Back when I began this column, I figured we'd just follow the club because of Peter Withe. What I find striking is how quickly I've come to be interested by everyone else associated with the club. It makes perfect sense why people work with a club in the EPL, or even the Championship. But at the level Stockport play at, it isn't quite as clear. Are people looking to advance? Just there for the love of the game? Or something else?
In this week's Stockport Report, we continue on something of a theme that we've had all season: what is life like in non-league football? We've already heard from star striker John Marsden and the Saxon's de facto chief of media operations Chris Culkin. This week isn't another interview, though. Instead, Richard Smales, the club's Commerical and IT manager contacted me and wondered if I'd be willing to run an article he wrote. I eagerly agreed. What you'll find below is his writing. There is, admittedly, a bit of an advertisement section at the end, but I was happy to see that, actually. It gives a lot of detail on how any of us can support the team, even if from afar. I, for instance, am a member of the 1000 Saxons club, and very proud to be so! I normally would be reticent to run the bit that is an ad, but as Richard points out, even a couple of bucks here or there can really help the team, which is - overall - one of the main reasons I write this.
If, after reading, you've got questions for Richard, drop them in the comments below, or shoot him an email at the listed address. You can also follow him on twitter, where he has his own account and that of the Saxon's commercial side. From what I can tell, he's always happy to hear from fans, and he is - like everyone else I've met doing the column - genuinely kind and warm. With that, I'll let Richard take it away:
As many of your blog readers know, 7500 to Holte cover the latest reports from Stockport Sports FC on a weekly basis and I can't credit and thank the site for publishing the excellent articles enough. It is fantastic that we have a great amount of coverage all over the world to thousands of viewers each week.
The world of non-league football may be new to many of you so here is a little behind the scenes explanation of what we are working with on a daily basis. Here at Stockport Sports FC we are setting the standard by offering each of our player's full-time football, same as that in the football league, and all under the guidance of an Aston Villa hero and legend Peter Withe.
We have a very active and ambitious team of volunteers and workers all looking to bring the best possible results to the club and move forward on a professional level to achieve success in the long term future. Everyone connected to the club has the best interests at heart and we all work together to bring the knowledge of our club to the public of Stockport and Manchester.
However on a daily basis whilst catching up on other football news we all hear and read the reports of a £3 billion TV deal for the Premier League, stadiums average attendance of 50,000 spectators, football clubs generating in excess of £100m profit each season. How much of this actually gets filtered through to grassroots and lower levels of football? Very little indeed is filtered down, in all honesty probably nothing at all.
This then translates to hard work and dedication to build a football club at the lower ends of the scale. Clubs at our level are built around strategic budgets and spending within their means, The Saxons are lucky to be situated in the fantastic new £9 million Sports Complex here in Stockport which offers fantastic training facilities, first class hospitality areas, a brand new playing surface and much more. This is a bonus to the club but on the flip side we need to make this sustainable for the full season somehow.
The start of every season comes and each club dreams of being that one team to make it through to the FA Cup first round, the prestige of being on TV, all the match build up, prize money along the way, sell-out crowds, you know the score. Unfortunately we fell short at the first hurdle this season and it wasn't to be for us. The same goes with our FA Vase cup run; this is a competition for all non-league teams (same format as FA Cup) with a chance to play the final at Wembley. I guess you would say it wasn't our year for cup runs, Peter Withe mentioned in his latest match day programme notes that in his first season for Villa they went out of the cups in the first round but went on to win the league!
All is not lost as The Saxons are still very much in the hunt for our ultimate goal we set at the start of the season, which is to be Champions and gain promotion to the league above.
Having had a mixed start to the season, Peter Withe has now assembled a settled side capable of competing at the top end of the table, however we at the club do feel a couple more acquisitions would boost our chances even further of gaining the ultimate prize come May! And we are inviting you to play your part in helping Peter Withe bring in the correct players to reach our goals, along with a chance for you to win some big money prizes along the way too.
Whilst the club offers the best opportunity to all of our players with the full time training setup, we are inviting everyone to play their part in helping boost the club's reputation and awareness along with taking part in chances to win big money prizes along the way.
You can play your part by simply signing up to our 1000 Saxons Membership, this is just £1.00 per week and will give you access to attend any of our Home games, you can sign up online today by clicking here (overseas transactions please click here) [Robert's note: they set up a PayPal account just so those of us stateside could join!]
Not only do we have the 1000 Saxons Membership but why not play our Saxons Club Lottery online for your chance to win big money prizes, full lottery details are available here. It is just £2.00 to play and you can win anything from £100 upwards each week! Buy your monthly subscriptions too so you can play all year round.
Want some collectors' items from Stockport Sports FC first season and to read up on Peter Withe's season so far? You can purchase any of our Home match day programmes from the club shop online: Paper Version £2.00 & Online Version just £1.00
Watch the Saxons live! Yes I know many of you may be over in America viewing this, but for those that are a little bit closer to home you can enjoy a day out at the football for just £7 Adults, £4 Concessions and Under 16s FREE! Why not come along to a game when the Villa are not playing, if you are a Season Ticket Holder at Aston Villa we will let you in for Concession prices, now that is an offer you can't refuse! And you will have the chance to meet your club legend after the match.
You may be thinking how just £1, £2 or £5 per week will help run a football club? It most certainly does, without the investment of the millions from Sky TV your help from taking part in any of the above can go a long way in helping bring success to Peter Withes team this season.
The Saxons are on the cusp of a promotion chase and the more people behind the club, taking part in our initiatives and in attendance on match days will only help inspire the players to bigger and better things over the coming weeks and months.
I hope that everyone can become part of our Club in some way in the not too distant future, if you have any questions or suggestions on how you would like to help please by all means email myself (Richard Smales) on firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be on hand to listen to all enquiries.
Up The Saxons! Up The Villa
Thanks again to Richard for the write-up. It's a real treat for us to get such an inside look at the club, and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.
In team news, last week's match was called off due to a waterlogged pitch (not in Stockport!). This Saturday at 1500 GMT, the Saxons take on Bootle in Stockport. The club has yet to beat Bootle in two attempts this season, and The Bucks look to be right there with Stockport as the teams to beat in the NWCFL. It should be a great match.
Up the Saxons!