1874 Northwich club secretary Vicki England tells us how the club have been keeping in touch with their players, coaches and fans during lockdown…

IN these incredibly difficult times during which we are obviously missing seeing our family and friends in person, the 1874 Northwich board have been acutely aware of the impact this has on the fantastic people within our football club.

We have always tried to be as open, welcoming and communicative as we possibly can and it was of course easier when we could gather at the match, at a social event or at a meeting.

We appreciate that football is a release for players and supporters – a lifeline even – and the challenges on many peoples’ mental health have never felt as tough.

We have needed to adapt to try and keep in touch with as many of the ’74 family’ as we can and so, we have embraced the new virtual world and are Zooming away!

Despite football being off the agenda for now, our management team have continued to be in constant contact with our players and do arrange regular online chats to touch base and check on everyone, individually and as a group, and ensure that they are keeping themselves as fit as they can.

The club recently arranged for State of Mind Sport, a charity partner of our league, to conduct a session with our players on improving their mental health and wellbeing. This turned out to be an extremely useful session.

The board manage club business virtually, with board and project meetings being conducted every week.

We have met with our great friends at Barnton FC to progress our partnership and we have even been invited to speak with people outside of the club, who are interested in what we are doing.

Indeed, our latest online meeting was with an enthusiastic university student from Germany, who is writing his thesis on fan-owned football clubs and took an interest in 1874.

Two board members and I spent nearly three hours talking with him about the club last Saturday morning. We were so pleased to do this and engage internationally!

We have been very conscious, however, that we wanted to reach out to our members more and after holding a successful online Annual General meeting in November, we sent out an invite to them to meet and have a social catch-up.

This took place last Friday evening and it was fantastic to see so many come onboard and say hello and it gave those living further afield a chance to join in too.

Everyone was able to find out how each other was doing, how we are all occupying ourselves during lockdown and they were able to hear latest news from the club firsthand.

Our managers and some of the players were part of the session and everyone appreciated this. There was a good amount of banter and we certainly put the world to rights!

The session was extremely positive and well received and everyone involved agreed to make this a regular monthly event.

Until we can get back on the terraces or gather at a social event, this is the next best thing.

We all understand that mental health is another big concern during the pandemic, all the brilliant organisations that support mental wellbeing encourage people to reach out, check on others and talk and this is very important for our club.

And meeting virtually gives people the chance to have great banter, a laugh and check who is really in need of a haircut, me especially!