Well my visit to Radcliffe Borough was eventful to say the least. However, that story is in a different blog and this one is to reflect on the fantastic hospitality and welcome we received from all at Radcliffe Borough.
After driving through the torrential downpours and hearing another local game in Ramsbottom had been called off, upon arriving i was fearful the game at Radcliffe might also fall the same way. The nets still hadn’t been put up and some areas of the pitch had standing water.
However any fears over a postponement were soon cast aside as the nets were erected and the sun appeared over Stainton Park, albeit only briefly. With being early we headed to the bar area and opted to watch the second half of Chelsea v Arsenal, and warm up with a cup of tea. With that over we headed out as the 2 teams were warming up.
With the heavens opening again not long before kick off, i opted against a lap of the ground to take pictures and decided to take shelter in the stand behind the goal. Once the teams were out not long after it typically proved to be a bad choice. 33 minutes into the game and Lancaster were 4-0 up. Each goal scored at the other end of the ground where there was no shelter and i wimped out of going to. Lesson learned for future reference, brave the elements.
Halftime and with Radcliffe 4-0 down we headed for a bit of warmth, a burger and a brew. It also gave me 10 minutes to have a look through the interesting match programme at Radcliffe.
Back to the game and as expected the game is all but over, Lancaster concede one to spoil an otherwise impressive performance as Bevan Bewery slots home late in the game, to leave the final score 4-1 to the Dolly birds. After the game we head behind the scenes and look at an impressive set up there at Radcliffe. Here’s a fantastic insight to a very good club.
Behind the scenes
The monthly matchday magazine replaced the usual standard match programme and the decision for this was taken to save valuable cost and time. It was explained that for a club the size of Radcliffe that averages 120 fans to order a minimum 100 per game was not cost effective especially with the likelihood of 2 or even 3 games in a week, the club were continually being left out of pocket and the quality of articles were declining with the lack of help to produce one. Also with many games being called off in the winter, programmes were going to waste and no one was buying a programme that was dated many months ago. The decision to produce a monthly magazine to be sold at games has proven a huge success. The club now break even and sometimes gain a small profit on the sales of magazine for which they order 250 per month. Any left over go to businesses and prospective sponsors and presents a professional image of the club.
The club have a successful community scheme with has been running since 1996. The scheme is the heartbeat of the community and since 1996 each child in Radcliffe has been connected to the club in one way or another and the scheme currently runs Soccer Schools, In school coaching and after school clubs in all 9 primary schools, soccer centres on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings and a huge Junior Tournament on the main pitch which has been running since 1998.
The scheme is based at the club’s Stainton Park ground with it’s own two 3G six a side courts which have been up and running since 1996 and redveloped in 2008. Next to the courts is the sports complex which houses 5 dressing rooms, 2 offices and a sports injury clinic/gym run by former Manchester City physio Ronnie Evans who has been at the club since 2002.
The main clubhouse has been spilt into two sections, the main function room which is hired for all kinds of parties and the Legends Lounge which was developed in 2011 and is open 6 days a week with Sky and BT. It is in this Legends Lounge that you get a feel of what this small club has achieved especially in the last 20 years under the guidance of Bernard Manning Jnr and Kevin Glendon.
At the back of the bar there is an impressive collage of paper cuttings and photo’s highlighting the success the club has had over the last 20 years. Here you see photo’s of the club winning the league (1997) and winning the play-offs (2003) at this level as well as their FA Cup run in 2001 when they faced York City in the first round and many cup wins but it is the many pictures of players the club has developed that i sense the club has more pride in with no more than 8 players being developed and sold by Kevin Glendon for £5,000 or more (there are many more who have been sold for less). These players i have been told are being paraded in the corridor that leads to the Legends Lounge and there is the first stage of players being highlighted on the walls with Jody Banim (£22k to Shrewsbury), Steve Foster (£5k to AFC Telford United), Simon Carden (£5k to Accrington Stanley) and the most impressive of all Craig Dawson (£75k to Rochdale) who now plays for West Bromich Albion and came to the club as a raw 17 year old midfielder and left the club as a promising 19 year old defender who has gone on to become a Premier League player and England U21 international. The other 4 players are currently being produced at the printers and the corridor will soon be complete with an impressive sight of achievements.
You may add all those fees up together and think the club is rolling in the money but it couldn’t be further from the truth, i was told that all the money ever recieved has always gone back into the club to either keep it running or to develop the club to make more money such as the Legends Lounge, none of it goes to playing side and that is evident by their league position this season and for the last 5 seasons.
The club may have two 3G pitches, a bar open 6 days a week and a community scheme but all of this allows the club to be self sufficent to provide one of the smallest wage bills in the league but they do not rely on anyone. Where as some clubs open their ground for matchday’s only, Stainton Park is open 7 days a week and because of this the bills for water, gas and electricity plus the wages to help run the place will eat into the money that people think they make.
Other sights on the wall include the time Paul Gascoigne played in a pre-season friendly and in 2007 when they played in a friendly against United at Carrington against a team that included Rooney, Ronaldo, Van Nistlerooy, Keane and Giggs, an impressive sight for such a small non-league club.
Link to the full set of photos on my Facebook profile.