Bangor FC

RETURNING Bangor FC to the ‘higher echelons of football in Northern Ireland’ is the primary focus, according to the club’s most senior official. In a pre-season update on the future of Bangor FC, club chairman, Graham Bailie, said the seasiders have made great strides over the past five years, not just on the playing field, but in facilities, youth and women’s football and exciting plans for a new green agenda. Mr Bailie said progress is the mark of a thriving club, and he said the Board is determined to deliver success on the field. “We are united in that vision, along with Lee, [manager, Lee Feeney] his management team and the Academy, as we move the club forward.” But he said progress on the footballing front must be matched by the growth of the club to ensure sustainability. The overall message from Mr Bailie was one of a club looking to the future having recovered from a period when Bangor FC was firmly in the doldrums. “At Bangor, over the last four seasons, the club has only moved in an upward direction,” said Mr Bailie. “There has never been a backward step, only progress, so much so that last season the club was only 45 minutes away from moving into the NFL Championship. “This, more than anything else, shows how far the club has progressed and advanced in only four seasons, which includes the curtailed season during the start of the pandemic.” Mr Bailie recalled that five years ago the club had no players, no manager, had no control over the pitch and social club and increased debt. Supporters were disenfranchised, season ticket sales were non-existent and Clandeboye Park was in a state of disrepair. “But our progression as a club, over the past five years, has been steadfast,” he said. “Supporters have seen how we have improved and cleaned up the ground and set up a new youth football academy, fielding over 150 young people in yellow and blue colours for this coming season. “We have introduced mini soccer and under-age girl teams that will now feed into the ladies section. We also appointed Michelle Crawford as the new head of women’s football, which is a key position across the football club. “It must be highlighted that all of this has been completed in partnership with supporters, friends and support from the local community. We are very lucky at Bangor to have people around that care so much and are so passionate about the club,” he said. With sustainability in mind, the club has submitted plans for a new community hub and grandstand, as progress continues to be made on and off the pitch. “Unfortunately, this type of work is often drawn-out and protracted, but it continues behind the scenes by a dedicated team of volunteers. News of any updates will be provided to supporters as progression is made,” said the chairman. The Bangor FC Social club has also continued to be developed and modernised, especially the area around the front entrance to the club. It has been transformed into a contemporary, clean and pleasant area for those using the club and for the local area. The members’ bar and front lounge has also been updated and is being used by more and more by supporters and local residents. “Sustainability at Bangor FC is key to our success as we progress forward,” said Mr Bailie. “That is why we are leading the way with the decarbonisation of the club. We recently finished phase one in this journey, with the installation of a thermodynamic system for our hot water supply. Not only does this system reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide, but it also supports a long term reduction on energy costs. “We are now planning on phase two and three of our strategy which will include solar battery storage and electric vehicle charging points. This will put us in control of generating our own energy and having the ability to use it when’s it needed. This is especially useful for managing energy around our floodlights. “The electric vehicle charging points will provide our local community, supporters and players have access to charging solutions, which is a problem area for electric vehicle owners around Northern Ireland. “As we continue our renewable energy journey at Bangor FC, we will reduce our environmental impact, which supports the sustainability of the club and our local community.” Mr Bailie said Bangor FC will continue to develop as a community based club, with the new football academy and links with schools, churches, youth groups and statutory organisations. “We have strong partnerships with local businesses, not only in the Clandeboye and Bangor area, but across the province. And the social club is being used more and more within the local community. This is only the start and we’re confident that we’ll do a lot more,” he said. The chairman said everything done at the club will be to advance the three new key objectives of footballing progression, community involvement and club sustainability. “When the current board took charge at Bangor FC, our main aim was simple – leave the club in a better place than we found it. But we are ambitious and driven and we want to climb through the leagues as quickly as possible. This aim is still being progressed for the supporters, the local community and the city. “We believe the more we focus on our three key aims, the greater chance we have of making the club an ongoing success. Bangor Football Club will hold its annual general meeting on Monday, August 1st, at the social club, 1a Hawthorne Court, Clandeboye Road, Bangor at 8pm.