Adrian "AB" Barry was recently announced as the club's new Vice-Chairman and sat down with Amber Lane last week to talk about some of the areas he is involved in.
AMBER: You represent the Supporters' Trust on the Board of SUFC Ltd but you are probably best known for two things, Strikers Are Key and the Season Ticket Scheme. You must have been delighted with the level of season ticket sales last season?
AB: Really delighted. It was so exciting to see the numbers steadily increase as the start of last season approached and we were thrilled to sell the 1,000th ticket during the half-time interval in the first League match v Solihull Moors on 6th Aug. Then of course we had the boost of the amazing FA Cup run which attracted another 300-odd half-season ticket sales. It's fair to say that our superb team has presented our sales effort with a hugely attractive product and made the job so much easier! I must also say that I might be the "front man" of this initiative but full respect and thanks go to Jenny Graham for her extraordinary organisation and Tony Dunmore for his foot-slogging; they do the "real" work.
AMBER: You set an ambitious target of 2,000 Season Ticket sales for the next campaign and have already reached a total approaching 1,300. What do you have planned to keep the sales figure climbing?
AB: You've got to aim high! When you consider that we only had 120-130 season ticket holders a few seasons ago, you can see the strides that have been made. Of course our unbelievable-value prices have attracted the demand - our real challenge is to reach new people. Encouragingly, nearly 20% of current sales are from new season ticket holders and equally encouraging is the high number of youngsters buying for 2017/18; youngsters who will hopefully be with us for a very long time. Many people hold back from buying until nearer the start of the season and although I'm delighted with the strong base we've got, we shall be embarking on a full campaign at key timelines over the summer including when the fixtures are released and during pre-season friendlies.We will also be canvassing in the heartland of the Borough with leaflets and stalls and presentations and will be really active digitally on a variety of social media platforms at key times. Witness the serious inroads we have made on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, the new website et al...
AMBER: Strikers Are Key has been a big success, not only as a fundraiser but as a focal point in the bar after Saturday games. You are running it again next season?
AB: I don't think we've found anyone else mad enough to take it on so I guess so! It seems to have taken on its own very surreal existence - it's always fun to watch the looks of incredulity on visiting fans' faces who experience it for the first time and the funny thing is how we all now view it as quite normal! Thank you to everyone involved for supporting it... and for putting up with the... how shall I put it... eccentricity of it all!
AMBER: So, I'm sure all SAK members would like to know... what do you take to stop yourself from losing your voice?
AB: Some kind soul usually takes pity on me and provides me with the necessary lubrication in the form of a pint of fine ale. SAK is particularly good fun when we win - there have been one or two occasions when the old vocal chords have taken a bit of a hammering and the Monday morning Sales Meetings at work have been perforce foreshortened!
AMBER: You have been to most away games this season, you seem like you have enjoyed every minute?
AB: You can say that again! How can you tire of watching the team you've supported for over 45 years playing and competing so equally at places like Tranmere, Wrexham, York, Lincoln Chester, etc etc ? I missed two away games last season (which I wasn't pleased about!) - going away with the Sutton family and supporting our team is just great, great fun.
AMBER: What would you say to anyone who is thinking of buying a season ticket for next year or pehaps hasn't even been to watch the U's before?
AB: One of the most gratifying aspects of the last couple of seasons is the number of people who are new to watching the U's and who have come up to me and, unsolicited, say how much they have enjoyed joining the Sutton family, how much they have felt welcomed and part of the club....and how very pleasantly surprised they have been by the quality of the football our team plays. Our season ticket offer remains simply extraordinary value whatever your age - if you're a teenager you can watch the team for just £1 a game! Don't forget the low, low prices admit you to all 23 home League games AND home pre-season friendlies AND guarantee you a ticket if we hit the FA Cup jackpot again. If you haven't been before, come along and give us a try; you'll be hooked before you know it!
AMBER: What are you looking forward to about next season?
AB: Dos has assembled a very exciting squad for next season and everyone is looking forward to the new season already! We must continue to develop and grow on and off the pitch and cement our position in non-League's top flight and establish GGL as the fulcrum of leisure provision in the Borough. I'll be kicking and heading every ball as always....and hopefully celebrating the 2,000th season ticket sale! This team deserves to be watched by that number of people every game.
AMBER: And finally, congratulations! You were recently named as the club's new Vice-Chairman. How do you see that affecting your role within the club?
AB: One of the things I really love about our club is the sense of togetherness pervading right across it on and off the pitch; from the Boardroom and Management Committee, indeed all our wonderful volunteers, through to the players and management team, and of course to our brilliant fans on the terraces and in the stands. Everyone works so hard and contributes how they can, whenever they can, with one common goal in mind – to help Sutton United FC be the very best it can be.
We all have our different roles and areas of expertise and what everyone must know is that everyone on our Board and on our Committees is, first and foremost, a Sutton United fan, whose job is to make decisions with the best interests of the club we all love always being the driver. The passion for, and sense of commitment to, Sutton United throughout the club is wonderful to see. As we have progressed up the leagues in the last few seasons and turned our stadium into a real hub for the local community, the “things to do” list has increased apace! Now, we've got to make sure we are set up in a way which enables us to continue to evolve and develop, such that our great club can continue to progress on and off the pitch.
We have got the best Chairman and the best Manager you could wish for. Supporting them, contributing in whatever way I can, and assisting in the pulling together of all the various strands and areas of activity in the club is how I see this role….plus of course “playing” the accordion every other week and being generally obsessed with spreading the word about SUFC, ticket sales and season ticket sales in particular. That will never change!