Bullets' new clubhouse plan to ease pressure on parking
As non-league football continues in the uncertain times of covid, it has not stopped Alsager Town FC from mapping out its ongoing plans to turn the Wood Park outfit into a club for the community.
Having recently announced its intention to promote the Bullets more in Alsager, Town has also outlined proposals to build a new clubhouse and create more parking spaces within the stadium, and it has launched a supporters club so fans can have more of a connection with the players and backroom staff.
Due to its location, residents living near Wood Park can be left without a parking space outside their homes on match day as parking facilities are so limited within the ground.
As a result there are plans to demolish the existing clubhouse, which overlooks the pitch and rebuild it pitch side. A car park would then be built where the clubhouse now stands.
Ash McKenna, Town's voluntary commercial manager, said: “Back in the 1960s when the club was founded, most of the people who came down on match day were local but the way the game is played now we are getting people coming from further away who need to travel in.
“We want to create more parking space within the ground to free up space outside our neighbours' homes. At the moment we can't control where people park but ask them to respect Wood Park's neighbours. We can understand why they get frustrated when people park outside their homes.”
He added: “There are up to 30 parking spaces available within the Wood Park Stadium at the moment but building more where the existing clubhouse is would increase parking capacity to up to 60 spaces.”
Mr McKenna said the club, which plays in North West Counties League Division One South, also hopes to work with Alsager Town Council and Cheshire East in the future to see whether they can help in terms of securing further car parking space for the club.
“Our plans would also give us a chance to improve the clubhouse facilities,” he explained.
“The clubhouse as it is does its job and keeps people dry, but it's basic.
“We would want the new clubhouse to be for community use, which people could book for birthday and anniversary celebrations.”
As the Bullets move forward to build links with fans and the Alsager community, Mr McKenna has now launched a supporters' club at Wood Park, one of the reasons being to “build bridges” with the older supporters who do not go down to watch so much any more.
“I want supporters to work with the club and build those bridges back so we can take Alsager Town forward together,” he said. “If fans aren't happy with something we are doing I want them to let us know and they can speak to us if there is some aspect of the club they believe could be improved.”
One of the supporters' club aims will be to form a singing section for fans at Wood Park on match day to boost the atmosphere.
Mr McKenna believes that with that level of vocal support Town could have beaten Vauxhall Motors, who won 1-0 at Wood Park last Tuesday.
“There were some very bad refereeing decisions in that game that went against us anyway, but had we had the right atmosphere with the fans cheering us on and I reckon we could have won. On our day we can match anyone in the league.”
As far as crowd attendance goes Mr McKenna believes more fans are coming to watch this season compared to the last campaign, despite covid restrictions.
“Our average attendance last season was 83 but even after only a few games this season spectator numbers are on the increase, we are averaging 94 a game so far.”
The club is in discussions with a marketing company, which could become partners with the Bullets with a view to secure sponsorship deals.
A finance company has also offered support with fundraising efforts in the community.
Mr McKenna said: “It knows former Stoke City players who could be invited in as guests at sportspeople’s dinners at the club. The firm is also in discussion with Port Vale about meet and greet events.”
Alsager Town also hopes to pencil in a pre-season friendly against the Vale at Wood Park next year.
The club also hopes to cash-in on merchandise revenue. Alsager Town FC mugs are already available to purchase via the club's Facebook page or online at theterracextore.com
Mr McKenna said Town was keen to become involved in community projects, including supporting Alsager Food Bank.
On certain match days, fans will been encouraged to bring along items of food such as tinned products to drop in a bucket left at the ground entrance, which will be passed on to the foodbank.
“We want to help people experiencing hard times, not least because of covid. We want to do more to support the community of Alsager,” said Mr McKenna.
Fund-raisers are also planned for individuals who have fallen on hard times or who are in ill health.
The club will be collecting for young people aged 16-25 who, due to covid, maybe living far away from family this Christmas or do not have many close family members to be with.
“We are appealing for fans coming to the match to donate chocolates, smellies, gift cards or bags of crisps so that young people in need will have something at Christmas, said Mr McKenna.
He added: “The club has been going for 50-60 years and we have to become a family and community-orientated club if we are to survive for another 50-60 years.”
• Are there any budding football writers out there? Alsager Town is looking for someone to write regular match reports for the Bullets, who would also be able to watch games for free. Anyone interested should give Mr McKenna a call on 07947 877686.