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Club News

Reflections From The Board

25 April 2016

Club News

Reflections From The Board

25 April 2016

Well, what a remarkable and memorable twelve months ! This time last year the overwhelming feeling was one of disappointment after a season that never really took off. Having finished as runners-up in 2014 we had gone into the season full of optimism but, for one reason or another, we didn't quite click. The point at which things changed can be traced back to that evening in early Spring last year when we all gathered in the Times Square Lounge to announce three new initiatives. The first announcement was the formation of the new Sutton United Academy. That has rather flown under the radar given everything else that has been going on but it has gone from strength to strength under the guidance of ex-U Marvin Williams and will play an increasingly important part in the life of the club in future years. The second initiative was the decision to install a 3G pitch. It was touch and go to squeeze the work in between the planning decision and the start of the new season but Slatters did an outstanding job, not only to meet the deadline but to give us a surface that has been widely praised as the best 3G surface around. Others will surpass us, of course - that's the nature of technology - but we have a fantastic surface that should serve us well for years to come and has played its part in a season full of exciting football. This pitch has also allowed us to provide a home for Sutton Common Rovers FC and AFC Wimbledon Ladies, with a cornucopia of other events also taking place from charity matches and veterans' walking football to kids' starter sessions. The icing on the cake was being awarded the international match between England C and Slovakia under-21s this June. That promises to be a great day to round off the season and bring another set of memories to treasure. Our third initiative to be announced was perhaps the biggest gamble but also the most important step we took, to offer season tickets at greatly reduced prices in order to attract a greater number of regular supporters. We were delighted to sell so many tickets, a factor of four more than the previous year, but of course the question would be what effect selling tickets so much below the equivalent match day admission prices would have on total revenue. We were pleased to see that the result was all we had hoped for, the total league match income was actually higher than for 2014/15, and that's before our bumper gate against Ebbsfleet. Our average gate in the league was 1,043. The directors therefore took little time in agreeing to put a similar scheme in place for next season and sales for 2016/17 have already sailed past this year's figure. Ticket sales and attendances, of course, owe more than a little to events on the field. We started slowly, as is our habit, playing good football but not always getting the results we thought we deserved. We had a good little run in the FA Cup, unluckily losing at Aldershot in the final qualifying round, but after losing at home to Hayes & Yeading we found ourselves 8th in the league, 14 points behind leaders Ebbsfleet having each played 16 games. The manager made some minor changes to the team and we went on a little unbeaten run, edging into the play-off places. That unbeaten run then extended beyond Christmas and our place in the top five began to look a bit more assured. A reprieve in the FA Trophy saw us enjoy our best run in that competition for several years before being knocked out by a good Bognor side but that was maybe a blessing in disguise. Our unbeaten league run had continued but we still found ourselves 12 points behind Ebbsfleet, albeit with games in hand because of our involvement in the Trophy. Gradually the gap narrowed as games in hand were turned into points on the board and we went into a vital game at Maidstone United, the 2nd leg of the "3G Derby", in good form and turned in an excellent display to move above our hosts into second place. Our second match in a matter of weeks in front of a crowd in excess of 3,000 people then saw us beat Ebbbsfleet 2-0 at The Lane to move three points clear at the top of the table. And so to the final home game, against Chelmsford City, knowing that a single point would see us clinch the league title. A composed 2-0 win, with more than a little excellent one-touch football, was followed by the presentation of the trophy, celebrations on the pitch and a non-stop party evening. here may still be one league match left to play but work has already begun on planning for the new challenges we will face on and off the field next season. One of the challenges we will face will be around resourcing, we are already blessed with more wonderful volunteers than most other clubs but we need more ! So, if you you think you can help next season, in any way, please email davef@suttonunited.net So, many congratulations to Paul and his management team and all of the players on a magnificent season and for winning what must be considered the biggest trophy in the club's history. Of course, this club is about so much more than the first eleven and we must also congratulate James Bracken and his youth team for again winning the Ryman Youth League Central Division and the Surrey U-18 Midweek Cup and also Steve King for the highly successful inaugural season of the Community Team, beating both Arsenal and Chelsea. We also enjoyed considerable success with our junior boys' and girls' teams. Well done to everybody involved this season, from Paul Doswell to the car-park stewards. #InItTogether Bruce Elliott and Dave Farebrother


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