In an age where the lifestyles of millionaire footballers is quickly detaching the sport from real fans, one Tamworth FC is using a heritage lottery grant to build bridges with its community.
What would £25,000 be worth at a Premier League club? The weekly wages for an out-of-favour defender at one of the poorer clubs?
The cost of a second car for the WAG wife? Or even the drinks bill for one round at the Manchester United Christmas party?
And how much is £25,000 worth for a fan of a Premier League club? Probably something like his annual wage.
Well, at Tamworth Football Club, £25,000 is not being blown on bubbly or a Bentley. It is being put to good use – to further entrench the club within its community.
The Heritage Lottery Fund grant will be used to fund a project to celebrate the history of the non-league club in its 75th anniversary year.
Memories of fans, players and officials will be collected as The Lambs celebrate the historic milestone by educating people about its past.
An exhibition, interactive website, a commemorative guide book and even some playing cards will be produced by volunteers and supporters of the club
Over 12 months, supporters who have watched the club grow from strength to strength since its inception in 1933 will be interviewed by the volunteers as part of the information gathering exercise.
Anne Jenkins, the head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in the West Midlands, said: “Tamworth Football Club’s history is a vital part of the town and its fortune – and misfortunes – have been followed by thousands of local people. The supporters now want to mark this historic anniversary with a project that will record those fortunes forever, making sure that the character and colourful history is preserved so that young football fans in the future can look back on their club with pride. We’re really pleased to be able to give them a grant to allow them to do that.”
Dave Clayton, lifelong supporter and matchday volunteer at Tamworth Football Club, said: ”This is really exciting news, we can’t believe we are being given the chance to help celebrate the club’s 75th anniversary, Tamworth FC has grown so much over that time and it will be a wonderful chance for everyone to take the time to look back at what’s been achieved and how life has changed.
“A record of our shining moments as well as some of our failures will be a fantastic memento for fans and historians of the future.”
Tamworth fans have experienced many highs and lows over the years, including beating Torquay at The Lamb in the FA Cup in the 1960s. The club also played at Wembley in 1989 and won the FA Vase in the replay at Peterborough. The Lambs secured promotion to the top flight of non-league football in the 2002-3 season, when they played in the FA Trophy at Villa Park, losing 2-1 to Burscough.
A string of well-known footballers have played at The Lamb – including Paul Devlin, Paul Merson and Bob Taylor. In 1954, Peter Weir became their biggest export, signing for Cardiff City.
The Lamb, which was named after a now demolished pub, became the club’s permanent home after their first season.
Club president Len Gendle, who has been going to matches since just after the war, said: “We can look back with so much pride at what the club has achieved.
“It represents the town of Tamworth brilliantly and has encouraged many youngsters to take up this wonderful sport. We are so pleased to get to this milestone and for the fans to be able to produce a memento of our history will help us to mark this milestone in a fantastic way.”
* Anyone wishing to get involved in the heritage project can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.