community Stadium for the match against Colchester United on January 2, I could never have imagined how the next 12 months would pan out, wrote Murry Toms in our programme notes for the match against Newport County.

It’s a year I’ll look back on with a lot of pride, as should today’s visitors Newport County.

A month after the trip to Essex we welcomed the struggling Exiles to Whaddon Road, the day I turned 40 (I know, I don’t look a day over 60).

They were down but not quite out, and a win would have given us some breathing space at the foot of the table.

But a chap by the name of Jaanai Gordon salvaged a point with a last-gasp equaliser and they haven’t looked back.

The goal deep into injury time sparked a remarkable 12-game run that saw the Welsh side stay up against all the odds and reward the hugely impressive Michael Flynn with the manager’s job at his hometown club.

Now they’re flirting with the play- offs. It’s remarkable.

Then in the summer former chairman and lottery winner Les Scadding agreed to transfer his shareholding in the club to the Newport County AFC Supporters Trust.

In October the club became fan-owned after £236,000 was raised to complete the move with the vast majority coming from fans, bringing the feel- good factor to Rodney Parade.

What an amazing story and one I hugely admire. I’m sure they face many challenges but like the supporters (and co-owners) at Wycombe Wanderers and Exeter City I’m sure they wouldn’t have it any other way.

You only have to spend 90 minutes or so at a famous old club like Coventry City to see how badly it can go.

We’ve seen it even closer to home with our great rivals Gloucester City, who used to provide us with the festive period’s highlight on Boxing Day.

We’ve been talking to their Trust, crossing the divide to offer our help at a challenging time in their history. We’ll do whatever we can help to support them.

As Cheltenham supporters we can look back over the last 12 months with a great deal of pride and satisfaction with the way we have worked together to create some memorable moments.

None more so than seeing the legend ‘Churchy’ lead out the players to launch the new away strip in Aaron Downes’ shirt at the open day back in July.

For me it perfectly encapsulated the year, seeing the players and supporters coming closer together to really celebrate what it is to be involved with this club.

There’s plenty more to come but for now I think we can enjoy a well deserved pint.

Yeovil Town programme notes: blue day was a success

We’re thrilled with how the blue day went, wrote Murry Toms in our programme notes for our Boxing Day match against Yeovil Town.

We have raised around £2,500 with the online auction of the squad’s match-worn kits to follow so we could reach £4,000 for the British Lung Foundation at a push, which is a staggering effort.

It was a tremendous show of support for Ian and Vicky and everyone played their part in making it happen, and that’s what makes Cheltenham Town such a special place.

Once again the supporters were front and centre, working with the club and – in this case – the charity to produce an idea that caught the eye in the town and beyond.

We’ve seen similar successes with bigger initiatives such as the Crowdfunder, the 12th Man and season ticket campaign, away shirt launch and the open day.

But it’s becoming more evident in smaller ways every day and that’s contributing to burgeoning culture of ‘fan engagement’ at Whaddon Road.

In the lead up to Christmas I travelled with Paul Godfrey to join The Fan Experience Company for a really interesting session at the Etihad Campus in Manchester, part of City’s incredible facility.

Mark Bradley, the chap behind the organisation, put on a fantastic event with speakers from across the industry and challenged us to think long and hard about what we stand for as a club.

There were some inspirational stories of supporter-led projects from across the footballing world on the night and it really got us thinking on the way home.

One thing it wasn’t was a gathering of greedy ‘suits’, hoping to stumble across the silver bullet for bigger attendances or a new way to rinse supporters of their hard-earned cash.

This was a group of proper footballing people who are dedicated to the cause, sharing ideas and know-how to grow the relationship between their club and their supporters.

It rightly dismissed the ’emperor’s new clothes’ tendency to celebrate high numbers of social media followers and demanded more relevant and meaningful conversations online.

And it had nothing to do with driving success on the pitch – winning of course helps but that’s out of our hands so we’ll leave that to the experts and focus on what we can do.

It was all about building a strategy and culture to grow a sustainable future, and Mark’s team focuses on four key areas to achieve success:

  • Building a meaningful identity
  • Creating an authentic supporter dialogue
  • Consistently excellent fan experiences
  • Valued and motivated workforce

I think we’re on the right path but there’s also so much more we can do too. We aim to work into all of these themes in the new year and we want everyone to get involved to have their say.

The board are fully behind what we’re doing but it’s up to us to continue to shape the type of club we want here. We’ve started to prove that by working together we can do that, so I’m looking forward to see where we can take it in 2018.

Cambridge United programme notes: Football has the power to do so much good

Bill Shankly once said that football was more important than life or death, wrote Murry Toms in our programme notes for the Cambridge United match.

Of course the great man was wrong, although there are times when it feels like that.

The idea for turning the club blue was a Trust one and the club’s board should be applauded for once again, backing an idea that came from the supporters. It’s a simple but effective way of rallying around two of our own at a challenging time in their lives.

It’s what communities are all about and it’s what Cheltenham Town Football Club does best. The joint event between us, the club and the British Lung Foundation should raise a huge amount of awareness around lung disease and a fair few quid along the way.

November also is Lung Cancer Awareness Month so Monday’s announcement is timely. We will be sharing stories and other articles leading up to the Crewe Alexandra match so please read them, and share away. If we help one person through this initiative, then it’ll be worth it.

On the day the Trust are planning to host an ‘fans fest’ with DJ Shippers, building the atmosphere with good music ahead of the game. Afterwards we’ll be auctioning one of the one-off match shirts for the charity and our aim is to bring everyone together for the cause.

Football has the power to do so much good. This forthcoming weekend the charity Stonewall will be promoting its Rainbow Laces campaign to bring LGBT issues in football back to the fore. It’s another simple idea that catches the eye and delivers a powerful message.

The corner flags at Forest Green Rovers will be rainbow coloured, as will the captain armbands. Many players will be sporting the laces in a show of solidarity to support lesbian, gay, bi and trans-gender fans, players and staff across the game.

It’s important to continue to challenge archaic attitudes both inside football and within the wider society, and this campaign is a terrific example of how you can harness the game to do that. Maybe one day a player will feel safe enough to come out because let’s face it, there must be dozens that are too afraid at the moment to do so in the professional environment.

Saturday promises to be a memorable day as a thousand Cheltenham fans make the trip to Nailsworth for the county’s first league derby. Make sure you leave yourselves enough time to get up the hill and enter the ground. Let’s put on a real show down there and show them what it means to support a proper football club.

Gloucestershire is red (and blue on December 9).