Thursday 7 July 2011

North West Sussex Seagulls Meeting

NWSS Supporters Club - 2nd Meeting
Shots Bar, Horsham
Wednesday 6th July 2011

Yet another well attended meeting of the NWSS supporters club was held at Shots Bar in Horsham this evening. Andy Stonestreet reported that he had interest from around 100 people and the membership was now standing at 70 fans with 34 confirmed and paid for coach bookings already made to date. It was anticipated that the club would reach their target break even figure of around 45 seat bookings fairly soon and with ad-hoc bookings the club was confident that numbers would be sufficient. The largest coach can seat up to 59 passengers with a smaller coach option of a 45 seater. It was unclear on the night if there would be enough members with match tickets for the forthcoming Sussex Senior Cup Final to warrant hiring a coach as this was the first Amex 'ramp up' event with the crowd capacity limited to 10,000. Those that wanted to book seats for the Eastbourne Borough, Spurs and Gillingham games were asked to email Andy with requests for the number of coach seats required so the club could determine the need and viability of booking a coach.
Paul  Chandler spoke about the social side of the club and invited members to come forward with any ideas or suggestions they may have for social gatherings. Amongst Paul’s suggestions for the club social events were a bowling evening, an Amex stadium tour (particularly well received), a Dark Star brewery tour (yes please) and a possible tour of Wembley stadium. He also outlined the route the coach would be taking.
Special guest for the evening was PC Darren Balkham who is the full time police officer attached to Brighton & Hove Albion FC. He gave an interesting talk on policing policy at the Amex. It was good to get an insight into how Sussex Police will be meeting the challenge of managing 22,000 football fans and the associated traffic that comes with them on match days. It would seem that the local Bobbies will be taking a mature and sensible view to policing and will not be too heavy handed in their approach.  Darren Balkham clearly has an understanding of what methods work best in dealing with the modern football fan in today’s society which is somewhat different to the way football crowds were managed 30 years ago. He seems to have a forward thinking attitude and approach and wants to treat supporters in a sympathetic and grown up way. Both sets of supporters will be encouraged to mix and behave sensibly on a match day but should there be any troublemakers they will be dealt with promptly and effectively. With CCTV all around the stadium the Sussex Police will be able to respond very quickly at the first signs of any unrest around the ground. 
Simon Oakley and Dan Smith from Seagulls Over Burwash attended the meeting and put forward a suggestion to form a Federation of Independent Supporters Clubs which would be an affiliation of all Brighton & Hove Albion Independent Supporters Clubs. This would then give Albion fans a voice and any concerns or recommendations could possibly be aired at regular meetings with Albion club officials and Sussex Police. This was well received and will be investigated further by Simon and the NWSS committee to see the feasibility of such a project.
NWSS Membership cards were handed out on the evening and Russ the manager of the Shots Bar offered special discounts on drinks, bowling and other in house facilities to NWSS members who produce their cards when visiting. Shots will also be showing any live televised Albion matches on their big screen TV. The Shots bar staff and Russ looked after us really well during the evening and kept us fed and watered which was very much appreciated.
Okay everyone, get out of your seats for the photo!

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