Fingers on buzzers, no conferring,What do the following have in common? Bruno Fernandes, Gary Neville, Alex Scott, Roy Keane, Lou Macari, Tranmere Rovers, Chelsea FC Women’s team and FC United?. No idea? Well, they’ve all been shortlisted in the Football Supporters’ Association Awards for 2020 which were announced last week. Whilst United’s Portuguese playmaker is up for the men’s player of the year and Keano, Alex Scott and Gary Neville have been nominated for TV/radio pundit of the year, FC United’s food hub has been shortlisted in the non-league section of the Lockdown Heroes awards which aims to recognise some of the individuals and groups that have done so much to help their local communities during the coronavirus crisis.
And we’re up against stiff competition as the other nominees in the non-league section are Clapton CFC for their Clapton Against Corona Hardship Fund and Gosport Borough for their Feed a Family in Need initiative – two wonderful community projects.
Gosport Borough, of the Southern Premier League, launched their Feed a Family in Need campaign last April and the club is now supporting up to 150 homes in the Hampshire town every week. Like FC, the operation has been run by a team of volunteers who have been working with local schools, Gosport Voluntary Action and others to identify families in need of help and deliver food parcels to them. They’ve received some donations from local supermarkets but most of the supplies have been sourced through a crowdfunding campaign that has so far raised more than £9,700 (the initial target was £2,500) from 219 supporters.
Meanwhile supporter-owned Clapton CFC, of the Middlesex County League, set up its Clapton Against Corona Hardship Fund in March to assist any members, no questions asked, who were struggling financially during the pandemic. In the spirit of Karl Marx supporters were invited to “give what they can, take what you need” to provide some short-term cash for those most in need such as the unemployed or workers on zero hours contracts or freelancers who experienced a sudden drop in their income as a result of the health crisis. The east London club’s initial target was to raise £5,000 but that was quickly smashed and by the end of January a total of £12,250 had been received in donations from more than 200 supporters with £11,740 paid out to supporters in need so far.
The FSA is the national representative body for football supporters in England and Wales and is the leading advocate for supporter ownership of football clubs. Its democratically elected National Council includes three representatives from community-owned clubs including FC United. The awards which have run in their current format since 2013, are now the largest supporter-led awards in the UK with more than 366,000 votes cast in 2018.
FC United’s community liaison officer Vinny Thompson who has overseen our food hub since last March said that he was delighted to receive this nomination. The food hub – which is staffed by volunteers from FC (including staff who’ve been furloughed), the North Manchester Business Network, Manchester City Council and other local residents - has been feeding bellies and minds across North Manchester since the beginning of the pandemic and in January alone the weekly deliveries of food and other supplies to sixty households were estimated to be worth around £14,000 at supermarket prices. For Vinny and his team this national recognition is well deserved. As are the tremendous efforts of Clapton CFC and Gosport Borough – examples of socialism that warm the heart in these toughest of times.
The Lockdown Heroes Awards will be judged by an FSA jury with the winners set to be announced on 5th March. You can visit the FSA’s website and read more about the awards here: HERE