With a new season already well underway I managed to catch up with Hemel Chairman Dave Boggins, to get his thoughts on the new campaign.Always a busy man he was happy to spare me some time to talk about his passion, Hemel Hempstead Town FC.
We started by talking about the improvements being made to the ground over the next few months and those that have already been completed.
Dave said that the new McDonalds Family stand is testament to the efforts of Vice Chairman Kerry Underwood and club President Sir Mike Penning, who have helped give the club a more professional outlook within the community. “One of the reasons I got Kerry and Mike on board was to give the club a new persona within the Town and it has already paid dividends.”
As well as the new revamped stand there are plans in the future to add some extra terracing along the sides of the pitch as well as a new corporate entertainment area behind one of the goals. This area is already used by the clubs Academy and the plan is to utilise it by adding a balcony to the top Portacabin so guests will be able to watch the game form there. Details will be announced soon on how to hire the room on matchdays, the idea being groups will be able to entertain guests both pre match and after the game.
I asked Dave about the work that is going on beside the Directors stand and he said that the club wanted to encourage people from all walks of life to be able to enjoy the football at Hemel FC so there is going to be a new covered enclosure for disabled supporters who will be able to watch the game from a good vantage point and they will get their own refreshment area that they can access easily from the stand. It will be another Portacabin with facilities inside. There will be full wheelchair access to the stand and the refreshment cabin.
Away from the infrastructure side of things I asked the Chairman how he expected things to go this season on the pitch, after the clubs record breaking finish last season.
“I hope we can go one stage further obviously but it is going to be a much tougher ask this time round, with the likes of Woking, Torquay, Dartford, Billericay, not to mention the usual sides who have ambitions like ours such as Wealdstone, St Albans and Welling United, who have all spent money revamping their squads”
With that in mind I asked if we have we increased the budget for the playing side this season ?
Dave: “Yes, we have had to make more money available to try and compete but it won’t be easy with Billericay spending a reported £20,000 a week in wages but I believe the manager can get the best out of the players we have and we will be there or thereabouts come May”
I mentioned the increase in entrance fee had raised one or two eyebrows but he pointed out “this is the first increase in three years and the entry fee includes a programme, which was priced at £2-50, so it remains good value for money, We also introduced a very competitive ‘Early Bird’ season ticket which was available pre-season. This has been very popular amongst supporters who can now watch home matches for just £7 a game if they attend every game. St Albans entrance fee remains at £15 a game which it has been for a few years now and is still more expensive than ours. We also allow under 18’s to attend for £1 if they come with a full paying adult and just £5 if they come on their own. If the club wants to be successful then we have to be able to compete with the big boys, as I said last season, EVERY penny that comes into the club goes back to the club, wether it be on players or infrastructure”
We chatted about players coming and going and he said that its part and parcel of football but he was pleased that the bulk of last season’s squad has remained.
“Continuity is vital to be successful and if you look at our three most consistent players, Jordan Parkes, Laurie Walker and Kyle Connolly, they have been part of this club for a number of years now and they remain regular members of the team. If we can add the right players to the core of the side we will be up and around the top of the table all season. It’s so important that everyone sticks together at the club, from the supporters to the volunteers, who do such a great job and the management team and players. We are all working to the same end – promotion to the Vanarama National League Premier Division. Every team that has been promoted since we arrived in this league has survived and held their own up there. There is no reason to say that we won’t be able to do the same”
As always, Mr Boggins remains as passionate about his adopted football club as he has ever been, we need the people of Hemel Hempstead to start joining us in numbers and getting behind the team. The average gate has increased significantly over the last few years but we need more people to get involved. Ask friends, invite via our Facebook page, via Instagram, Twitter, word of mouth, whatever. We find that once people come along they come again and again so if everyone does their bit then we can go from strength to strength. If every supporter could get 10 people along that would add 500 to the gate !
Remember “Its YOUR TOWN, YOUR TEAM” !!