Mitch: Hi guys,
A lot of Hemel fans are familiar with you as they see you at most games and you are very keen supporters. What they may not realise is that AVCO Motors are Hemel FC's longest and most loyal sponsors. All the players training kit and tracksuits are sponsored by AVCO so it’s a very familiar name around the ground.
Can you tell us how and when you got involved with that side of things at the club?
Bob/Alan: Avco Motors have been involved with Hemel Hempstead FC for well in excess of 12 years (may even be 15 Mitch, time flies when you’re having fun), we were introduced to the club by Dean Chance who has been a loyal customer of ours for some 20 years.
Mitch: It clearly means a lot to you, sponsoring the club but in the current difficult climate things are going to get tough for everyone financially.The very strange times that we find ourselves in will hit a lot of business's and football clubs hard. How do you see things panning out after we get back to some sort of normality? Or is it just too early to know?
Bob/Alan: It will be very different after COVID-19 both financially & socially. We have been in business for over 33 years and have a fantastic, loyal customer base, so we are hoping that business returns although it will probably be slow at first as customers have been hit quite hard themselves. Socially we think it will be very different for a long time with social distancing carrying on for the foreseeable future.
Mitch: Do you remember your first game watching hemel? Are there any games that really stand out for you, good or bad?
Bob/Alan: Unfortunately we don’t remember our first game as the occasion was overwhelming because of us being introduced to everyone, I (Bob Piper) have played many times at Vauxhall Road in a number of cup finals. My first was in 1972 aged 14 and we lost 7-1, though the slope was much greater then which is my excuse. I did go on to have success there in other finals which leaves me with many great memories.
There have been many great matches but the one game that stands out for us would be Bury in the FA CUP 2014, great match and day. The team was outstanding, we’ve been to many FA Cup finals and that game stands right up there with all of them.
The most disappointing game would be against Torquay where, unfortunately Laurie Walker was sent off, a very poor decision by the ref, we still felt we were the better team on the day and deserved to win.
As for the funniest moment and its one we still have a good laugh about is when Sanchez Watt got booked and the ref asked for his name. When Sanchez said “Watt” the referee repeated the question, he did this another two or three times until he lost he temper and produced a red card. Nobody could work out what (or Watt) was happening. It took Jordan Parkes intervention to get the decision reversed, Jordan had to explain that his name was Watt and he wasn’t taking the micky! Fair play to the referee, he saw the funny side and was man enough to admit he’d made a mistake and saw the funny side of it himself. All very funny and quite unbelievable, it made national papers and Talk Sport.
Mitch: All Non-League clubs rely massively on sponsors, I'm guessing you have seen a huge step up in the amount of support that local business's give to us. It’s a sign of how the club has moved on professionally in the last few years. Are you still very keen to be involved here and where do you think the club can go in the next ten years?
Bob/Alan: We are definitely keen to carry on with our support and hope other sponsors can do the same. Hemel Hempstead Town FC is run brilliantly and everyone involved is so passionate. We think the football club has a great setup to progress to the next level, with the youth teams and the Academy.
Mitch: Fingers crossed but there does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel, providing everyone remains sensible over the next few weeks. Do you hope to get your business back up and running anytime soon?
Bob/Alan: It has been a stressful time for everyone, as our business is classed as essential and we look after a number of key workers vehicles, we decided to stay open. This did involve a lot of changes for our staff and customers so that we could keep everyone safe, but the gratitude shown to us made it all worthwhile. I agree that as long as people don’t get complacent we should start to see a little more normality returning to life.
Mitch: Where do you think things went wrong after a such good start and how much are you missing football right now?
Bob/Alan: We are missing football immensely, we work long, sometimes stressful hours and really look forward to three o’clock Saturday, where we can catch up with everyone for a well earned drink and possibly a win. It’s a very friendly club and one of the great things about grass roots football is that home and away supporters mix pretty well on the whole, they will chat about the game and league which gives you a different perspective.
We felt that the use of many loaned players upset the balance of the team, we never seemed to have the same team out for consecutive matches, if you take the season when we won promotion to this league it seemed that the same players were used mainly for each game which we felt this allowed the players to gel well together for better results. We had a great squad that season who were all prepared to work for the cause. That’s what you get if you dont change the side around too much. I guess injuries don’t help but we need a balanced and settled squad.
Mitch: What would you like to see the league do with regards the resolution of the final league table? Just void all the games and start again or work out a way of playing some sort of Play Off competition or points per game average to decide who goes up?
Bob/Alan: We feel that all leagues including the Premiership should be void, let’s forget this season and wait for the next one god willing, it’s not all about football in these troubled times, health and safety must come first surely. We may be a bit biased as we have nothing to win or lose.
Mitch: We as supporters always feel that the club is quite close to getting into the Vanarama National League Premier Division. If that happened, how you think we would cope with such a massive step up?
Bob/Alan: If we were to get promoted into the premier division we feel without more sponsorship and investment the team may struggle, I’m sure though, that with promotion and a higher profile we would see more investment coming into the club this may enable the team to draw in a higher calibre of players to cope with the challenges ahead. Lets face it, with Dave in charge anything is possible.
Mitch: On the subject of Mr Boggins, how well do you get on with the Chairman and what do you think of how far he has taken the club? I know he speaks very highly of you and regards you as a tremendous supporter of what he is trying to achieve here.
Bob/Alan: Where do we start, without Dave we don’t think the club could have survived, he has taken us through some tough times when Sponsorship wasn’t so forthcoming and crowds were low. He is so passionate about the club, I mean, how many chairmen do you see directing the car park, greeting fans, stewarding and even cutting the grass?
I’m sure we have probably missed a couple of other jobs as well. Dave has always made us and our wives feel very welcome and there is always lots of families at matches which again is credit to everyone at the club.
Mitch: Kerry Underwood is back as Vice Chairman at the club, which is good news and I know he is desperate to see Hemel have an EFL club one day, do you think that could happen and just how good would that be for the town ?
Bob/Alan : We’re sure with the right investment and sponsorship put into the club that one day Hemel Hempstead FC will be an EFL club, Having Kerry back on board can only push the club in a forward direction. One great advantage playing in the higher leagues would hopefully bring in more sponsorship, larger gates so it would be able to fund improvements in all areas, for which this can only be good for the club and fans
Mitch: Kerry has been heavily involved in the NHS Day at the club. How good is this event going to be.Knowing you guys, Avco Motors will be supporting the day in any way they can and I'm guessing you will be at the game(s) it really should be an amazing day and a great gesture by the club to hold the event.
Bob/Alan: The staff of the NHS have had to endure an unprecedented time and our thanks go out to them and all key workers. I don’t think everyone really appreciates the horror and stress both physical and mental that they have had to deal with over this period. The football club is a major part of the community, and it is fantastic that they can put on an event like this where everyone can come together to show their gratitude. As a sponsor we thank every single person involved in setting this up and would be proud to be part of it, and yes, god willing, we will be at the event.
Mitch: Cheers fellas, this has been great and thanks for taking the time to do this and everyone at Hemel Hempstead Town would like to thank you for your continued and much valued support. Stay safe and, as you said God willing let’s hope we meet up again very soon. COYT !