The Supporters’ Club of Chelmsford City will forever be fondly remembered as the ones who pitched up at Birmingham City FC for that famous FA Cup Fourth Round game with a wheelbarrow full of footballs – hence the call “Wheel ‘Em in!” The origins of the Supporters’ Club, although well before this date, were quaintly encapsulated by this image, which we still hold dear nearly 75 years later.
It’s an image of a bunch of people who’ve fought to get what they want, and are proud to be wearing the claret. After all, the Supporters’ Club haven’t had it easy over the years! We’ve been unable to establish when the idea of the Supporters’ Club was first thought of, but it was certainly in existence in the early 1930s.
There was definitely a supporters club in existence prior to Chelmsford City Football Club being formed in 1938 – and there’s every possibility that our origins date back to 1928, when Chelmsford Football Club was formed (i.e. the old amateur club), as old newspaper archives indicate that they had a supporters club.
Following the War, the Supporters’ Club took on the responsibility for completing the concreting of the terracing at New Writtle Street, and this required a substantial amount of funding. To achieve this, the Supporters’ Club organised various social events which were popular in those pre-television days.
The Supporters’ Club soon went from strength to strength, with branches opening in Maldon, Braintree and Witham amongst other places, something which seems unbelievable these days for non-league team. As the Supporters Club’s funds built up during the 1950s they purchased Club houses, which were used to accommodate players signed by the Football Club who didn’t already live locally.
Eventually, as the John Coward-led push for Football League status gained momentum, these houses were ‘gifted’ to the Football Club to augment the stock of properties that they already owned. It was also in the late 1950s that the function of the Supporters’ Club changed.
It acted as more of a ‘Social Club’ which would give supporters the chance to socialise together and, therefore, bind them to the Football Club. Surplus funds would be donated to the Football Club, whose main source of income was still gate money.
The Chelmsford City Supporters’ Club played a big part in City’s revival in the late 1950s and early 60s by establishing a very successful weekly fundraising ‘pool’ which helped the Football Club’s finances enormously and assisted to put the Clarets back on the map in Southern League terms. With the attendances that City were getting in the 1960s, the Supporters’ Club thrived.
When gates slumped in the late 1970s, and through the 1980s, income from this source waned and the Supporters Club’s role changed again. They provided more of a matchday role, helping with personnel and running the half time draw competition – still a vital role in what was a difficult time for the club. This hasn’t changed today.
Annual membership in 1938 was ‘two bob’ – that’s two shillings or ten pence in today’s money – and, for that, you got a badge and a say at the Supporters’ Club meetings. In 2015, you pay £5.00 for full membership (the badge is an extra £2.00 now). Supporters’ Club membership was good value then…. and it’s sensational value now!
What Does the Supporters’ Club Do Now?
The Supporters’ Club raises funds for the Football Club in numerous ways, for example: membership fees; club shop; annual race night, annual supporters’ cricket match and fun day, player of the year disco, raffles, sponsor-a-goal, ad-hoc sponsorship events. So what’s next? Just more of the same!