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.