As a group, the consortium want to make sure that we stay in touch with as many of the BTFC family as possible. With that in mind, I’ll carry on putting out these updates throughout the summer. I do hope that you are all staying safe and well. BTFC try to keep in contact with as many people as possible but aren’t always aware of how everyone is doing. The main thing is to be there for each other and to know that the club will continue to provide whatever help we can. At the same time, we are now busily preparing for the return of football whenever that might be. Along with everyone else, we hope that next season will be able to start on time. We will be prepared for that and will take whatever measures are required to keep our fans, players and staff safe.
Before, I move on to football, I’d just like to say a huge congratulations to Joe Lane on beating the virus and to wish him well on returning to full health. We are a family club and Joe is one of our elder brothers (maybe even an uncle). Well done mate, you had us all worried there for a while – we definitely can’t afford to lose that amount of bar revenue ! Seriously though, you were in our prayers and that goes for everyone who has been affected in whatever way by this pandemic.
Right, onto the football updates:
Season tickets – Now that the National League have cancelled the season, we will be writing to all of our season ticket holders to discuss what they would like to do about last season’s sadly curtailed home games. Everyone has different circumstances and so there will be a range of options available. The letters should be with all current season ticket holders over the next 2 weeks.
We will be publishing the details of next season’s ticketing once we have more clarity on when the start might be. I know that some people would be happy to help the club financially by purchasing a ticket now and that thought is very much appreciated. However, as a group, we want to ensure that you have a better idea of when you will be able to re-start watching matches at New Lodge. All of this will be confirmed in due course alongside the likely timescale the government publishes for easing the current restrictions.
Our original plan was to have two artificial pitches ready for next season. However, Covid-19 came along and with it the need for sensible financial caution. We have no idea when we would be able to use the new facilities and when a revenue stream into the club is likely to start in terms of matches, training and pitch hire. Therefore, whilst we still have the same vision, we are going to move forwards a little more carefully as keeping a football club financially viable is the primary aim.
Work on the main pitch, to install a new top quality artificial surface, will start this week as planned. This will be complete for early Sept and ensure both that we won’t lose matches to the weather (no more ‘pitch inspection’ farces) and that the club becomes a base for both training and matches for our senior teams and as many others as we can comfortably accommodate.
It is likely that Tuesdays and Thursdays will see our men’s first team, U18’s and U23’s as well as our Women’s first team and reserves training at New Lodge across the evening. There will be several matches for all of these teams during the week as the season’s progresses. Saturday’s and Sundays will both be packed with games for us all to enjoy. The club will become a true hub for us all to enjoy. We really can’t wait.
This plan will then leave us with the second ‘community’ pitch / facility to complete when life, and finance, allows. We will keep the timing of that under regular review. The beauty of this is that, having completed the main pitch, we could carry out the additional work at any point without impacting the season.
The club is growing
Last season we had 44 clubs playing under the BTFC banner. With the addition of a new U18 and U23 men’s team, plus some additional boys and girls teams, we will have 50 this coming season. We will continue to add teams to the family as we build the New Lodge site. You will see adverts for players interested in joining all of our teams over the coming weeks, resulting in trials as soon as we are able. Anyone interested will be asked to register their details via our website when the time arrives. I would ask all of you to spread the word.
We were also talking to our neighbours at the cricket club just prior to ‘lockdown’ and will reach out to the Tennis club across summer. If we can work more closely together and help each other, then our joint intention is to become a real sports hub for the Billericay area.
Community Covid response
Those on social media will be well aware of our Go Fund me page ( follow this link – gf.me/u/xrah7f ), that we have set-up in conjunction with our wonderful street pastors and the Supporters Society. As I write, we have raised just over £5,000. This money has been used to buy and distribute food and essential items to the Billericay Food Bank and vulnerable people throughout our community. My thanks go to the pastors, the BTSS, volunteers, local stores (especially Waitrose), suppliers, and of course everyone who has contributed with goods / money, for everything that they have done to ease the situation for so many people. I would also like to thank one of our consortium, Nick Hutt, for running with this idea from the outset and making sure that we have delivered on it to such good effect.
We are not finished yet. Several kind people have already had their heads shaved to boost the contributions coming in. Nick Hutt, Nicky Hayes, Alex Morrisey, Dave Williams and Chris Mumford have all lost their flowing locks to the clippers so far. The ‘barnets’ of Dan Sampford and Dan Groves are in sight and, if we can get to £7500, then Jamie O’Hara will be sporting a far more streamlined bonce next time he appears on Sky Sports. So let’s keep up the good work. If you haven’t done so yet, please click on the link above. It’s a great cause and a great example of what this fantastic community can do.
An Online Fans’ Forum before the end of May
Yes we are going online to give you a further update and to answer your questions. This will be set up via Zoom and so you won’t have to leave home to ‘virtually’ join us. Details of the date and how to join the event online and submit questions, will be published shortly. We look forward to speaking to as many of you as possible.
To close, football will be back and Billericay Town FC will be ready. This club means such a lot to so many people and even more so at times like this. We can’t wait to be with you at that first home game, cheer that first goal, feel a part of the club and the friendships it brings. Obviously football has to take a back seat at the moment. However, we probably all now realise what a huge part of our normal lives it represents. Stay safe, stay well and look after yourselves and each other. To the NHS and all of our key workers that are out there every day getting us through this – we salute you.