Chairman’s Report - AGM - 09/07/2008
Some background - In 2002 I joined the Exeter City Supporters Club Committee and became their Disabled Supporters Representative and with the backing of the Supporters Club I set out to change peoples attitudes towards disabled people and to make sure disabled supporters were treated fairly and in 2003 I became the football clubs Disabled Supporters Representative, Exeter City has come along way since 2002 and I truly believe that attitudes has changed greatly and we are treated fairly.
In 2007 I set the wheels in motion to see if I could setup a Disabled Supporters Association so that disabled supporters would get a greater say in what happens at Exeter City and in turn this would benefit Exeter City and with the backing of the Supporters Club and Football Club (not forgetting the help and support of Frances Farley - ECFC Operations Director) I was able to go ahead and set-up Exeter City Disabled Supporters Association and on 18th April 2007 our first meeting was held and a committee comprising of all the attendees was setup and in doing so we became the first and only Disabled Supporters Association in the FA Conference and one of only 26 or so in the country within football.
June 2007 - A £5 membership fee was set, Colin & Margaret Atkins donated £***.** to ECDSA from a raffle of a painting of the Napoli sinking.
July 2007 - Rules, Aims & Objectives were approved. ECDSA & ECSC joined forces to collect supporters old mobile phones for recycling with a 50/50 split of funds raised.
August 2007 - We welcomed a new committee member. Bertie Cozic was asked and accepted an invitation to become our President. In our first two months we had 16 members. ECDSA was officially launched on the 27th at the Weymouth match with Bertie receiving our first membership.
September 2007 - We sponsor Bertie Cozics sock ties. We took over the payment of membership to NADS (National Association of Disabled Supporters) from the Supporters Club on behalf of ECFC, One of our committee members stands down because of ill health.
December 2007 - One of our members passed away and a condolence card was sent to the family. We started to collect supporters used printer ink cartridges for recycling with all funds going to ECDSA and this was still on top of collecting old mobile phones. Committee member (Les Knight) kindly donated five sets of waterproofs for our disabled supporters that use disabled area 5 in the Big Bank Stand as this area is exposed to the rain. We welcomed a co-opted member to the committee to help us understand the issues that Blind & Partially Sighted Supporters may have plus Exeter City FC were working closely with RNIB on setting up the Soccer Sight Project at Exeter City which includes Vi Football and the installation of a Dedicated Vi Match day Commentary Service.
January 2008 - Vice-Chairman Colin Atkins had arranged to do a raffle and some committee members offered to get extra prizes for the draw, we had a very successful bucket collection at the Oxford United match and 50% was going to the James Gould Trust. Two of our wheelchair supporters were poorly treated at our away match at Torquay United and I had taken the matter up with the Devon FA / FA Conference and NADS (National Association of Disabled Supporters).
February 2008 - We handed over £***.** to the James Gould Trust from our bucket collection. Myself and Colin Atkins represented ECDSA & ECFC at the Disability Equality Seminar which was held at Wembley Stadium and we (ECDSA) were the only association made up of volunteers only. Les Knight became our Press Officer. I became Disability Liaison Officer instead of Disabled Supporters Representative for the football club.
March 2008 - Myself, Colin Atkins, City Players Bertie Cozic and Neil Saunders plus Dick Bedford and one of his players from the Ability Counts team attended a Disabled Young Peoples event held at Broadclyst Community College on behalf of ECDSA & ECFC and in which was a great opportunity to get publicity for ECDSA & ECFC as a community club. ECFC with the RNIB (Soccer Sight) launches the dedicated Vi match day commentary service.
April 2008 - Raffle draw went very well on the 12th. We have 31 members which is great for our first year, compare that with the DSA at Liverpool FC which has been going for 3 years and has only 100 members. Committee member (Steve Gazzard) donated a Shield for the Most Improved City Player which was won by and presented to George Friend for a great season. We had bricks included in the Exeter City Brick Scheme with the wording 'ECFC Disabled Supporters Association' which is located the club shop side of the new education centre. We’re getting a Portable Induction Loop for our Hearing Impaired supporters to be used in the club shop and club offices and will be in place before the new season.
As you can tell It’s been a very busy first year for ECDSA and what an amazing year it’s been, who would of thought that in our first year our football club would get promoted back into the football league beating Torquay United in the Play-off semi finals on the way and myself being voted 'Supporter of the Year'.
Finally, I would like to thank all the committee who have given up their time and have worked so hard for the benefit of our disabled supporters and thanks also goes out to all our members for their support throughout the year, Exeter City Football Club for allowing us to use the facilities for our meetings and Bertie Cozic for being a great President.