The Chelsea Supporters Trust got off to successful, if somewhat chaotic, start on Saturday with a meeting attended by well over 100 people at the CIU Club in Britannia Road.
The day started with a mention for the Trust during Tim Rolls’ lunchtime interview on BBC Radio 5 Live, and members of the Trust Working Group were out on the streets surrounding Stamford Bridge prior to the kick-off against Wigan, in spite of the cold and rain, handing out flyers promoting the launch of the Trust.
By 5.00pm, the downstairs bar at the CIU was already filling up, and hundreds more eager to find out about the new venture were queuing on the stairs to gain admittance. While they waited, Working Group members handed out membership leaflets and contact cards. Unfortunately, by 5.15pm, the room was full, and approximately 200 people (although Martin Lipton of the Daily Mirror reported that it was as many as 400) had to be turned away from the venue due to it being over-capacity and to prevent a breach of license. Happily, however, this did not prevent many of those interested joining the Trust before they left, in spite of their understandable disappointment at not being able to attend the meeting, which they took in exceptionally good spirit.
Although the meeting was due to commence at 5.45pm, special guest Kerry Dixon was running late as he was completing host duties at Chelsea, and it was decided to start the meeting by explaining the purpose of the Trust. Kerry Dixon arrived just after 6.00pm to a rousing reception from the audience, and he warmly welcomed the initiative by the Working Group in starting the Trust and thanked them for their work.
Questions from the floor about the Trust were taken throughout the meeting, ranging from how it could help in lowering ticket prices, to how it would operate as a democracy, and a lively meeting concluded with Kerry Dixon’s participation in a Q&A, in which he answered questions including who was the best manager he played under (John Neal) and which player he would most liked to have played alongside (Gianfranco Zola).
Although the meeting ended at approximately 7.30pm, Kerry Dixon further cemented his reputation as a fans’ favourite by signing books and autographs and having his photo taken with supporters.
The launch of the Chelsea Supporters Trust subsequently received favourable coverage in both the Guardian and the Daily Mirror, as well as being extensively debated via social media, and to cap a busy weekend, members of the Trust Working Group attended a course at the offices of Supporters Direct on Sunday, together with supporters from other football trusts, in order to gain a greater understanding of the practicalities of running a Trust until the first AGM takes place, which is anticipated to be in August , when the Trust board will be selected by the membership. They will then be able to pass on their expertise to any newcomers elected.
Personal View of Saturday & the Chelsea Supporters Trust
As you’ll have guessed, the above is very much a traditional and factual view of Saturday’s CST Launch. However, everyone involved will have their own stories of a memorable day for those who have worked so hard since last summer to get the Trust off the ground.
Calorifically speaking, my Saturday consisted of a fry-up at 9am, and the next time I ate was a takeaway bag of chips from a certain well-known fast food shop in Kings Cross at 10.30pm.
In spite of the adverse weather conditions, it’s always great to get out and do leafleting. I love seeing people either smiling and trying to grab a leaflet or trying to pretend that I don’t exist. It’s fair to say that I’ve now cultivated a ‘barking’ voice almost on a par with one of He Who Must Not Be Named’s merchandisers.
One of the great things about Saturday was the number of people who were interested. I even spoke to some fans from Belgium just outside Fulham Broadway, and hopefully, as they now have a contact card and a flyer, they’ll be able to join the Trust and make their voices heard.
When I arrived at the CIU at 4.50pm, I was staggered by the numbers who’d already arrived, and I’m also extremely grateful for their patience and good humour when they were told they couldn’t gain access to the meeting due to the house being full.
I spent the meeting dodging in and out of the room as I had to liaise with the club secretary, the doormen, meet press, and ensure that anyone who turned up later and couldn’t get in got a membership form/was signed up, and it was certainly cooler in the corridor outside than in the bar, which resembled the Black Hole of Calcutta, with attendees crammed in so tight that some of them were right on top of the table where Tim, David, Cliff, David Johnstone and Kerry were sitting. There is no truth in the rumours that the tagline for the Trust will changed from “One Life, One Love, One Club” to “What About Cortez [sic]?”
And I’d like to add something else about Kerry – he didn’t swan off straight after the meeting, but was totally brilliant about talking to supporters and signing stuff. And after that, he came upstairs to the ‘Members Bar’, which is one of my match day hang-outs, and talked to the fans upstairs. And in an utterly bizarre and surreal moment, we ended up singing ‘The Way We Were’ together. Until we forgot the rest of the words, that is.
Saturday was immensely tiring, but very rewarding. I can’t speak for anyone else connected with the Trust, but my own view is that everyone wants to help you, the supporters, but we can only help you if you let us know what it is you want. So get in touch with the Trust. It’s yours. You have a voice. Use it.
You can visit the Chelsea Supporters Trust website here (where you can see also see some fantastic photos of the event) and follow @ChelseaSTrust on Twitter. The Trust also has a Facebook page. In addition, if you’d like to talk to someone about the Trust in person, a member of the Working Group will be available to talk to fans on match days at the CFCUK stall opposite Fulham Broadway Tube.
As always, I’m @BlueBaby67 on Twitter and can often be found lurking at ahfcchat.com.