This weekend, we are celebrating the unsung heroes who keep the club ticking over – the volunteers.

Yesterday’s article, which you can read here, covered some of the committee members and youth coaches who help out around the club. Today we are continuing the series as we feature another group of volunteers who you might not have seen.

Our Wednesday Group, led by longstanding and well-known HFC fan Pete Tanner, have undertaken numerous activities since we moved into The Camping World Community Stadium, in order to keep the ground spick and span and also to improve our facilities.

One major development they have completed is the construction of a pedestrian footbridge over the stream in the access lane to the ground. By completing this task with volunteer (but very skilled) labour, the Wednesday Group saved the club money and created a new feature which helps to keep supporters safe as they arrive and leave the ground.

Members of the Wednesday Volunteers Group putting together the new footbridge in September 2020

 

Pete said: “It all started because Wednesday was the only day that Crawley weren’t training, so Terry Dickinson and Pete Little could get in to work on the pitch, and I could turn power off without disrupting anyone.

“After the first lockdown ended last year, it seemed a good day to let others in as well; others simply craved somewhere to go and have a purpose, and that is where it started.

He continued: “Al Morris and I did building maintenance and installation work, while others painted anything that needed sprucing up. Since then, we have completed a long list of tasks: clearing blocked drains, installing power for the drinks bars, fitted out the tea-hut, installed a referee call system, added lighting in various places and yards and yards of shelving!

“More recently, we have installed all of the club’s COVID equipment, painted markings and created more signage, built a new beer store, and loads of other items that I have probably forgotten!

“The major volunteer project was of course the footbridge, which was a huge team effort, with a large team of volunteers and supporters.”

Asked why he volunteers, Pete said: “At Queen Street we were fighting fires, keeping it going till the bitter end. Hop Oast is different. It is ours and we want to keep it in a good state and improve on it.

“People feel a huge sense of belonging and pride in our facility and that pride goes down to the smallest of things from litter to dirty windows. We all want the facility to be one we are so proud of.

“In addition to all this, the people are just the best. No matter what they are there for, director, committee or volunteer, there are no airs and graces, and everyone is equal with the same common aim.”

The newly-installed footbridge

In this final review of club volunteers, we also want to mention the Board of Directors. All of them are volunteers and donate their time and skills to ensure that the club continues to be sustainable and successful.

In the past, the board has been responsible for the delivery of the new ground and ensuring the club survived whilst we were homeless. The move to Hop Oast has seen new challenges and a number of new faces: two of them are Sam Borrett and Sean Bravery.

Sam told us: “I first saw a Hornets match in 2006/7 after seeing a free ticket in the local newspaper. I attended with my dad, and we had such a great first experience that we both became season ticket holders.

“After a few seasons I began to get involved in matchday activities from selling programmes and raffle tickets to stewarding. The club has been through a lot in the past ten years, and being there, seeing the multiple campaigns to achieve the facilities we now have, meant that when I was invited to join the board I agreed so that I could help the club build on those foundations.

“In my first year as a director we have dealt with such a diverse range of matters; it keeps you fresh and excited. I believe this club has an exciting future with so much potential.”

Sean added: “I have been involved with the club since the late 90s as a committee member, and then chair of the supporters club. I have helped out behind the bar, visited local businesses to drum up sponsorship, arranged fundraising activities, community interaction and social events and anything else I could do to help out.

“In 2015 I was asked to re-join the committee as Chairman; it was an honour to be asked and I accepted without hesitation. The committee have always been a hardworking group of people and I looked forward to working with them again.”

“Then, last year I was asked to join the Board. I knew I could handle the finance side without too much trouble, but I also knew that I had a vision of where I thought the club could grow.

“I have never been one to simply ‘talk the talk’ – if I see an opportunity for me to help change things, I am the first to put my hand up and step forward.”

He continued: “The biggest surprise so far? Well walking into a pandemic, I suppose! There has not been a month since I joined the board when COVID has not affected us.

“But the Board are a group of people who all have the club’s interests at heart. It has been so satisfying to see how we have all pulled together – board, committee, supporters, and sponsors to make sure we will survive what is near-enough a twelve-month lockdown.

“I am pleased to see the addition of some great people on the committee, who are bringing time, energy and skills to help us grow. It has also been good to see the handful of people, who have no connection with the committee, but who have heard about our volunteering prowess and have joined, in the last year, as matchday volunteers. It has been a pleasure to give my time to our great club.”

Club chairman, Kevin Borrett said: “I want to offer huge thanks to all our volunteers, whatever their role in the club.

“Without their commitment and devotion, we simply wouldn’t have a Club, with teams at all ages, and certainly wouldn’t have the fantastic facilities that we now enjoy.

“They really are the lifeblood of the club and I look forward to welcoming all of them back to Hop Oast, once lockdown is lifted.”

Whatever their role, we want to recognise all our volunteers. They are a huge part of what makes Horsham Football Club special, so to all of them we say, THANK YOU!

Although the Club enjoys support from many volunteers in a number of different areas, there is always room for more. If you have considered getting more involved with the Club, and would like to explore how you could volunteer, we have a wide range of opportunities.

We are sure we can find a role to suit you, and you can be certain of a warm welcome! If you are interested, you can contact us at: horshamfc.community@yahoo.com.

Our thanks go to Mark Butler for writing this two-part feature series, and to all our volunteers who helped contribute to both articles.

Main picture: Pete Tanner hard at work at Hop Oast during the summer

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