Reflecting on the previous couple of years since my own deeper involvement with the club we have survived the pandemic and are getting back on a more even keel after temporarily losing our managers and happily rehiring them! The sad loss of our company secretary, Colin, and his knowledge and scouting was a deep and unexpected loss.
We have since separated the stadium operation from the football side of the business in terms of allocating responsibilities. Martin Knight with Mark Bower and Danny Boshell run the footballing operation with Tom McStravick and his coaches running and growing the Junior and Academy teams.
Calum Cullen operates across both elements as the Football Secretary and the Stadium Manager.
In effect he has two jobs in one.
Plenty of good communication is needed with the National League and all clubs in NLN to ensure we are compliant and responsive. He registers players, runs the stadium payroll, oversees pitch bookings and room bookings. He ensures matchdays are fully staffed, liaises with our new security company, operates the new shop and shack, organises new board sponsorships from initiating sales to getting the boards organised (more than ever before.)
He ensures we have a video record of the game and tries to get radio commentators and all with income and cost control targets to hit. He has recruited Bradford City Ladies to play and pay for pitch time, amongst others. We have hosted two international matches now, one soccer, one rugby league and can build our reputation as hosts. He must balance the multiplicity of expectations from all stadium users and solve all operational problems.
Tom McStravick and his team of qualified coaches run the Juniors and Academy teams and they have enlarged this part of the club and they are looking at engagement with close to 400 aspiring youngsters. He has established links with other local clubs and the Bradford Boys experts. He has links with his roots in Ireland and has grown connections with Man Utd and Sheffield Utd to try find and develop the future footballers we need. This both costs money and creates income and is operating for the long-term benefit of the club. Our U19 first team successes on the pitch are the seeds of future success in NLN.
If we can operate the Stadium company so that it no longer costs money to run, and we can grow the community network of young players, we can help with the continuing education of local youngsters and at the same time we aim to improve the fabric of the stadium so it is fit for purpose.
Major capital investment has come from Gareth and from available grants, with some help from loans. The Pavilion has been improved thanks to a council loan so that all the changing rooms are fit for purpose at last and plumbing, drainage and electrics have been improved.
We will soon be improving the toilets alongside the Pavilion. We know there is more to do – on toilets and disabled facilities and we continue to search for grants that will make a difference.
Meanwhile Calum has been using young novices, apprentices and volunteers to help matchdays and other income opportunities. Everyone employed must earn their salaries and more, develop skills and add value. He gets help from them to put the programme together, do some social media work and/or earn money from retail sales.
When I look at other NLN clubs on away visits, I’m always amazed at just how much is delegated to full time employees and how few people we rely on.
Everyone is helping to keep costs down and to create income so that we can afford to operate the football team successfully at NL level. We are helped by the Supporters’ Development Fund who create income from events and volunteer work which helps Martin, Mark and Danny to get players when they need to find extra funding over their allocated budgets.
Lots of changes, lots of facility improvements, an improved stadium and a team that will hold its own in NLN, which is key for all of us. The infamous ‘powers that be’ are the people you see working around the stadium. They are few and very hard working and, like me, often volunteers. No mysterious strangers and indeed we have added Neil Fawcett to the Stadium Director team, which is constituted with representatives of BPA, West Bowling and Bradford and Airedale Athletics Club, plus a Harold Park rep. Neil and Ben are stalwart volunteer helpers often seen together helping BPA at all times.The directors are led by a local man, Robert Clunas, with strong connections to Horsfall, its neighbours and councillors. If you feel you can help us by volunteering, please contact Calum. He has shown a great talent for coping with the challenges of a changing environment.
Paul’s notes will be posted every Thursday after a home match – So stay tuned to our website and socials!