When I was a child, the pre-match ritual of going to a County game would always start with visiting the family lounge underneath the Cheadle End. It had a range of activities such as football, quizzes, visits from players and food for youngsters. It was run by volunteers who had County in their hearts and gave up their Saturdays to encourage the future of County’s support. Spanning for 30 years, the family lounge must have hooked hundreds, if not thousands of young people on returning to the club. It was a space where County fans, young and old could connect and bond and form relationships where young people may not have been able to otherwise at a pub for example. It helped establish and reaffirm the junior supporters club. The family lounge provided me a gateway to many opportunities within the club. This included being a mascot for free, coach travel to away days, birthday, Christmas and end of season parties, football summer camps and going bowling with the first team squad. These are such opportunities that aren’t readily available at many clubs and helps what makes Stockport County unique. As the years went on, I stopped attending the family lounge before the game but there is no doubt its influence attracting youngsters to visiting EP.

Now, nobody can deny Mark Stott’s ambition and passion for the club. Jon Keighren at a recent fans’ forum described him as a ‘saviour’. There is no doubting that the fans including myself are very thankful for Mark. His ambitions for the club are enough to make any County fan drool. His investment has been staggering and the improvements of the ground certainly look far more impressive. However, speaking to those involved with the family lounge, they have been ousted as part of the developments to the stadium – in order to make way for another ‘executives’ lounge.

Mark may have had no role in this decision but whoever has had this role may need to reassess. This is a decision that threatens the community aspect of the club and belittles many of the impassioned volunteers who were involved in running the family lounge. We are all appreciative of the investment and efforts of the club over the past 18 months or so but, this is one of the few decisions that has threatened the fabric of the club. As County hopefully progress through the leagues, we must not lose our essence and ensure that we remain a distinctive, community club.

I would ask the questions – why has the family lounge made way for another executive lounge? Furthermore, are there any plans to reintroduce it? What are the plans to attract young people to Edgeley Park to inspire them to come more often? It is a move which I hope doesn’t set a precedence in County’s future of thwarting the community aspect of the club and ensuring that fans are at the heart of every decision being made at the club. With Mark’s exhilarating plans to expand the stadium, it is vital that we find new ways of enticing young supporters but, also maintaining what has been so successful in the past with the family lounge and the offering of free kid’s tickets.

By Adam Sundle

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2 Comments

  1. I personally am so disappointed if it is true that making more money takes priority over the younger
    supporters and their families. What happened to the club being fan
    focussed and community spirited? This definitely needs to re assessed
    urgently. My children loved going to the lounge before the games and it has taken some of the enjoyment away from the home games for them. We also used to use it as a meeting point where we could spend time with friends who have seats in other stands too. I am told that there is still something that happens on the cheadle end concourse (through word of mouth but not confirmed) but what about all the families in the other stands? Or do they not matter? Feeling very disappointed and let down currently as a family by this
    situation. Thanks for addressing this issue.

    Like

  2. Hi Sharon, I hope you’re well.
    We’ve had a response from the club (via the Co-op).
    ‘We offer an area on both the Cheadle End and also behind The Together Stand. We provide free of charge face painting, balloon artist and an interactive player photo which fans can pose in front of too.
    We have some further plans for behind The Together Stand which we will be sharing with fans very very soon. We have a meeting this afternoon to discuss this and will keep you posted’
    Watch this space.

    Like

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