It was a very proud moment for me when I was elected to become the interim chairman of the IFCSG following the resignation of Paul Skillington. Paul did a tremendous amount of work for the Group and I have no doubt that he would still be carrying on with the superb job he was doing had it not been for the terrible cycling accident he had last year.
Anyone who knows me knows how passionate I am about the Supporters Group and Ilkeston FC. After all, the IFCSG was formed as a result of a meeting I arranged in January 2011 and I have been heavily involved with the Group ever since.
The IFCSG is vitally important to the health and prosperity of football in our town. Some people have called our role and existence into question in the recent past and I would like to take the opportunity to explain and reaffirm why we are here and what we are trying to achieve.
Firstly, we are trying to promote our football club in a positive fashion. This can only help in trying to attract new faces to the New Manor Ground and they can only be impressed by the set-up at the club. They will also be impressed by you – our fantastic fans – who are passionate, vocal but extremely welcoming and friendly both to local fans and visitors alike. Promoting the club can be in various guises but word of mouth to neighbours, family, friends and work colleagues can be just as effective as putting up fixture posters around the town centre. A number of our supporters are relatively new to the New Manor Ground but they are well and truly hooked!
In return we always try our utmost to secure discounts and offers from the football club as a reward for our members. This benefits the club as well because it guarantees them a hardcore support which follows the club home and away through rain and shine. Our away following has been widely praised throughout non-League football for their behaviour, passion and sheer numbers, and the IFCSG continues to offer fantastic value coach to travel to our away games for the members.
The IFCSG is also in regular contact with the football club and meets with the owners on a regular basis to discuss matters relating to both parties. In addition, our mutual respect and understanding means that we can work closely together for the good of the club. Regular fans forums are held which enables members and supporters to ask questions directly to the owners on any burning issues.
However, the IFCSG has one other role to fill and one that I am most passionate about. When Ilkeston Town was liquidated in 2010 it was a devastating time for supporters and something like that must never be allowed to happen again for future generations. The IFCSG is slowly but surely accruing funds for the future. One day, it could well be that the owners need to pull out; perhaps Ilkeston FC may find itself in unforeseen financial difficulties. The IFCSG needs to be able to be in a position to step in and ensure that the club is able to continue, either permanently or until a suitable buyer is found. For this reason alone we need as many members as possible now and I implore any fan who cares about the long term future of Ilkeston football to join the IFCSG.
Finally, we have our next 2013 AGM due in May and all members will be invited to attend. Until then you can count on me giving the best that I can to the IFCSG in my role as chairman. And if you have anything to ask, please don’t hesitate to pull me to one side at the NMG.
Up the Robins!