Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The Football League Awards

This Sunday the winners of The Football League Awards 2011 will be announced.

I know this, as I was invited to help them decide which Football League clubs should be short-listed for one of their prestigious awards.

Due to the last minute pull out of Floella Benjamin, or similar, The Football League were short of a judge for their Family Club of the Year award deliberations.

An invite to the judging panel duly came my way, one I quickly accepted, and I soon found myself presiding over which of the country's Football League clubs makes the best effort when it comes to making watching football a great family affair.

This is a subject of great interest to me. As a football fan, and I mean football fan, not the razzmatazz and perceived celebrity of the game's megastars, I was very interested to see what league clubs – including the one I support – were doing to encourage families to enjoy the experience of being football fans.

Like all other forms of entertainment, football has to recognise that it has competition. And not necessarily in the form of other sports.

The Football League clearly gets this as an organisation, and thus likes to recognise the efforts of its clubs in this area.

Going to watch football can be a brilliant experience for families. Especially now. The facilities today are greater than they have ever been, and clubs countrywide are clearly making an effort to make sure the experience is as enjoyable, economical, accessible and as engaging as it can be for families.

There were many great entries for this award, and it was very difficult to narrow them down to a short-list, but these are who we narrowed it down to:

Cardiff City

Dagenham & Redbridge

Huddersfield Town

Oxford United


Shrewsbury Town

If you've not considered taking your family to a game of football at your local Football League club you really should. They all have excellent websites, full of information, and you really should go and check them out.

Following a side as a family is great, as is making friends with people who are doing the same. Even when clubs are not doing well on the pitch the togetherness of fans and community is fantastic.

Going on your first away day, or any away day, can be a brilliant day out – even when ending in defeat.

I know football is not for everyone. And I as much as anybody am getting completely turned off by the glamour of the 'big teams', the Premier League and televised football in general. But going to a game, a good game, supporting a club close to you, that in turn are doing their bit to support you and your community, is something many can enjoy.

So, do you support your local footie club?