Even though we’re only one match into the Test Cricket series, football is starting again. If you’re new to Ely and are a supporter of a Big Red Team (Arsenal, Man Utd or Liverpool), c’mon and try out a Little Red Team – Ely City: The Robins
This is aimed at, primarily, Ely’s newbies – the growing young professional population that is attracting Pizza Express, Starbucks and the rest to set up shop in our fair City. Amongst that influx of 20/30 year olds are undoubtedly many football supporters. I travel to Cambridge on the train each day and the platform at Ely is packed with men and women and I see them reading the sports pages and discussing the latest fooball news – from the Premiership. As a non-league football team, many levels below the big time, how do we attract these people to The Unwin Ground. What do we need to do to make them aware and eventually care about the City’s team?
Speaking personally, I’m neither growing, young or professional but my affection for the club was cemented in 1997 after years of being a fair-weather supporter (which you can read about here). After a good start to the season I was getting hooked enough to go over the Histon to watch us play on a Tuesday evening. We had two players sent off in the first half but still beat them 3-0. It was one of the best matches I’ve ever seen. The visiting Robins supporters gave the players a standing ovation and before I left you could hear the noise from the dressing room as the Ely players launched into a rowdy chorus of ‘The Red Red Robin’. I’m going to admit it, I had tears in my eyes.
So, you young professional who’s just moved to Ely (and may just possibly be reading this), are you going to come along to the pre-season friendlies? Go on, give it a go. After the first match you’ll know a handful of the players, by the second match you’ll recognise about half the team and so it’ll go until you have a ‘Histon away’ moment that will bind you to the club forever (or until you get head-hunted and move to Cornwall). That’s what I’ve found with non-league football – you have to invest a bit of time to enjoy it fully. We have a growing City and we should be attracting far bigger crowds. So, if you are a Chelsea, Spurs or Arsenal fan and you’ve migrated up the M11/A10 to join us in the Fens, then come on down to Downham Road. You can still watch your team on Sky – they’ll never be playing at 3pm on a Saturday like The Robins do.
If this emotional blackmail doesn’t work (come on, I’ve ‘fessed up about the watery eyes) I’ll try bribery. Tap me on the shoulder, say ‘I am a Newbie and I claim my pint’ and I’ll buy you a beer.
- Tues 26th July:
Ely City v Newmarket Town (KO 7:45)
- Fri 29th July:
Ely City v Soham Town Rangers (KO 7:45)
- Sat 6th August:
Ely City v Stotfold (KO 3:00)
- Tues 9th August:
Ely City v Stevenage Borough (KO 7:45)
…all matches to be played at Downham Road – visit the Ely FC website for more details.