Thursday, 21 April 2016

Saffron BS members go football club walkabout

The Weston Homes Community Stadium, home of Colchester Utd FC - venue for the Saffron BS annual meeting

A BEHIND- the-scenes tour of Colchester United FC was laid on for Saffron BS members prior to the annual meeting.

It was hosted by former player David Gregory (46) who made 226 appearance for the club between 1995 and 2002, famously  helping the Us to their first promotion in 22 years in 1998 when he scored the only goal (a penalty) in a Third Division Play off final v Torquay Utd.

The 40 or so members who joined him  had the chance to step out on the pitch and visit one of the hospitality suites, the laundry room and both  the home and away dressing rooms where there are posters reminding players of  risks associated with taking illicit or unapproved substances.

The away dressing room has been deliberated painted in a gloomy  shade of grey-brown - an initiative introduced by former manager Paul Lambert (now at Blackburn Rovers) with the aim of lowering the pre-match spirits of the Us' opponents. Literally one of the 'dark' arts now practised in professional football.

Members heard that there is not usually a large police presence for home matches  - except for visits by clubs such as Millwall and Cardiff whose fans are not necessarily noted for their good behaviour.

At the AGM,  chairman Geoffrey Dunn struck an upbeat note, and there were confident and enlightening presentations from chief executive Colin Field  plus senior colleagues Sarah Howe and Darren Garner.

In reply to a question from a member, the chairman said there were no plans for the society to return to London following the  closure of the Stratford branch.

The new Colchester branch was performing well, but, though opportunities would be considered,  there were no plans to open further branches.

With a staff of just 175,  the society is not geared up for any major expansion beyond its Essex and Suffolk heartland - so, no, it won't be looking to acquire the Nationwide!

The meeting also heard a forceful  presentation from Lord Matthew Taylor, the former Liberal-Democrat MP for Truro, who outlined his vision for garden villages as a planning alternative to encouraging ever-increasing and often unattractive housing development on the greenfield perimeters of towns such as Colchester.

A warning on the perils of cannabis is posted  in the treatment suite in the home dressing room

A similar alert on the risk of taking suspect supplements

Don't be a puppet on a string - this poster reminds players not to accept inducements

Former Colchester Utd ace David Gregory (left) hosted the walkabout. After a long career, cut short by a foot injury sustained in a match against Port Vale, he now oversees Press and other publicity for the club. He also does sports commentary work for BBC Radio Essex.
Nice and spacious  - inside the home changing room
Anyone remember to bring their football boots? Saffron members get the chance to step out on to the pitch.

Top table - from left chairman Geoffrey Dunn, secretary Richard Barrett, chief executive Colin Field,chief customer  officer Sarah Howe and chief financial officer Darren Garner. The non-executive directors were seated in the front row with members, but a place may be found for them on top table at next year's AGM after a  member suggested this would be more appropriate in a "customer-facing" society.

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