I write this on the morning following the first ever league sell-out at Marine Football Club. It is a brilliant milestone for us and we cannot thank enough all supporters who really are buying into and adopting Marine as their team. We will do everything possible to make sure the experience is as good as can be and keep people coming back. Our fan base is getting stronger and stronger and it bodes well for the future and what we can achieve as a football club.
I remember a number of our managers over the years describing Marine as a sleeping giant. Neil Young is the man who has just woken it up. I must say how highly I respect Neil. He is a class act. The amount of work he puts into the role in a week combining it with a full-time job and a family is incredible, and it is no coincidence that we’ve achieved what we have on the pitch in the last 18 months.
Our team is the most “together” I have ever known it and on a personal level I think the world of this group. They are passionate, care about the football club, have a real winners’ mentality and put their body on the line for each other. They will work hard right to the end of the season to make sure we achieve our goals.
Our Under 23 team also sits at the top of the table as they look to progress to the West Cheshire 1st Division. Alex McNally and Matty Chan have both progressed through the team to become squad regulars with the first team. Joel Stringer (aka Jerry Springer) and Junior are currently training regularly with the first team whilst others including Jack Murphy, Kyle Campbell, Harrison Worden and Darren Brannigan have been involved this season. Glynn Hurst along with Lee Doran and Andy Spence are doing a brilliant job at bringing players through, whilst also overseeing performances which have left us unbeaten at Christmas.
Our Women’s team that we started last season is progressing. I thank Gillions for their support and to the team for their work all year.
Last summer we set an ambitious five-year plan. I had no idea how we would get the finances to achieve everything on the plan in five years, however the aims will be achieved by the end of the summer and we will be in a position to re-assess and progress once more.
In terms of the stadium, we are looking to improve capacity and also spectator amenity through more covered terracing and food and drink stations. A lot of supporters have been mentioning about a cover at the Crosender Road end as one example. We will be submitting a planning application in the New Year to address these items.
We are keen to push forward the matchday experience. We have tried crossbar challenges, have regular mascots now from the brilliant Crosby Stuart partnership we enjoy, pizza stalls, drink huts, etc. Some things have worked and some haven’t but we are trying to learn and constantly improve.
We have also made a lot of changes to club structure and continue to drive this forward to professionalise and modernise.
On the football side, we have just appointed Ian Johnson as Head of Scouting to help Neil drive forward talent identification and recruitment. Ian has an affinity to Marine and is also a trusted friend of Neil so it is a great fit to help make sure that we are doing all we can to recruit the best.
Away from the football side, this year we recruited our first ever General Manager Jon Hoy. Jon is responsible for everything that happens on our 3-acre site and driving revenues forward. He has done an incredible job of managing the new bars as an example and our revenues have increased 3-fold compared to those pre-covid. This increased revenue is exactly what I was looking for to allow us to better compete on the pitch. We always previously struggled to compete against people throwing money to try and be successful. We needed the increased revenue to allow us to compete at a higher level in a sustainable way and that is what we are on the path to doing.
There is so much more that we can do though as a club especially with the increased fan base in the way we operate and in how we move things forward. We have just recruited a new full-time Football & Community Admin Officer, Emma Williams, who starts on 31st Jan. Splitting her time between Marine Football Club and Marine In The Community, this appointment will allow us to continue to professionalise as a club, looking at every area of the club and will give us the capacity to make the improvements we need to make.
On the community side, it has been a fantastic year for MITC. Graeme Gardiner has done a superb job in bringing together all that he has. We are now coaching in seven primary schools, and from the beginning of next year six high schools. We have a number of projects alongside this including the recently announced Crimestoppers initiative with the four local football clubs Everton, Liverpool, Marine and Tranmere Rovers partnering with the common goal of trying to reduce crime. For the over 50’s we have a full weekly activity programme, including yoga, community café, walking group, walking football, talking groups and line dancing, with other plans lined up for early next year including indoor bowling. The challenge for MITC is finding places locally to be able to deliver these activities when the Arrive Suite is already in use. If anybody has any ideas of other places or facilities that can be used, please let me know. We have taken on our first full-time coach in Joel Springer who also plays for our Under-23 side in addition to our part-time coaches.
As a final note, I would like to thank everybody reading this and all players, fans, sponsors and everyone involved in the club who have been so supportive of us in the most memorable year in our history. The interest in Marine FC now is phenomenal and with that continued support we will keep working hard to achieve.
With any comments, questions, suggestions or anyone wanting to get involved, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a fantastic Christmas with your families and see you on the 27th.