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First Newsletter: March 2014

All That's Happening at The Homelands

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Welcome to this the very first newsletter about all things Ashford United Football Club.
Firstly let me thank you all for subscribing to this newsletter which is designed to summarise all the happenings at the club and to keep all fans and friends of the club up to date at a glance with these jottings.

Everyone is aware of the bizarre unbelievably wet and mild winter that we have and are still enduring. It is now official that this winter has been the wettest on record for 250 years and boy has that stretched the capabilities of our pitch! Countless postponements of games have not only stretched the patience of the fans but have as a club been financially expensive, as all cancellations cost the club money. We have to pay officials if they travel and to put a price tag to officials and their rate of payment, the most expensive was for the 4 officials that we had in the FA Vase game against Hanwell Town just a couple of weeks back and that was to the tune of £304.That amount, as I said earlier was the most expensive but, even if officials travel and do not officiate they still need money in compensation. That is the same for all clubs, so we are not alone in this situation. One other local club who play a division above us in the Ryman league have recently expressed their financial loss due to the weather and cancelled games coupled with lower gates .Thank you to all you loyal fans as, come wind and rain, you still want to support our lads and we are blessed with higher numbers than most at our level of competition.
Hopefully as the second half of the season’s games unfolds the weather will behave itself and allow us to get games on.

Steve Hackett has been grounds man now for several seasons and his efforts have been recognised officially as he has been nominated by the SCEFL as a grounds man of the year which we wish Steve the very best of luck in this award.
The club have recently purchased a Ransomes 5 gang mower for the upkeep of the pitch .It has a massive 3 metre width cut and is well capable of towing the many tools that we use to keep the soil aerated such as a spiker which delivers’ 120 aeration holes to the surface every revolution of the drum ! Not the sort of tool to get run over by! We gratefully received a contribution of £400 from the supporters club to help with the purchase and we thank you all for this.

FA VASEThis season has been our most successful in this competition.Wins against Steyning Town,Cobham,Greenwich Borough,Littlehampton Town and Tring Athletic , took us up to the 7th December 2013.We then had the saga of getting the next game on against Hanwell Town. After several attempts the tie was switched from Hanwell in south west London to Homelands to which we also struggled to get the game on ,again due to the rain. We had a total of 6 cancellations in total for this game between the two locations but managed to play on our pitch that was deemed soft but playable. As we all know we lost by 1-2 but it was far from a disgrace .With a better rub of the green we could well have won .The game was played on 13th February over 2 months since the previous round was played! Hanwell went on, some 2 days later, to play Ampthill Town losing after extra time being played. Good luck to Ampthill who could well make their Wembley dream come true.

FA CUPThis year was one of our shortest involvements in the competition for many seasons. The first game was against Worthing United back on 17th August. A goalless draw sent us to Worthing where we had a 1-0 win in this the extra preliminary round replay. This took us to Ryman South current leaders Peacehaven and Telscombe where our exit from the competition was by a 4-0 loss.
The FA Cup is the highest amount of prize money for football clubs and next season should hopefully see us in there, mixing it up with them all.

This could well be the best chance that Chambo and the team have to be successful in a cup competition with the following results so far. We started on the trail back in October with a 2-2 draw against Erith Town but it went to penalties which we won 3-1.Second round was up against Sevenoaks with a win at 2-1.This then moved us on to Phoenix Sports which eventually found the game played at Phoenix after various postponements which ended in yet another penalty shoot out as the teams were at 1-1 after extra time had been played. With Dave Cook followed by Gary Clarke both missing their penalties it looked bleak but Joe Mant made the difference with some superb saves and when Phoenix needed to score to remain in the competition Joe made a save that caused everyone including a normally reserved Paul Chambers to mob the young keeper in praise. To date we play Holland’s &Blair in the semi final away, with the winners playing either Beckenham Town or Fleet Leisure. Come on you greens!

Within the next couple of weeks we will be having a refit to both bars at the club. Carlsberg have come in and will be revamping the look and the ales that are for sale. Carlsberg lager will feature along with a bitter and for the dark beer enthusiasts there will be Guinness alongside bottled beers and juices plus the normal soft drinks associated with many who obey the drink drive regulations. Denise is actively looking to bring a new look and difference to the hospitality scene at the club and her efforts will be well advertised for you all to consult those diaries in good time to make it all happen.

www.ashfordunitedfc.comThe website “Hub” was launched just before the Christmas period and has been received very well with the viewing and activity figures rising month by month. We are working in association with web designers (plus a whole lot more ) YMERIHART and a special thank you from this editor goes to Alan Hart who has been a stalwart figure for the club and myself with his input to make it all work. We are constantly adding news and features to the website and we are very much still a “work in progress” situation. We took the decision to make a website suitable to take us on our journey upwards in the leagues as opposed to taking an out of the box readymade site that many clubs use. It took longer than expected to produce but is now well on its way. The next addition will be the “on line” club shop which I will reveal more about later in this newsletter. Player profile pictures are by courtesy of Rebecca Crosbie Photography .This feature has been warmly welcomed and has been a talking point with many since its introduction. We slotted Rebecca’s visit to us for the photography session in between the many wedding portfolios that she produces with quality second to none. There is an active team of 4 persons contributing their efforts towards what you read and see, with some informative match reports from Kevin Hall and up to the minute photographs of the action which keeps a fresh look at all times. As time goes on everyone will look for the latest info on “The Hub” and everything that is Ashford United Football Club.

The club shop will soon be re-introduced both as an actual shop at the Stadium plus an “On –Line” shop which will be a part of the website. The online shop will feature a “paypal” system for secure payment with items for collection from the shop. We will be featuring scarves plus many more lines and the new “Stanno” kit which has been selected for the season 2014/15. There will be shirts in all available sizes on the hanger to try on and get your shirt to perfectly fit with delivery normally from factory stock within a few days. Colours will still be the traditional green and white in a stylish new configuration. Staff will also be wearing the new kit colours so as to identify just who is who and what job they have at the club. Stanno produce a ladies fitted version of the short sleeved new shirt which will bring a stylish and smart look to all staff members. Back by popular demand in the club shop which will again be run by Sandy ,will be the sweets section for all to try a taste explosion as all kids love plus the grown up’s too! There will also be a “Sale” of all items in stock that relate to Ashford Town FC. Pens, key rings .bottle openers are on the sale list so pop along and see what Sandy has for sale. You never know, in a few years time they could all well be collector’s items!

There are plans being made for the stadium to have the “Wrap Around” extension which will enable more capacity at the ground and also to give a new vibrant plan which I can now reveal the contents thereof.
Included will be a conference and banqueting facility, restaurant, fitness centre, Golf course operations hub, a secure grounds man maintenance building, Ashford Sports Academy, Ashford Independent radio station (AIR) and Commercial space, which can be hired out to facilitate and generate income for the day to day running of Ashford United Football Club.
The owners, the Crosbie family, are committed to the long term use of The Homelands as a sporting venue for football and other possible activities in a sustainable way so as to procure football at the highest possible level that is achievable for a town that has been designated as the growth area of the south East of England. With the new housing planned for Ashford it will in years to come, have a population in excess of 200,000 and that deserves a football club that is on the up and up.
We intend that club to be Ashford United Football Club.

Thank you for reading this newsletter and we will be producing this again as an update on a regular basis to advise the fans and friends of AUFC as to what is the latest happening at your football club. In the meantime keep the faith, keep up the support and we will work very hard to bring about all that is planned as well as providing a football team that is set to be going places!

Kindest Regards To All……………..From All at “The Hub”.