The Supporters’ Club of Chelmsford City will forever be remembered as the ones who pitched up at Birmingham FC in January 1939 for that famous FA Cup Fourth Round game with a wheelbarrow full of footballs – hence our renowned battle-cry of “Wheel ‘Em In!” The Supporters’ Club and what it stands for were encapsulated in the team photo from that day, an image that we still hold dear even now: players and supporters together as one, people who’ve fought to get what they want and are proud to be wearing the claret.
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, prior to the formation of the professional Chelmsford City Football Club being formed in 1938. There’s also every possibility that our origins date back to 1878, when the old amateur Chelmsford Football Club was formed, as old newspaper archives indicate that they too had a Supporters’ Club.
Following the end of World War II, 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 a 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 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 function, helping with personnel and running the half-time draw competition; still a vital role in what was a difficult time for the club, especially during our years of exile from Chelmsford between 1997 and 2006 after the loss of our beloved New Writtle Street.
The return to Chelmsford in 2006 saw an increase in support, as witnessed by the capacity attendance of our first game at Melbourne Stadium. Notable achievements aided or funded by the fans during the next decade included: portable terracing behind both goals; the electronic scoreboard; and not least the establishment of the Supporters’ Club headquarters, namely our hut next to the club shop.
We also saw the town of Chelmsford catch up with the football club when it was finally awarded City status in 2012, thus bringing to an end an anomaly which confused outsiders but made us City supporters very proud.
During what have been turbulent times more recently for the Football Club, the Supporters’ Club has continued its long tradition of helping in whatever way it can, whether it be physically in terms of manpower, or financially with donations, but always with a passion for “The Clarets”. Our latest donation covered the purchase and installation of equipment to enable live streaming of games. This, together with the excellent Radio Clarets, allows you, the fans, to enjoy the football when either unable or not permitted to attend.
None of the above would have been achievable without your support and we now need you more than ever in these worrying times for our club and country, so we leave you with this:
If you consider yourself to be a supporter of Chelmsford City Football Club, membership of its Supporters’ Club should be regarded not as an option, but rather as a bond between you, your fellow supporters, and the club you love.
UP THE CITY! Wheel ‘Em In!