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'Huge Increase' In Whitby Town Attendances

'Huge Increase' In Whitby Town Attendances

Published by Karen Liu at 1:27pm 23rd January 2020.

Whitby Town Football Club has seen a huge increase in attendances this season.

The Blues' gates are up nearly 60%, on last term, with two four-figure crowds already, against local rivals Scarborough Athletic and Stourbridge in the FA Cup Final Qualifying Round.

The Seasiders sit on a 582 average; they hosted South Shields on Boxing Day, in front of 878 spectators, with that number smashed last weekend, when FC United of Manchester's visit brought a turnout of 936.

Alex White cleaned up at last season's player of the year awards and is having a strong campaign so far. He feels the semi-pro game is on the up.

He said:

"I think non league football as a whole has more support now than it ever has.

Whitby, as a club, has always had a strong fan base and is getting stronger looking at the statistics.

We always have a good number there watching. It plays a huge part in a club's success, having a good crowd every week, getting behind the lads."

The big defender feels it can affect results too. 

He added:

"There’s nothing more motivating, as a player, than a crowd willing the team on and encouraging from the stands.

We have a great set of supporters. Whitby is the best club I’ve played for when it comes to fans. Hopefully the crowds keep getting bigger."

Goalkeeper Shane Bland brought up his 250th appearance for the Blues at Hyde United recently and has a few ideas as to why numbers are up.

He said:

"I think the change with Eddie Mac being chairman. I think the FA cup run played a massive part why we are getting a lot more younger fans coming to the games also."

Like White, Bland feels the support does make a difference.

"Personally, it lifts me and of course when they come in numbers, we want to perform."

Eddie McNamee was appointed club chairman in October 2018 and one of his first jobs was to help setup a Whitby Town Soccer School, using players who are qualified coaches like skipper Dale Hopson, midfielder Dave McTiernan and keeper Bland, who feels it has made an impact:

"The Soccer School has played a massive part of what we’re trying to do at the club, getting into the community is so important, because it encourages parents and their kids to come to the games and experience Matchday for themselves."

McNamee, who replaced long-serving supremo Graham Manser who had 26 years in the role, wanted to get out and meet local people straight away.

He said:

"The first thing we did was go round all the schools and gave the children free season tickets, then we opened the soccer school and it’s proved successful with the amount of families coming to the games."

Eddie was flanked by then-committee members James Wales and Paul Connolly as he went around all the area's village outposts.

He also feels the club's longest FA Cup run for 16 years, which saw them reach the final qualifying round and make national headlines when goalkeeper Danny Dixon temporarily played up front in a midweek replay, played a part.

McNamee added:

"The cup run with home games against Stourbridge and Gloucester caught the imagination with crowds over 1,000 and possibly a change at the club after all those years with people coming in with fresh ideas helped.

Also three games with FC United of Manchester, South Shields and Scarborough brought three big crowds with a lot from Whitby and surrounding district attending - I noticed a lot of people from towns right up the coast to Skelton and Guisborough attending."

McNamee is looking to maintain the rise, which has seen Town go from averaging below 270 in 2018 to nearly 600 in 2020.

He hopes to have "an announcement soon, with a big change to help us run the club more professionally."

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