A Plea To The Citizens of Ely
In the 70â€™s when I was still a keen reader of â€˜Shootâ€™, the only kids football magazine available at the time, I remember reading a statistic about Burnley Football Club. At the time the population of the town was about 80,000 and they were regularly getting gates of 20,000. Thatâ€™s 25% of the population! In fact, having just googled ‘Burnley FC’, thereâ€™s an article that states that before the First World War they had attendances of 50,000 which was the equivalent of the townâ€™s population at the time.
So, because Iâ€™m a bit bored at the moment, I decided to bring those stats up to date. On the opening day of last season, the Clarets attracted 12,190 supporters to witness their 2-0 win over QPR. According to Wikipedia, the current population of the town is 74,000 â€“ making their gate 16.47% of the total.
Where is all this waffle leading us? I hear you ask. Well, bearing in mind that Elyâ€™s population (at the last census) was given as 15,000 we would need to attract 2,470 to the Unwin Ground to equal the Lancastrianâ€™s 16.47%. I know theyâ€™re in the 2nd Division (I refuse to call it The Championship â€“ it ainâ€™t) and The Robins are in the Eastern Counties League First Division but, come on, our average gate last season of 113 translates as 0.75% of Ely.
The point of this orgy of statistics is that I urge anyone reading this who hasnâ€™t actually tried non-league football to give it a go. I donâ€™t like to pick out individuals but an entry on our guestbook last season made me smile. Richard Hanson-James said: â€œI’m a regular visitor to Ely, and checked the site out to see what’s what in local football. Why no information on ticket prices and availability?â€
Now, anyone who goes to local football matches at ECL level knows that the price is going to be somewhere between Â£4 and a fiver nowadays and that availability isnâ€™t an issue. I think the fact that 99.25% of people in Ely are doing something other than watching the local team proves that point. Or are they? Large numbers of people travel to support Cambridge United, Peterborough, Spurs, Arsenal etc for home games. On a Sunday afternoon at 4pm the Hereward pub in Ely is jam-packed with lads wearing Arsenal, Chelsea and Man Utd shirts. Ely is a ‘football’ City – it’s just that we need more people to wend their way along Downham Road, over the by-pass and into the Unwin Ground.
Try it! You might like it.