Sometimes you just have to stand up and applaud a rival football club, and a generous gesture made towards visiting Gillingham fans by Accrington Stanley on Saturday marked one of those rare occasions.
In an age when paying supporters at top-flight grounds are left in ignorance while a couple of officials in a soulless industrial park in Uxbridge make crucial decisions affecting the game they have paid good money to see, without the apparent need to offer any explanation at all as to what is actually going on, it is perhaps refreshing to hear that a club outside of the top flight respects and appreciates the effort supporters make to support their team.
It is two hundred and seventy-one miles from Gillingham’s Priestfield Stadium to Stanley’s Crown Ground, and on a day of horrendous weather, which caused the postponement of several fixtures, two hundred and forty-one fans made the arduous trip to cheer on the Gills.
It is also evident that Gills fans would have left Kent knowing their side had yet to win away from home all season, but they were rewarded for their dedication when Steve Evans’ men earnt a hard-fought three points with a 1-0 win to make the trip home a happy one.
They would also have received a lift by Stanley’s offer of a free drink to all those who made the trip, something that the official club tweet announcing the welcoming cuppa said the club made as a token of their respect and admiration of those Gillingham supporters who made the trip.
— Accrington Stanley FC (@ASFCofficial) October 26, 2019
Anyone who has ever followed their team to the Crown Ground will know the facilities remain some way below many of those at more modern arena’s but a warm welcome is guaranteed, and Stanley chairman Andy Holt continues to lead the way in demonstrating how to run a lower-league club sustainably on limited finances while engaging positively with supporters and the wider community.
Accrington’s gesture provoked a great response on social media from fans of several different clubs, all grateful there is still a place in the football world that refuses to take fans for granted.
Perhaps the Premier League should phone Mr Holt to get some tips?
Here is a small selection of responses to the offer of a free drink to travelling fans on Twitter.
A club risen from the ashes and showing other clubs the way. Every success to you, unless of course you play #gtfc
— David Burton (@DavidBu67718114) October 26, 2019
I know I haven’t agreed with everything @AndyhHolt has said – especially certain aspects surrounding the Wanderers – but he seems a bloody decent bloke & chairman. 👍
— Dave Stebbs (@StebsD) October 26, 2019
This is brilliant from @AndyhHolt and the team at Accy!! Proper club!!
🍺 or ☕️ 👍🏻
— AccStanley FC Police (@StanleyFCPolice) October 26, 2019
Touch of class this, thanks very much. Great club and a model chairman @AndyhHolt
— T (@TaylorJ45836692) October 26, 2019
Well done lovely gesture for the Gillingham fans
— john trindee (@jtrindee) October 26, 2019
Amazing wish our club did something like this #bcafc
— SuperBantam (@BradfordCityFC2) October 26, 2019
Brilliant. What a proper football club. Respect.
— Chris Perry (@TW8_Gulls) October 26, 2019
Fantastic gesture from a nice well run club
— kevin wilson (@kevwilson58kev) October 26, 2019
— 🏴[ GAV ]🏴 (@Gav_BFC) October 26, 2019
Top club with a fan & community ethos
— Rob Simpson (@rbsimpson1) October 26, 2019