Column: Why should local firms give Worksop Town their hard earned cash?

Andy Ofosu celebrating Worksop Towns 3rd goal with fans. Making the score 3-0 to Worksop Town.
Andy Ofosu celebrating Worksop Towns 3rd goal with fans. Making the score 3-0 to Worksop Town.

I see the football club have got their begging bowl out – here we go again.

A view that may well emanate from Bassetlaw residents this summer, as Worksop Town volunteers embark on the arduous fundraising that will keep their club alive for another year.

Over the past couple of seasons I’ve had countless conversations about Tigers with those involved in the district’s sport scene, people with varying degrees of understanding when it comes to the world’s fourth oldest club.

To the uninitiated who only glance at the headlines, it might seem like there’s a certain time of year when Worksop Town go to the local community with their hand out.

“They’re always needing saving,” was a quote I heard more than once in the wake of Jason Clark’s exit from the scene.

There’s an element of truth to that statement, Worksop Town have needed rescuing more than their fair share over the years.

What is also true, however, is that you cannot hold that against the supporters – the people who actually make up the real identity of a football club, those who wear the badge for decades and not just a year or two, like players and managers.

And it’s those supporters who hold the key to both the club’s continued existence, and the very reason why local firms should get behind the town’s football club.

This year Worksop Town have rebranded their membership scheme the ‘1861 Club’ - a reference to the year the club is believed to have been established.

It costs £100 for a membership, which includes a season ticket for their home league games at Sandy Lane.

This year there is a twist, however – your £100 has to be accompanied by a minimum donation of £25 to a ‘ground fund.’

For the first time since Worksop were kicked off Sandy Lane in 2008, without ever being told why, the club and its volunteers are taking the bull by the horns, taking matters into their own hands and starting to put together a pot of money that will one day, hopefully, secure a home of their own.

Tigers might have their hand out again, but they don’t want to – they want to be masters of their own destiny.

And this 1861 Club is a concerted effort to gather the necessary capital in order to become self sufficient, to stop paying rent and start earning money from gate receipts, refreshments, facility hire and all the other trappings of owning a ground, money that will mean no more bail outs, no more hand outs.

What’s more, the hand that Worksop Town are extending to the local community is not empty.

Local firms who get behind the club will gain access to publicity and good PR in the eyes of a large fanbase – over 400 people attend Worksop games at Sandy Lane, but hundreds more follow their progress.

Stories about Worksop Town, the words of manager Mark Shaw gather lots of attention – evidenced by the impressive numbers of hits attracted to the Worksop Guardian website each and every week.

People care about Worksop Town, so if you get involved, people will – by association – care about you too.

Those who have come to the fore and helped the cause will not be forgotten. If there’s one thing Worksop Town fans are particularly reknowned for it’s the longevity of their memories.

Lee Westwood’s logo on the front of the Tigers shirts has guaranteed a place in the supporters’ hearts for the former world number one, for years to come. That act will be remembered by history.

Companies want to be associated with sporting success.

True, Worksop Town haven’t won anything this year, but they’ve been involved in a title race for three straight seasons, finishing in the top four each time.

There are genuine promotion aspirations held by the people who run and manage the club.

They have an academy that hopes to churn out youngsters who can feature for the first team, and community outreach schemes that promote the club’s branding to the town’s schoolkids – the next generation of fans.

A few weeks ago I stated that Worksop were merely existing and I will stand by that statement until such a time as they own their own ground.

But it’s enough of an existence to offer something back to the local community, if that local community values the football club and acts accordingly.

In the days and weeks after Mr Clark pulled his funding, in May 2014, I was surprised at how easily the business contacts in my phone parted with cash to donate to the then-named Team500 Club.

It certainly wasn’t a struggle to find a shirt sponsor, just a few calls and emails.

That said to me that local industry recognises the importance of local sport.

And it gives me confidence that this summer, Worksop and the surrounding villages will prove they still want this club to survive.

By backing the 1861 Club you will be helping to build a future that needs no hand outs, no ‘save our club’ campaigns.

The club’s 155-year history is currently the subject of a supporter-led research project.

I hope that in another 155 years it is noted that 2016 was the starting point for the most secure period in Worksop Town’s existence.