This week Amber Lane caught up with the Chairman of the Board, Dave Farebrother.
AMBER: To start, can you clarify why Sutton United has two chairmen?
DAVE: Well, the easiest way to think of it is to compare us to a company quoted on the FTSE100, although we are obviously much smaller. The club is wholly owned by Sutton United FC Ltd and the company's board of directors looks after the interests of our shareholders. So, the board has more of a focus on the long-term future of the club. We are accountable for the governance of the club and approve major items of expenditure and we appoint the chairman of the club and the 1st team manager. Bruce is like the CEO of a plc, he makes the decisions and runs the day to day business of the football club and has the direct relationship with the manager, which is obviously the key relationship at any football club.
AMBER: Are there disagreements?
DAVE: Oh, all the time! But the committee, the directors, we are all supporters. Lee and Mick played for the club as well, and we all want what's best for the club. We often disagree about things but once we reach a decision everyone gets behind it.
AMBER: What is Dominic Feltham's role?
DAVE: Dominic was a great player here. He is also a highly qualified and very astute businessman - the "real-life" CEO of a major company - and it made perfect sense to me try to take advantage of his business acumen. He is a very busy man but acts as Special Adviser to the board and provides an analytical viewpoint that benefits from slightly more distance than the rest of us. He has been particularly helpful with regards to the 3G pitch project.
AMBER: Two new directors were brought in last year, what was the thinking behind that?
DAVE: Well, firstly, we needed people to look at specific roles. We are all volunteers, most of us have full-time jobs elsewhere and there are limits to how much we can do. Mick is currently looking at the community pavilion project and Pat was invited to review and manage our on-line presence. Given the way the season panned out, that turns out to have been perfect timing! And, of course, the board has to change over time, but it's evolution not revolution. The football club has only had four chairmen in over sixty years: Andrew Letts, Peter Molloy, Dave Hermitage and now Bruce. I think that level of stability helps give this club its character.
AMBER: How did you first get involved?
DAVE: A schoolfriend was already a supporter and nagged me to tag along, I think I saw my first game in April 1968 and I was instantly hooked. By the 1969/70 season my dad and I were going to most games home and away.
AMBER: This season will be long-remembered for the FA Cup run, but you are now in your fiftieth year of supporting the U's. Not counting the famous FA Cup ties, what would be your five favourite matches in that time?
DAVE: Only five! Well, I'd say away to Maidstone last year. The team played magnificently, it was a great occasion in front of a big crowd and that was the night that convinced me we would win the league. It reminded me of a 6-0 win at Bishop's Stortford some thirty years ago that also convinced me we'd be champions that year. Next I'd pick at home to Bangor, when we won 4-1 in the FA Trophy semi-final. Winning the Anglo-Italian Cup in Chieti, that was probably the day we first sensed that we had a special group of players that had a certain spirit about them. Tranmere this year, it seems so recent that we were trekking around the Ryman League in Dos's first season here and Prenton Park emphasised how far we had come. The fifth one? Difficult choice. I almost went for Spennymoor in the Amateur Cup but I'll go for the 1970 Surrey Senior Cup Final replay, when we beat Walton & Hersham 4-0. It was the first trophy I saw us win.
AMBER: To finish, what can you tell everyone about the work going on at the ground this summer?
DAVE: Well, the new LED floodlights are in place and I'm pleased to say that the old lights will be put to good use by Sutton & Epsom Rugby Club. We've also put up the frame for the new digital screen but the biggest project underway is the reconfiguration of the dressing rooms. The biggest clue there is the large, temporary structure in the car-park that provides us with changing facilities during the summer but will also stay in place until, hopefully, the new community pavilion is built next year. That's not certain yet but we are hopeful. We are enlarging the existing changing rooms and giving them a facelift, with new showers, a new physio room and even an office for Dos. We are also replacing the old gas boiler with modern heat pumps. The toilets at the end of the stand have gone and we will be putting a new block in place just across the alley and will add a turnstile to that side gate. At first glance not much will have changed, the character of the ground will not be any different but these changes will make a significant difference. There are other projects in the pipeline but we are still considering our options.