City ‘Til I Die

Supporters Trust Launches Search for Fans’ Stories

Your chance to feature in an exciting new book about your experiences of supporting Bristol City Football Club.

Way of life
Following Bristol City becomes a way of life for many of us. At Ashton Gate or traveling away we experience moments of elation and exhilaration which become landmarks in our lives. But as we have discovered only too well, there are also the low points of despair and disappointment when we feel that all our hopes have been dashed and our club’s future has seemed unclear.

Memories of supporters
Bristol City Supporters Trust, in partnership with the National Literacy Trust, Supporters Direct and BCFC, is publishing a new book which will be on sale for Easter 2009. ‘City ’Til I Die’ will reflect the memories and experiences of supporters both young and old. Players and managers may come and go, but it is the fans who give the permanent character to a club like ours. And so as a celebration of the fans, this book will reveal the funny, the absurd, the emotional, the peculiar or unbelievable that is part and parcel of following The Robins.

Your stories
We want to meet our longest standing fan! Who has the funniest Bristol City tale? Who travels the farthest to get to home matches? Who has seen more matches than anyone else? Who are our record breakers? Get in touch so these and many other stories get in to the new book. ‘City ’Til I Die’, real football stories from real football fans… Make sure your memories are included! Storytelling sessions will also be held in the club and around the town as part of the memory-gathering process. Details will be advertised on the club websites.

Please get in touch
If you have a story or set of experiences about either yourself, a family member, a neighbour or friend which you feel deserves to go into the book please get in touch. Either e-mail your 200-300 word stories to david@legendspublishing.net or via www.tilidie.co.uk, post them to 18 Darby Crescent, Sunbury-on-Thames, TW16 5LA or telephone Steve on 0790 6802432 to talk about your story. The deadline is February 14th 2009.

Take Part in a Piece of Bristol City History
The ‘City ’Til I Die’ project is based on an existing concept that has proven very successful at other clubs, designed to capture the personal stories and club-related memories from a wide range of the club’s die-hard supporters. Real Bristol City stories told by real Bristol City fans. Funding for the project has been provided by Bristol City Supporters Trust, the National Literacy Trust, the Department for Children, Schools and Families, the Football Foundation and Supporters Direct. As well as producing an entertaining read, the publication of this book will give a number of benefits to the Club, the Supporters Trust and to the community which they serve.

  • 600 free copies of ‘City ’Til I Die’ will be distributed to local schools, libraries and community groups, strengthening the Football Club’s links with the local community, and encouraging a new generation of Robins fans.

  • All profits from ‘City ’Til I Die’ will go to the fund raising appeal for a statue to John Atyeo.

  • It will present a picture of the changing history of being a supporter through the eyes of generations of fans, encourage a sense of belonging and show what it has meant to be a Bristol City fan through the decades. It will be a positive representation of supporters’ tradition, values and identities.

CITY ’TIL I DIE’, REAL FOOTBALL STORIES FROM REAL FANS…
MAKE SURE YOUR MEMORIES ARE IN THE NEW BOOK!

Fan representation

This is one of the main areas of our work. We set our stall out to represent supporter views to the Club’s decision makers in a forthright and cooperative manner. Our approach has always been to highlight any areas of concern and always propose a solution.

We have been consistent on the transparency of Ticket fees also producing helpful guidance through a ban appeal policy and procedure. Independent and restriction free travel to matches is a principle we uphold, so we worked with the Club, Swansea City and relevant police forces to stop the practice of “Bubble matches”. Working alongside other supporter groups we have been involved in the re-opening of the East End and sorting out issues around the use of flags and associated acceptable wording and graphics.

We continue to represent supporter views to outside decision makers and media where necessary. As well as numerous radio and television interviews, we work with the local press to inform the wider fan base. We are not afraid to challenge. Good examples include questioning who was actually running our football club. When season ticket prices rose by up to 99% for children, pensioners and the disabled, we got involved too. Still baffled and still angry,  board members joined the peaceful protest before the next home game displaying banners saying, “Love the game, hate the business” and “Fans, not customers”.

To encourage the Club to continually review its supporter liaison strategy we produced this guidance and lobbied hard to bring in a full-time SLO. We think they did well with that one!

One of our goals is to encourage wider supporter involvement in the Club from the Boardroom down, including an elected supporters’ representative with voting powers on the Board of Bristol City Football Club. We haven’t fully achieved that yet. However, we urged the Club to continue meaningful supporter involvement at every stage of stadium build or re-development, in a manner that reflects the Club’s heritage. To be fair, they accepted our help and worked with us on various surveyspetitioning of Bristol City Council and demonstrations . Club & Trust officials attended board meetings of Ashton Gate Ltd and worked with other supporter groups on where best in the ground to position so called “singing sections”.

To help bridge the gap between the terraces and the boardroom, we initiated and ran a series of very successful Ask the Chairman sessions in pubs at away games up and down the country with Steve Lansdown. These have been at Derby, Rotherham, Crewe, Wolves, Crystal Palace, Norwich, Bradford and Nottingham Forest, with us helping the Club organise their first one of these at Preston.

We are pressing ahead with our legal claim against the West Midlands Police on behalf of fans who in our view were wrongly subjected to a section 35 dispersal notice before the away game at Birmingham City on 12 September 2015. A judge has been assigned to the case and we expect a case management hearing court date in September 2019.

We see the bigger picture for football fans, so seek to bring best practice from national fans’ initiatives where appropriate. We just so happen to be a driving force for one of them in the shape of safe standing, having been the first ground to install rail seats, albeit for demonstration purposes.

Community

We actively use our website, social media, internet forums and online survey tools. www.otib.co.uk has 16,000+ members (5,400 have posted 10 or more times and 256 OTIB Supporters who pay £5 annually to help fund the site). In addition, our own CRM based membership database has over 9,000 names on it. We continue to meet regularly with Bristol City Football Club and Ashton Gate Limited officials, Avon & Somerset police representatives and other community groups.

Every season we run the voting process to award the Supporters Club & Trust Player, Young Player & Supporter of the Year. The latter is a recognition for at least one individual for all their hard work and devotion to the Football Club over the year(s). Supporters are nominated by fellow supporters and the playing squad get to choose the winner. We pay for personal glassware mementos for each winner, whilst also keeping the trophy inscriptions and honours boards up to date.

To ensure accessibility to all, particularly for new younger supporters, we launched Fans Funding Fans of the Future. Responding to unacceptable price increases, this is where we would fund the season card price increase for any U12 fan in the Dolman or Lower Lansdown if the parent/guardian felt unable to do so. We also launched a Season card purchase scheme for blocks of seats in prime areas, which we make available to U12 fans and their parents/guardians for a variety of purposes each season. We purchase 2 x adult and 6 x under 19 tickets. In the first season, these were taken up or booked for every home game bar one.

We run a very successful match day bar above the Sports Bar at Ashton Gate, which is undeniably a football bar with lots of City related memorabilia. Re-furbishing the Supporters Bar is almost complete. Recent additions include a set of “Honours Boards” denoting the Hall of Fame, top goal scorers and player / young player of the year awards down the years. Using a simple seat booking method, the bar has been used for beam backs for sold out away games and is now open to all fans at half-time and after the game. Commission is earned on bar sales that gets re-invested in to Supporters Club & Trust projects.

In December 2014, Ashton Gate Stadium was successfully registered by the Supporters Club & Trust as an asset of community value under the Localism Act. Put simply, it means it the owner must not dispose of the freehold or grant a lease of 25 years or more without giving interested local community groups the opportunity to put a bid together. Nearly 30 stadiums up and down the country are now registered in a similar way, including Anfield and Old Trafford.

Over the years we have sponsored players shirts and contributed to many appeals for new surfer flags, murals and fan-based initiatives like Red & White Nights. We have run competitions to design flags and new logos. Significantly, we distributed 600 City ‘til I Die books to local schools. These books are a collection of fans’ stories, all collated and published by us

Heritage

The Supporters Club & Trust is delighted to have played the lead role in commissioning the creation of a magnificent, larger-than-life statue to the great John Atyeo at the Winterstoke Road entrance to Ashton Gate. It was made possible thanks to excellent collaboration with the football club and fantastic support from the fans, hundreds of whom dug deep to buy name plaques on the plinth.

In 2007 we honoured the Ashton Gate Eight by getting them all together for a 25th anniversary commemorative dinner. It was an emotional moment when all eight were clapped on to the stage to receive commemorative awards. The proceeds from the evening, which also included an exclusive commemorative programme, were used to fund a uniquely shaped plaque, which is currently being relocated from the wall outside the away end to the Supporters Bar.

We launched the inaugural Bristol City Supporters Hall of Fame. At a fantastic event hosted by Angus Scott and attended by such legends as Gerry Gow and Bob Taylor, the first 13 names were added to the Hall of Fame, in disprsed with a fun quiz between team captains Scott Murray and Louis Carey. More players have since been inducted at a Hall of Fame 2014 event.

The official launch night of the Supporters Trust in 2005 featured a parade of playing legends. The event compered by Jonathan Pearce and Angus Scott was attended by over 600 supporters.

Along the way we have run successful events to commemorate famous FA Cup wins (and losses) down the years including the 1909 FA Cup Final at Crystal Palace, against Leeds and against Liverpool. Reliving that FA Cup win at Liverpool was a collaborative event with the Football Club, raising  money for the Community Trust

Fundraising

The majority of funds, around £14,000 annually, come through membership subscriptions that build up over time. You can join here. £37,000 of our funds is safeguarded in our ‘Share fund’ – which has grown from setting aside 50% of diamond memberships (e.g. anyone paying more than £2.50 per month, or £30 per year). We hold this balance within our deposit account.

Over the years we have turned our hand to fundraising. As well as running a number of events:

Flags (raised and donated multiple amounts)

Legal £1,416.52 (to date)

In memory £900 (total)

Statue £36,000 (total)

Fans Funding Fans for the future £931 (to date)

OTIB supporter £1,280 (annual)

Bar £6,274 (to date)

Sportsman’s Dinner £1,300 (total)

Liverpool FA Cup victory event £850 (for Community Trust)

Ashton Gate Eight Dinner £2,000 (total)