In the Beginning | The Early Years | Travel | Publicity | General Meetings | Social | Sport | Discipline and Arbitration | Relationship with other Bodies | The Future | In Remembrance


After a somewhat random frequency of early meetings, it was very soon agreed that the Association should meet on the first Monday of every month, or the following Monday if the first was a Bank Holiday. This pattern has remained to this day, despite the fact that Monday is no longer the football-free day which was a factor in its original selection. In line with the anniversary of the very first meeting and conveniently since it follows the end of the season, the June meeting each year is deemed to be the Annual General Meeting at which Administrative Committee elections take place. Within the rules, however, every meeting has the power to take any decision. It has become usual for the June meeting to decide that one in July is unnecessary.

General Meetings have been hosted at hostelries at a wide variety of locations around London and are detailed in Appendix B. As the Association grew, so some of its early meeting places became unsuitable and new venues were sought. Changes of pub ownership or managership have also provoked relocation, as has closure for renovation or the proposed introduction of a charge for the meeting room. Generally, however, the Association has been welcomed as a valuable generator of extra custom on a night when the pub would otherwise be relatively quiet.

It is interesting to note that, after naturally small beginnings with about 20 people present, attendance at General Meetings over our 25 years has been fairly consistent at around 50 people. The original, and welcome enthusiasm which prompted attendance by several representatives from the same club has dissipated but has been compensated by the larger number of member clubs each sending one or two persons. Meetings themselves have been dominated by internal issues, sharing of experience (particularly on travel) and reporting of progress on sports competitions. Although this routine business has often been followed by a general discussion on a current "hot topic", there are some who feel that APFSCIL has perhaps failed to capitalise on the numerical strength its member clubs provide in reflecting the views of supporters to the football authorities. This is evidenced by the relatively few meetings at which the discussion on issues of the day has prompted follow-up action to publicise, or represent to the appropriate body, the views or decisions which emerged. It has been one of the Association's strengths however that the end of a meeting has not prompted mass dispersal but adjournment into informal discussion groups round the bar. Opinion-forming, no doubt, but not in a manner which has offered the Association opportunity for self-publicity.

This low-key external involvement does not mean, however, that the Association has not made its voice heard from time to time. Its representations on travel matters have been covered elsewhere but it was also active on the subject of tickets for the England v. Scotland internationals in 1980 and 1981 being denied to away fans, and on several subsequent issues. It responded to an enquiry from the Football League for evidence to the Chester Committee on league restructuring, to the Football Association on its "Blueprint for Football" and, more recently issued a statement on the proposed takeover by BSkyB of Manchester United. When Luton Town banned away fans, alternative proposals on the controlled admission of away fans were submitted to them for consideration and when the Government became attracted to Luton's initiative and proposed a national identity card scheme for football supporters, petitions were organised both in London and through parent provincial clubs and delivered to the House of Commons vehemently opposing the idea. Representations to Tottenham Hotspur about crowd control led to APFSCIL representatives being invited to provide a visiting supporter input to meetings called by the local police.

General Meetings have benefited from a the attendance of a wide-ranging series of guest speakers over the years. First of these were referees John Homewood and Clive White in May, journalist Leslie Yates in November 1976, former Spurs manager Arthur Rowe in February 1977 and Arsenal and England physiotherapist Fred Street in August 1977. In later years, interesting guests at meetings have included FA Chief Executive Graham Kelly, Football League Commercial Director Trevor Phillips, Christine Gausden of the Football Stadia Advisory Design Council, Steve Sutherland Marketing Manager of the Football League, Ray Spiller founder of The Association of Football Statisticians, the Vice-Chairman of Colchester United, feature writer and programme editor Tony Pullein, football writer Simon Inglis, representatives of both the Metropolitan and British Transport Police, former player and manager Terry O'Neill, FA Referees Officer Colin Downey, referee Tony Ward, Robin Stagg of Soccer Education, David Pouter of "Winger" magazine and former Secretary of Barnet FC Liz Ashfield.

Ian Todd

In the Beginning | The Early Years | Travel | Publicity | General Meetings | Social | Sport | Discipline and Arbitration | Relationship with other Bodies | The Future | In Remembrance