Reflections on Scarborough Athletic moving back home

With Monday 15 January marking the six month milestone since Scarborough Athletic returned to play back in the town against Sheffield United after a decade in exile, Communications Officer Will Baines spoke to three club officials to get their take on how the move home has gone.

Although the game finished in a 4-1 defeat for Boro, the opening game on Saturday 15 July at the new Flamingo Land Stadium in front of a capacity crowd marked the first game in the town since 2007.

John Fawcett, Club President

John was involved with Scarborough FC as a former Chairman and Director as the club went down to Wembley in the 1970s under Colin Appleton, winning the FA Trophy three times. A well trusted Club President, John continued to travel to Bridlington throughout the exile and gave his reaction to the club returning home.

I think it's been absolutely tremendous, beyond all our wildest expectations.

Everything has gone superbly well on and off the field and it’s so good to be back in Scarborough after ten long years of going backwards and forwards to Bridlington.

I think my highlight was the goal that Max Wright scored against Mossley. He cut in from the right wing and hit it so sweetly with his left foot right into the top corner. What a goal and what a player that lad is! That to me is the highlight of the season so far.

I’m very pleased that there’s going to be improvements made to the ground to make it into a real football stadium.

With the form the team are showing in recent weeks, there’s no reason why we can’t finish up in the promotion places at the end of the season.

Club President John Fawcett at the opening of the Scarborough Leisure Village in June 2017 with Barmby the Bear. Barmby had accompanied John to all the FA Trophy Finals in the 1970s with Scarborough FC, and John wanted to show him the new ground as it was officially opened up to the public by Colin Jackson.

 

Nick Finch, Operations Director

Nick has been a Director at the club for the last seven years and all the ups and downs that go with it. He has performed every role at the club, with his energy and enthusiasm driving the club forwards on several fronts.

It’s a little bit like dreamworld at the moment!

It makes the ten years that we worked so hard at Bridlington to bring the club back home worth it.

Sometimes it’s a bit like the years in Bridlington never happened to be honest. It’s strange!

It was really difficult to keep going in Bridlington, particularly in those final few years. We continue to be so grateful to Pete Smurthwaite and to Bridlington Town for letting us play there and helping to keep the club alive, but I always knew, having worked closely with Dave, that the new ground would happen.

It has taken a long, long time but now it has happened, we really are back in the town!

There’s been some fantastic football played over the last six months, the opening game against Sheffield United was a fantastic occasion. The crowds have been brilliant. When you’ve been used to running a football club at Bridlington, where on a few occasions there was less than 100 there. Even the last home game of the season against Tadcaster I remember how I was really excited and surprised that we got 800 fans to watch us.

It was walking into the unknown and we have been learning from the first game, but we have learnt quickly and I hope everyone can see that things have improved.

The new board members that have come on board like Trevor have provided a big help and everyone has really pulled together.

I didn’t really sleep for the week before the opening game because of the anticipation but also the trepidation. I don’t think people realise how much work was going on behind the scenes to make sure that the ground was ready for the game. It just all fell into place really. It was a fantastic occasion to open the football ground.

With everything that happened over those last few months leading up to July with losing Dave (Holland), which was quite a wrench for us all behind the scenes. It felt as if Dave should have been there, but it also felt like that 'Do it for Dave' vibe was still going on.

Now it feels like we’ve got our team back and with Trevor on board, who has taken on the mantle as Chairman superbly, it just feels like everything is going in the right direction again.

 

Listen to the full interview with Nick below:

 

Trevor Bull, Chairman

Trevor was thrown in at the deep end in February 2017, taking on the role of Chairman to steer the club through the final few months before the return home following the sad loss of Dave Holland. Trevor can regularly be found on the terraces with supporters, but has taken on the new job in his stride. He spoke about the changes he has seen around the club moving from Queensgate to the Flamingo Land Stadium.

It's gone really quickly, we didn’t know where the six months was going to take us, it’s taken us further than we probably expected and we’ve learnt a hell of a lot along the way.

It's noticeable that going to watch the Boro on a Saturday is becoming a habit again, it’s a habit that people haven’t been in for ten years!

Also the number of parents I’ve got who say they’re annoyed with me because all of a sudden they’re having to stand on the terraces and watch because their children have been begging them to come is brilliant as well!

I've kept referring to the lost generation, and the number of children that we’re seeing coming through the turnstiles and the number of replica shirts we’re selling in child sizes has gone through the roof. Also it’s not just the primary school children, there’s the teenagers who come along and make all the noise too!

We’ve had issues, like the way the ground is configured and the sight lines, and gradually we’re addressing those. We’re working very closely with Scarborough Borough Council on that and everyone has been very helpful to help us move that forwards.

I think we’ve gone through phases over the last 6 months because we had all the excitement of pre-season, then the league kicking off with a 0-0 draw against Hyde. The big bonus for us was the FA Cup run because it got everyone excited and brought in a lot of additional revenue to support us this season.

In the background the league matches were ticking over, if you were at Hyde United on the 23 December when we lost 3-1 you’d have thought our season was over! Then all of a sudden we've won 5 games on the bounce, scoring 20 goals and conceding just 3, it’s fantastic.

A game that stands out at the Flamingo Land Stadium was the FA Cup game against Stratford Town. To be heading out of the competition in the fourth minute of injury time, then to grab an equaliser through Leon Osborne. Everyone went bananas!

If you think of some of the stunning goals that have been scored by Michael Coulson and Dave Merris with his trusty left foot, some of those have been spectacular beyond belief!

We couldn’t have got where we are today without the support of local businesses. Local businesses are really buying into what we’re trying to do, I think everyone now understands that we’re not just a football club but we’re a community club.

Watch the Homecoming back

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