Guest column with Newport Pagnell secretary Kelly Parsons:
"When I moved to Bucks, 3 years ago, I was keen, no passionate, about finding a local football club to follow and get involved with and one that would suppress my appetite for genuine, good football.
Since about the age of 15 I remember on a Sunday morning going over to the local fields that backed onto my garden to watch Sunday league teams playing. There was something special about watching proper, genuine, good grass roots footy!
It wasn’t long before I found a team that entertained me more than the others and I was over the moon to be asked to help out.
I proudly took charge of the half-time oranges, the magic sponge and bucket of water!
This passion and interest re-ignited when I started to work and support Stevenage Borough (as they were known then), as a member of the match day team.
Stevenage Borough joined the UCL in 1980 and enjoyed instant success in winning both UCL Cup and League division 1.
They then went on with 3 promotions in 4 seasons, being finally promoted to the Conference National in 1994.
Away days as a football fan are magical and none more so than FA Cup games. Stevenage drew ‘big boys’ Newcastle United in the 4th round, Jan 1998 and earned a replay at St. James Park , after a very controversial Alan Shearer goal that was without doubt cleared off the line by Mark ‘Smudger’ Smith.
Stevenage went one step further in March 2015 when they earnt a 5th round replay at White Hart Lane, after a superb 1-1- draw at The Lamex (formely Broadhall Way) a week earlier.
From 2007-2012, for me Stevenage had the team I had seen. Playing with passion, grit, determination and above all PRIDE and that was what I was now looking for in my new team!
Not much to ask for!
The players were a family, but played as a unit on the pitch, the club was a family and pre-match was all about catching a player, chatting, getting an autograph or a selfie! This was a fans club.
As Stevenage rose up the ranks from grassroots from UCL to Conference, League Two, League One....the club changed, players went, new players arrived, management changed and although the club was still family orientated, for me the departing of these players, their mentality, work ethic and ethos meant that it would never feel the same again, almost like an invisible barrier was there between the players and the fans.
So this now brings me to my new club, a friendly, organised, passionate bunch of players who play with their hearts – big hearts!
Newport Pagnell Town FC – "Who?" Is what I said at first, they play in green, hmmmm not sure, nick name ‘The Swans’? But from the first home game I saw back in late 2012 – I knew this would be the club for me.
Plumbers, electricians, builders to name a few, a proper bunch of no nonsense lads who played with passion, grit, heart and soul – proper football!
The thought of Saturday games, home and away and the special atmosphere only a mid- week game can bring were here again, and that excited, impatient feeling you get in the pit of your stomach.
After being welcomed into Newport Pagnell Town FC and now being recognised by the players , other fans and management , it wasn’t long before we (my partner) Peter Keen (pictured in the photo) and I were approached by Club Chairman Mick Stanton.
Mick had heard of our previous dealings at Stevenage FC as they are now known where we both worked for over 16 years in the Club supporters association and Match day administration and operations side.
Mick was offering us both an opportunity to use our passion for football with our wealth of experience and knowledge to help shape an exciting future for NPTFC fans, players and the community.
After a brief spell as committee members I accepted role of Club Secretary and Peter as Vice Chairman, since then we haven’t looked back!
It is so important for all clubs, especially smaller, lower tier clubs to create a welcoming, friendly atmosphere for all fans, and this is what NPTFC already had and what had enticed me back each week.
Since being elected into our new roles and with help and support of the players, committee members and fellow fans we have started a working party that meets every 2 months or so to get ‘stuff’ done around the ground in addition to all the ongoing daily tasks done by volunteers and fans of the club. Areas covered include painting the subs benches, yellow lines, renewing and replacing sponsor boards and additional ground duties like tidying up and cleaning.
There are brand new team photos showcasing the fab new 2015/2016 displayed in the Club house, match day staff passes and a new PA system meaning we can now have music and match day announcements everyone can hear!
All of this has been possible by fans, players and local people giving up an hour or two to make a difference to their club. With all match day staff and volunteers being unpaid and giving up their time for the club, it is important to appreciate contributions big or small and this is one of the foundations of a good community football club.
Saying that, there will always be work to be done and one aspect is looking at increasing our gate….easier said than done. With MK Dons only down the road, we are improving communication links with MK Citizen, MK Online, Phone box magazine and trying to entice more local people by raising the profile of the club.
In our pre-season friendly game with MK Dons the visiting fans and players were very complimentary on our club, with Pete Winkelman giving us nothing but positive comments.
We may not be the biggest or richest club in the UCL or Bucks, but we have what money cannot buy, a team that have Passion, Pride, Determination that play from their hearts.
With a great set of fans to boot!
Kelly Parsons, proud to be Club Secretary of Newport Pagnell Town FC –‘The Swans’ "