Sunday 14th August 2005

Fleet looking to attract new fans through community links


The chairman of Kent's sole Nationwide Conference club, Gravesend & Northfleet is hoping they can improve their attendances at Stonebridge Road this season, writes Stephen McCartney.

The Fleet kicked off their Nationwide Conference campaign yesterday, and were very unlucky not to get anything from the game.

Visitors Exeter City stole the three points thanks to Lee Phillips' brace, in a game where both sides had a man sent off by Brentwood referee, Mr R Lee.

Exeter brought an estimated 400 fans to Kent in a crowd of 1,578, but Brian Kilcullen is hoping the club's tie up with Fleet Leisure (formerly Beauwater) will entice more people through the turnstiles at Stonebridge Road to watch the team.

"Our gates over the last three years in the Conference have averaged around the 1,250 mark with 1,050 being home fans and 200 the away contingent," he wrote in his programme notes for the Exeter game.

"We hope this year we can push our hard core support up so that the average is more like 1,500 overall.

"Our links to Fleet Leisure and the associated community work will help us here and we have appointed a Community Development Officer, Chris Baker, to help us with this.

"Along with Ian Docker, he is working hard on further growing our Football in the Community scheme, which will stand us in good stead for the future."

However, Mr Kilcullen admits these are "exciting times" for the club, as they're currently in a transition period to full-time football.

"It's the start of a new season, which is always an exciting time, especially for us we embark on our transition to full-time football," he said.

"Any period of change can be difficult and I would like to thank everyone around the club for their efforts over the summer in ensuring we start the season well prepared.

"This includes the players who came back from their break in good condition and ready to help the club reap the benefits of going full-time.

"If there is no midweek game, we have four training sessions, two in the morning and two in the evening.

"Our part-time players, who are all players we were very keen to keep, have made efforts to attend the daytime sessions wherever possible and must be applauded for this."

Back of the pitch, Liam Daish's side travel across the Dartford Bridge to tackle Grays Athletic (Tuesday) and Canvey Island on Saturday.

They return to Stonebridge Road on Saturday, 27th August when Cambridge United visit.

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