It’s no great secret that towns and cities need several key elements to thrive: people, businesses and ”things to do”. This may seem pretty obvious, but think about it for a few seconds and you’ll realise it’s true. You’ll also realise that it’s vitally important that all three elements interact with each other to provide mutual support and make the area a great place to spend time (and money).
It’s also no great secret that I love sport. I love the competitiveness, the drama, the story it tells and the feeling you get after playing and/or watching a game. Football isn’t top of my list of sports, but it features high enough up to keep me interested. Here are few words about how and why my business got involved with non-league Brigg Town FC last year.
Working in the Community
Small market towns like Brigg often struggle in comparison to larger, more metropolitan (or perhaps I should write “cosmopolitan”) areas. Whereas they used to be bustling hubs of agriculture and industry, they’re now battling for survival, much like their sports teams.
But that need not be the case.
We chose Brigg as the place to drop the anchor of Knapton Wright in 2016, having spent a year working from a home office and another in a business incubation unit in Lincoln.
Brigg has plenty to offer, is well connected and, as estate agents up and down the land say on a daily basis: “it has real potential.” I often say it could, with some vision and investment, become a smaller version of Beverley in East Yorkshire.
A Chance Meeting to a Long-Term Partnership
For the first couple of years, we got ourselves settled, focusing on turning our social media consultancy into a creative marketing agency. Then, I bumped into a man in the queue for the checkout at B&M. Tucked under his arm was a handful of sponsorship leaflets for Brigg Town Football Club, so I asked him if I could have one.
A week later, Roy and a couple of the club’s new board of directors were in our office talking about a new website, which we’ve worked on alongside our Brigg-based partners Webcetera.
In that crucial and fascinating first meeting, we also spoke about the prospect of designing the Brigg Town’s fortnightly match-day programmes and how my agency could support the club as it reemerged from near extinction.
One of the Country’s Oldest Football Clubs
There has been a football team in Brigg, North Lincolnshire, since 1864. The club is one of the oldest in the country, if not the world, but, like many teams outside the elite level, they have experienced difficulties, particularly on the financial side.
These difficulties almost pushed the club too far, but local businessman Jim Huxford (MD of EC Surfacing) and a handful of dedicated fans have turned things around, setting it up as a community interest company, which means any profit it makes is reinvested into the club.
For a club that has for so long been the sporting pride of the town, supported by football fans and businesses alike, rebuilding the trust was crucial, and over the past couple of years, Jim and the board have done that.
At this point, I should point out that I love sport. All sport. Even sport that some people don’t consider to be sport. So I grabbed with both hands the opportunity to be involved with a football club and help them build the trust of the town again after such a difficult period.
This is not on the scale of Selenity supporting Lincoln City’s remarkable recent rise up the football league; Brigg Town is a small club with modest attendances, usually breaking into three figures, but not by much. And we weren’t about to sponsor a stand or the kit, not at first anyway, but we were determined to do what we could to help…on a pro bono basis!
Working with Our Adopted Home
Why? It’s pretty simple. This area is my adopted home; my children will grow up with Brigg as their closest town and my vision for Knapton Wright is that it forms the core of the creative hub of northern Lincolnshire that sits in this fine old market town.
If we can help raise the profile of Brigg, we will raise the profile of the business and make it more attractive to the talented people we would love to bring in as we continue to grow.
In addition to the marketing work we’re doing with BTFC CIC, we also had a great team day out at a game we sponsored in April (the half time pies were truly exceptional!) and have begun to feel more like part of the community. Personally, I would love to see the club go from strength to strength as my business does the same, but that isn’t why we initially got involved.
We have now launched the new season and are looking forward to increasing our involvement as the first team embarks on life in the Northern Counties East League, a promotion from last year capping a successful season of a cup win, a second cup final and second-place finish in the league.
Building Awareness for a Stronger Club and Town
There are businesses in and around Brigg that have continued to support the club in their transition from the precipice of financial ruin to turning a profit in 2018/19, which is really positive.
The next step is to make more people aware of the great work the club is doing in the community, to get more people into the ground for matches and to keep pushing for success on the field. This is where my team and I come in, and we really are champing at the bit!
If you are a Brigg Town fan, or a Brigg fan, or are just interested in learning more about them, check out their website, take a look at the fixture list and pop along to a game to see what it’s all about.
Towns and sports clubs need the support of businesses and, if you give that support with the best intentions, who knows, it could end up paying you back with interest. And you’ll have a great time along the way!