In November 2016 my local non-league football team Billericay Town were bobbing along in the Ryman Premier Division. The ground had seen better days and memories of winning the Isthmian League in 2012 were fading fast. It had even come to the point where our active support base was fractured and the existing supporters association wasn’t as effective as it once had been. Then in December our world changed.
The much publicised purchase of our club by Glenn Tamplin took place and straightaway the squad changed, the ground was rebuilt, we were on the front and back pages of newspapers and all this in a matter of months.
The old Billericay Town Supporters Association committee realised that with increased crowds and exposure of our club we needed to radically rethink the future of our fan organisation.
After trawling the Supporters Direct website it was decided that the trust model was one worth investigating further. Opinion was sort not just from the old organisation but also from those that had formed their own independent group.
Information was gained from Nicola Hudson and Richard Irving at Supporters Direct and incredibly valuable help and experience was gleaned from the Leyton Orient Fans Trust (LOFT). Thanks go to Jonathan Kaye, Doug Harper, Anna Fleming and Vicki Kaye.
So armed with as much information as we could gather we convened a meeting to which all supporters were invited and we laid out our plans to dissolve the old association and unify our supporters under one as the Billericay Town Supporters Society. The meeting went very well with over 70 people in attendance and representation from Supporters Direct and LOFT. It was agreed a working party would be formed to investigate further. A few weeks later another meeting was held and the supporters unanimously agreed to set up a trust.
Many forms were completed, FCA approval was granted and eventually a bank account was opened. In September 2017 we signed up our first members and 4 of us attended a board member training day at Craven Cottage organised by Supporters Direct. The working party are currently organising all that is needed for our first elections that are to be held early in the New Year.
Engagement from the football club itself has been established and initial good relationships are ongoing.
I see our aims as being the voice of Billericay Town supporters and to gain a structured representation of their interests with the football club. Also I see that involvement with our local community as imperative to our future.
So in this new era for our Football Club the need for structured fan organisation is incredibly important now more than ever. I wonder what the next 6 months will bring.
Billericay Town Supporters Society (Working Party Member)