Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Football League Family Club of the Year

This year I’m helping the Football League decide which of its 72 members deserves to be crowned their Family Club of the Year.

I’ll be part of a judging panel that will evaluate entries from football clubs of all three tiers of the Football League, and as well as recognising divisional winners, will look whose doing the best job of providing a quality experience for families.

Whilst plaudits and prestige are rightly awarded for the performance of football teams on the pitch, the Football League has recognised the importance of rewarding the efforts that go on off the pitch.

Families, and the attendance there of, are of vital importance to all Football League clubs in securing their long-term futures.  Without a future generation of supporters, who make a genuine difference and impact at any club, teams will struggle to compete and, possibly, even exist.


I love supporting one of my local teams, and I love it even more now that my son comes to games with me.

We actually generally go as a three-generation family, as it’s usually Max sandwiched by his dad and granddad at Walsall games.

I’m proud of how easy my club, The Mighty Saddlers, have made it for youngsters to come to games.  They were the first club in the country to introduce the concept of free football for all under-18s.

And the access they give to their players is second to none.  Fans regularly interact with them, as it is so clearly drilled that we are a community club that cares about its support.

Walsall Player, Romaine Sawyers with Max (mini-Tommy Bradshaw)


This will be my third time on the judging panel of the Football League Awards, and there have been many highlights, including seeing Portsmouth, despite their financial trouble, crowned Family Club of the Year in 2012.

Some of their initiatives were brilliant, and simply required effort rather than cash, as they were working on a zero budget basis.  My favourite was having an end of season camp out on their pitch.  Families were invited to play games, and set up a tent for a night out camping on the famous Fratton Park pitch at the end of the regular season.

Huddersfield Town have always impressed with their consistent work for families.  They created their own version of football cards for children as well as run the excellent Huddersfield Town XI vs 200 Kids match annually.

But initiatives don’t have to be huge.  In fact, when we visited Carlisle United last Easter, they were giving away a free single sweet to children coming through the away turnstiles.  Which led to one of my friend’s little girls ask if we could come every week!


I’m looking forward to seeing what clubs have come up with this year, and what they are offering to attract more local families to games.

Would also be great if you could share any good or bad experiences you’ve had with your local Football League team.

To help us decide who deserves the accolade this season.

Drop us a line, leave a comment, Tweet or visit my Facebook page to tell me more about your experience as a family visiting the football.