When Bromley took on Woking a fortnight ago, it was more than just a game for some of the fans…it was an opportunity to reflect on the friendships made through football.
Many of the ‘Bromley Belles’, the Trust’s women’s recreational team, came along to watch before their own training session at Hayes Lane.
Vivienne was one of those in the stands. Vivienne joined the Belles in the summer after signing up to the ‘Football for Absolute Beginners’ course. ‘FAB’, as it was more commonly known, was a five week introduction to women, aged over 18, who had never played football before. The course introduced the basics of football in a friendly, safe and non-judgemental environment.
Vivienne explains, “I grew up in Guildford. In the 1990s, I started going to watch Woking FC with my brother and my dad. Compared with Premier League matches, I loved the community atmosphere; that you could stand really near the pitch; and walk around the ground to watch them attack at both ends. One my highlights was the 1-1 draw with Coventry in the 3rd round of the FA Cup when they were in the Premier League in 1997. But the glory days are far apart – our family Christmas tradition is a Boxing Day defeat to our local rivals Aldershot.”
“But the community spirit of the club keeps us returning. During the first Covid-19 lockdown they phoned up all the season ticket holders like my Dad to check they were ok or needed food and other support – I was really touched by this. A few years ago my twins spotted our captain Josh Casey in Wandsworth Nandos. They went to speak with him and he invited the whole family into the dressing room before a match one Saturday.”
“I’ve been really impressed with Bromley FC – a fantastic club providing opportunities for so many people to get involved in football, both male and female, young and old. Before FAB I’d never played football despite being a fan for so long and count myself lucky to finally train every week with such a supportive group. It’s a long round trip from Wandsworth for an evening training session and sometimes I don’t get home until nearly midnight but it’s become the highlight of my week.”
Vivienne was not the only Bromley Belle watching. Georgie, is another recruit through the FAB programme. Well known on the terraces, Georgie travels home and away and is Bromley’s Her Game Too Ambassador and member of the Supporters Board.
“I have now been a supporter for 17 years – me and my family first started to attend when a dad of one of my school friends mentioned that our local team, Bromley, were playing my dad’s old team, Margate. Since then we have been going to home and away games, and love the sense of family and belonging within the club, and the people we have known over the years.”
“In the last few months, joining FAB and now Belles has been an amazing experience to really play football for the first time. I have met some wonderful new friends and love playing each week! It’s an amazing opportunity, and incredible that females of all ages can play at Bromley.”
The final whistle blows not only on the Belles session but also the Bromley match with Woking take all three points back to Surrey.
Vivienne adds, with a smile on her face, “I enjoyed watching the game with my FAB friends without feeling I had to be segregated in the away end to be safe. It’s quite rare as a woman to meet and make friends with supporters of other National League teams. I look forward to welcoming them and other Bromley fans to Kingfield in February for the return fixture.”
Bromley Belles is the Community Trust’s recreational session which is open to all women, regardless of their previous experience in football. We have sessions that are suitable for beginners to those that are returning to the game. For more information on the Belles and our next ‘Football for Absolute Beginner’ course please contact firstname.lastname@example.org