Great to announce that Dave McMillan, Marine AFC Vice Chairman has agreed to a monthly column on www.TheCrosenderWay.com and no better way to start than about our 125th anniversary.
2019 (as I’m sure most of you will have realised by now) marks the 125th anniversary of Marine Association Football Club.
Just take a second to reflect on what an achievement it is that we are still here after a century and a quarter, never been bust, never reformed etc and with an excellent reputation throughout non league for how the club is run, in contrast to many other clubs who have had varying off field issues.
It would be fascinating if you could transport the founder members of the club in a time machine from 1894 to see how the club has developed and changed over the years. When I started following the team 40 years ago the ground was pretty decrepit and was the reason that we were denied promotion to the Conference twice in the 90s.
There was a determination then that the ground would be brought up to the standard required and the MTA now is a well appointed stadium. The redevelopment of the College Road end behind the stand will give us a total of 6 turnstiles which is the only remaining requirement for a B grade, which would enable us to remain members of the Conference North in the event of promotion.
That might sound wildly optimistic given our current League position and the fact that our last top half finish was in 2012 but we have to be prepared to grab that opportunity when – not if – it materialises. The Conference North is currently a tough League with a number of well supported ex League clubs in membership but if you know your history then every upward move from I Zingari through County Combination, Lancashire League, Cheshire League and then NPL was met with doubts whether we could compete financially or football wise – the challenge is there.
Looking back to 1979 when we joined the NPL there are so many differences in sources of income now, such as shirt sponsorship, ground naming, match sponsors, hospitality etc. We can’t afford to stand still and if we are to succeed at this level and above we have to explore new ideas and new areas of potential income.
To do that James Leary’s appointment as CEO has been key with a number of new initiatives and partnerships that will do just that but also build a new generation of fans from the community side. We are fortunate to have a knowledgeable and loyal fan base but we have 50,000 people within a 10 minute walk of the ground – get it right on the pitch and get out in the community and our potential for significantly improved gates is immense, you only have to look at the Salford FA Cup tie to demonstrate that.
Currently we have six players on contract and are looking at ways of increasing that number without putting significant risk on the club. We are certainly looking to hold on to our best players whilst also recognising that if an opportunity comes for anyone to play at higher levels then it’s not right to stand in his way, provided that any deal is right for the player and the club.
Hope that gives everyone a bit of an insight in to things as they stand, more than happy to answer any questions at any time about anything to do with the club – come and see me at a game or DM on twitter @davemcmarine.
Up the Mariners!