The Airdrie Supporters Trust welcomes the opportunity to re-establish links with our fellow supporters at Chelsea and provide an update on our work at our football club.
We remember well the regular visits made to Airdrie games by a band of Chelsea supporters over the years and look forward to welcoming them back in the near future. Our primary aims at the Airdrie Trust are to support the football club, campaign for supporters’ interests and promote football in the local community. To allow us to best provide this service our objective is to gain representation on the Board.
The Trust has worked hard to improve our member base this season and as a result of this membership has quadrupled from just over 50 to almost 200. The catalyst for this rise was the funding of a free entry scheme for young supporters at home games in January last year. This generated a lot of good press in local and national newspapers and goodwill amongst supporters and the community.
Perhaps the best outcome from this was that it spurred greater involvement from fans in the work of the Trust and kick-started a campaign that defined the rest of the year for us. The KitAid project without doubt galvanised the Trust to greater achievements as it brought together both the support and community.
It led to one of the best ‘Trust’ days ever, at the Airdrie Fair Day, and underpinned our drive to provide free season tickets to young supporters. This translated into over 4,000 donations of kit for KitAid, for use in the third world, from which we donated 400 season tickets to children. The Trust paid the Club £9,000 for this privilege.
Many of the children who received free season books are now members of the Airdrie Aces, our young supporters group, which now numbers almost 100. This was encouraging as it trebles our membership from last season. It also exemplifies what we are trying to achieve in encouraging youngsters back to the games… and for a small Club like ours, bringing paying adults with them.
The Aces are a huge investment for the Trust and in an effort to maintain their interest in attending games we hold football training and arts and craft classes before all home matches. We also fund free trips to selected away games for them. Money has to be raised to fund these investments and donations from small businesses and individuals supplement this work.
We also opened a Trust shop at the beginning of the season that is run by volunteers. It has been very well supported and has helped us meet a very difficult financial target.
Alongside these initiatives we launched a quarterly fanzine entitled ‘Only The Lonely’. Over 400 copies of the first issue were sold. Issue 2 has now been released and is selling well. We’ve had interest in the fanzine worldwide and, thanks to eBay, have had sales throughout Europe, the Americas, the Far East and Australia.
Sadly, it was the demise of one of our greatest icons, from motor neurons disease, which brought out the best of our support and epitomised what it is to be part of the Airdrie family.
The passing of 90s hero Sammy Conn and the subsequent fundraising efforts of supporters, exceeded everyone’s expectations and raised over £12,000. It also brought together many of Sammy’s team-mates for a game against the supporters.
It was a very emotional day. To see so many people turn out and contribute to such a great cause was very humbling. What was even more moving was the family’s wishes that part of the money raised be shared amongst local charities such as the hospice and building of a covered disabled shelter at the ground, nicknamed, Sammy’s Shelter.
Our charitable work didn’t stop at the hospice, or KitAid. We also raised funds for the Poppy Appeal, Save the Children and organised the collection for the local Toy Appeal and shopping for the local food-bank.
Another fundraising idea was our foray into the ‘beer’ market and the launch of ML6. Our tie in with a microbrewery proved to be a worthwhile exercise. We received great exposure in the local and national press and it has raised more than £500 for the Trust so far.
We also entered the music scene recently and as well promoting a gig for local bands at the Excelsior Stadium (Airdieonians’ home ground), have organised a One Direction tribute band event. The profits from these shows provide welcome funds for the Trust.
Our work with primary and secondary schools football continues and we once more organised and sponsored football festivals and cup tournaments. Over 30 schools now take part in these annual events.
As well as encouraging schools football we also support our own youth football teams. Consequently, we sponsor the Airdrie under-13 team. The young Diamonds proudly wear the KitAid logo on the front of their shirts and the Trust name on the back.
I hope it’s evident that, at our small Trust in Airdrie, we are improving our links at the football club, meeting supporters’ needs and engaging with the local community.
We know we can do more and are seeking like-minded businesses and individuals, who share our philosophy, to come forward and support us. We have the grand aim of putting supporters back at the heart of the football club and local community.
While we represent different spectrums of football supporters, at heart, our aims are the same: At Chelsea and Airdrie we love our football club and want nothing more than have our voices heard, and, more importantly, taken account of, in the boardroom. Without supporters football is passionless, which is why we are working tirelessly to encourage supporters to follow Airdrie.
I wish our friends at Chelsea Trust huge success with their objectives and look forward to seeing the Chelsea flag once more at Airdrie games sometime in the future.