Stu Miller reflects on a hectic but very enjoyable and productive 2018 for our South East Poolies.
This has without doubt been the biggest year to date for the SEP and we thought it would be good to share what has been going on and what we have planned. A little bit like the Club itself, the SEP had become a little bit stagnant and needed a bit of a refresh. The unlikely catalyst for this was nearly losing the Club, which galvanised the branch gave us the push to start making a difference.
Our achievements have included:
Conducting a bucket collection outside of Gillingham FC before their home game with Rochdale to raise funds to help save the club. Despite the bitterly cold temperatures, kind-hearted supporters parted with £400! In addition, many members were actively sharing the fund details and attended the Fans United game against Wrexham.
Sponsoring the 2018/19 away shirt for Niko Muir. The return to carrying out this kind of sponsorship was due to the trust that the Club is being run in the correct manner. Previously we have always tried to sponsor a player with a South East connection and we are proud that Niko represents us in an exemplary manner.
Our caps and duts sales have been a huge success. At present we have sold out our batch of 20 caps and have only a couple of our 50 duts remaining. What was an early Sunday morning idea from Becky Miller took off at a far greater pace than we expected. This was down largely to the hard work of Terry Sengelow selling these at away games.
As part of the initiative to allow children’s groups to purchase cheap tickets for the Barnet game, we offered to buy a £30 ticket for the first response on Facebook. This was then kindly matched by Nick Skinner. A low-cost outlay allowed 22 children and 2 adults to attend the game, enjoying the occasion if not the result!
In readiness for our 10th year celebrations in 2019, our members asked for polo shirts to be available for Christmas. Time was spent getting both the badge design and style of shirt correct. The emphasis was on a quality material that looks smart rather than the cheapest possible option. 35 have been purchased so far at the reasonable price of £20. We will be taking a further order late January to Early February. The feedback on the quality has been great, but sizing is a little bit comfy, so some might need to order the size above.
General fundraising has been a major success. This has included the now regular football card at games when a few members are present. It has become pretty easy to sell 60 teams, which gives a £30 profit, so thank you to all that help out. Mark Braham kindly donated a Jack Baldwin Pools shirt that he then raffled. This brought in £100 with the draw due to be made soon.
We have had numerous interviews on the site featuring former players and a few personalities from around the Club. These have been light-hearted and popular. Thank you to Gregg Davison for conducting these and I know he has a few more surprises lined up!
Our membership continues to grow, and we now sit at 35 paid members, our record year to date. In addition to this we have many that meet up with us on a regular basis. New members are always welcome and your £10 will go towards helping HUFC in some way.
Our website is now far neater and organised, with a section for purchasing both memberships and merchandise. It also features our history page thanks to Sam Sengelow.
SEP member Alan Fisher is also a huge Leicester City supporter. After the tragic death of their Chairman, Ben Forbes donated a HUFC shirt that he had got both supporters, players and officials to sign. Along with some flowers we purchased this was laid at the King Power Stadium by Alan.
At the start of the season we set a rather ambitious target of raising £500 to hand over to the HUFC Youth Academy at the end of the season. I am stunned to say that we already have around £1,000, with more events still to take place.
Upcoming in the New Year will be our Hartlepool Weekend Trip for the Dover game in March. We will be taking on the HUFCSA in the Corner Flag on the Friday night at both Pool and Darts, feel free to join us. We will also be producing a special 10 Year SEP Pint Glass and Coaster towards the end of the season.
Whilst I have always been proud to be part of this branch, I think this year’s efforts have surpassed even my expectations. This was highlighted recently when a drunken Ben Forbes sent a message to our group chat after the Maidenhead game. He was excited that he was in the pub and people were walking around in SEP items and he had never even met them before. His response was how proud he was at what we had achieved. Well, hopefully we can make 2019 even more special.
Happy New Year.