Felixstowe & Walton United gained
When Felixstowe & Walton United gained promotion at the end of last season, everybody knew that life at a higher level in the football pyramid would mean a lot of extra work for everybody involved at the club. And so it has turned out. The buzzword at The Goldstar Ground is busy, busy, busy.
As you are reading this, the club will have hosted the Felixstowe Firework Spectacular for the 11th year. At the time of writing this, ticket sales suggest another bumper turnout of something in the region of 4,500 people enjoying the afternoon and evening. A huge thank you is appropriate for Facilities Manager Chris Daynes for organizing such a popular event.
As you are probably aware, almost all the work at the club is carried out by volunteers. One of the stalwarts on the media side of things is Stan Baston, who sits pitchside in all weather clicking away, taking pictures for both the club website and the local press. Relying on just one person to carry out such an important role is not the best of ideas and so, in an initiative recently introduced, the club invited budding photographers along to the club to get advice and tips from Stan about the art of capturing matchday footage.
At the recent home game against Suffolk rivals AFC Sudbury, Stan spent time with Thomas, Amy and Carl, all armed with impressive looking camera equipment, and helped them set up pitchside to snap away, capturing match action. As well as finding their work on the club website the following morning, they also had pictures published alongside the match report in The East Anglian Daily Times on the Monday. It looks like the club has just expanded its group of volunteers all helping out in any number of ways. It may even allow Stan a day off now and again!
We spoke above about the home match with AFC Sudbury in The Bostik North League. We won’t dwell on the fact that The Seasiders lost 1-0 despite having beaten Long Melford away 8-1 just three days earlier, but there is much to consider about the day itself. The Sudbury game came on National Non-League Day. This is when Premiership and Championship sides aren’t playing and all football fans are encouraged to go along to watch their local non-league side instead. In Felixstowe, a very healthy 663 people turned up on the day and were greeted by Jim the turnstile operator with a “Pay what you want” policy to gain entry. The 50/50 draw was conducted with proceeds going to Prostate Cancer UK and a collection bucket or two were passed around the crowd too. It must be said that people really did give generously.
The club invited BBC Radio Suffolk to visit on the day and Mark Murphy came along to broadcast his “Life’s a Pitch” two-hour show live from the ground. Any number of people were lined up for interview including officials, players, volunteers, catering staff and fans. It really was a special day with a cracking atmosphere with only the scoreline failing to keep everyone completely happy. Ah well….it’s only a game!
Three days after that particular game, The Goldstar ground received something of a facelift. For those of you who don’t know, once inside the ground, fans have the choice of sitting in the covered stand, standing in the covered stand or leaning up against the railings, albeit without cover, near the dugouts or behind the goal. They can also loiter outside the bar but still with an excellent view. This latter option tends to be popular it’s worth noting. But now there is a further option of sitting in a brand new covered stand behind the goal at the Colneis Road end.
When the new stand arrived, proceedings were somewhat familiar to most home deliveries. The club received a phone call in the morning saying when it would arrive and, true to their word, along came the delivery of a brand new stand all in one piece on the back of a lorry. A number of people at the club took the opportunity to drop whatever tasks they had at that moment to pop outside and watch one man, with a 10-ton flat bed truck and a remote control, manoeuvre the stand into position. 90 minutes later the delivery was complete.
That 90 minutes did remind everyone, of course, that it is all about football. Nevertheless, it’s also very much also about a vibrant community all involved at Felixstowe & Walton United FC.