Histon FC - the Glassworld Stadium
The Stutes dare to dream
By contributor Ed Bolton
Histon were once a village football team struggling in the Eastern Counties Premier Division. Now they’re chartering planes to fly to fixtures. What’s changed, what will change and what will never change?
Chairman Gareth Baldwin remembers when the first team was watched by just 25 people. He says “the people of Histon and Impington probably weren’t even aware they had a football club”. In the early years he merely “wanted to get into the Southern League” and “make the club the number two club in the Cambridge area”.
Their manager Steve Fallon used to play for Cambridge United. He then managed Cambridge City. Now Histon play on a par with United and a league above City. Not content to rest on their laurels, Steve suggests “there are still steps further up that they want to go”.
However, Gareth wants success to be sustainable. That means the club has to remain semi-pro. He descrbes the decision as “purely financial”, but says they “may get to January and decide that they’re able to go full-time, but we may not”.
The new stand and Cambs FA headquarters
Last year the Stutes smashed their attendance record, getting nearly a thousand fans to every game. It may sound a lot but it's not enough at this level. To push up numbers, Gareth wants to ensure that "coming to the stadium is an enjoyable experience". As a result, the Glassworld currently looks like a building site. That's because they're building the brand new Cambridgeshire FA headquarters along with a 500 seater stand.
If the club was only drawing fans from the immediate area, it could never compete with non-league giants like York and Oxford. They've recently had a director join from London because he "got the bug". Which raises the question, is Histon still a village club?
Gareth says the club's core value is "family and community". Given he runs the club with the help of his wife and some 70 volunteers that's perfectly fair. He also "hopes that never leaves the club". Perhaps it shows in the performances on the pitch. In the last decade, Histon have won more league games than Chelsea for a fraction of the cost.
Histon v Bishop's Stortford
You can have all the goodwill in the world, but it doesn't guarantee that level of success. There's something else going on at the Glassworld. Having talked to a number of people at the club, it seems to be a simple matter of mutual respect. Striker Chris Dillon talks of how the manager and coach "complement each other". Meanwhile, the gaffer reckons Gareth is on a "different planet to any of the other chairmen around here".
Perhaps the domestic bliss is just a reflection of their success. Perhaps reality's about to bite. Gareth remains realistic in his goals. "Getting a football league ground is the first target, staying at this level is quite high on the agenda".
...and he wants to build the volunteer base. After all, "it's such a lovely club to be invloved in".
last updated: 24/07/07
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