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Telford will be prepared to welcome fans

By Lewis Cox | AFC Telford United | Published: | Last Updated:

It is when something is taken away that you realise just how much it means.

AFC Telford United fans gather for the Bucks’ final match at the New Bucks Head before football’s shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic

And AFC Telford United envisage supporters coming out in their droves when spectators are given the green light to watch National League North football.

“Myself and the board have spoken intensely about it, ultimately the football club is bigger than anything else,” said AFC Telford manager Gavin Cowan when asked about the club’s plans.

“We have cut our cloth accordingly, we have reduced the budget, not a huge amount but we have. I was very accepting of that and also took a pay cut.

“It’s not just in the here and now about how we deal with it (Covid-19) but in the coming months.

“We expect that supporters, when given the green light, will come out in huge numbers, probably more so than ever. We’re working hard to make a safe and comfortable environment for people to come and support their team from close range.”

Just when that is remains a pertinent question. It is not yet clear when the 2020/21 National League seasons will get under way – though it is unlikely to vary too much from the late-August/early-September restart aimed for by the EFL.

The next question is about fans. How many will be permitted inside the stadium?

Football at the top level will take the lead. It is likely that a staggered return with a reduced capacity will be in order. There has been suggestions it could be 2021 before we see a small percentage of supporters in stadiums.

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The absence of their club may have brought a real thirst for football in Telford, but it is unlikely that will be quenched for some time.

The New Bucks Head’s official capacity is 6,300. Twenty per cent of that is what the Bucks have brought in, at a rough average, for home games in recent years.

Club staff and volunteers have spent several evenings sprucing up the New Bucks Head, carrying out odd-jobs to ensure the stadium is in the best nick possible for whenever it is needed.

The community seldom fails to rally when Telford football needs it and Cowan, a champion of such matters, expects the same again.

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He adds: “In essence, supporters prop the club up, which is why I’m very passionate about community. We are relying on investment and more supporters through the gates and that helps us survive.

“That’s why I’m talking about everyone playing their part, not just me and my staff, players, off-field staff, the board, it’ll be local businesses and community.

“It’ll be about how much we want this football club to achieve, not just from a regional perspective but a national perspective to get us back on the map.”

Cowan has spent time during lockdown brushing up on his Telford history. What can be achieved inspires him.

Not that the Bucks boss hasn’t witnessed it first-hand, both as a player and manager at the club. Play-off charges, FA Cup runs and cup final successes have shown the hunger to achieve is palpable.

“I recently watched the full 90 minutes of when Telford played at Everton in the FA Cup at Goodison Park,” Cowan said, describing the February 1985 fifth-round clash against the star-studded holders and eventual top-flight champions Everton in front of 47,402 and 11,000 away fas.

“In recent years, my first season, we were able to create some memories and as a player we created some memories but we want to keep replicating those eras and creating more memories for supporters.

“There’ll be no-one stood on the podium at the end of it, it’ll be a collective effort. I’ve seen it as a player with two-and-a-half to three thousand people coming to watch us every week and I believe that can happen again.”

Lewis Cox

By Lewis Cox
Multi-Media Sports Journalist

Sports reporter with the Express & Star and Shropshire Star. Covering Shrewsbury Town and with a keen eye for non-league and grassroots.

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