Gillingham FC – is this a great charitable start?

Last week saw us at Gillingham FC for the first game of the season. My husband is a great football fan and has been supporting Gillingham FC (the Gills) for 50 years. We always try to get to the first game of the season because it is a fresh start, new kit, new players and hopefully better results than the previous season.

As we live on the other side of the country to Priestfield, the home of Gillingham FC, every game is an away game for us. We try to make it a ‘holiday day’ so will stop for supper on the way back. However, on this visit and the last of the previous season in May, our journey to get to the game was fraught with delays. We missed the first half of the last game of the year thanks to hold-ups on the M25. It is a motorway that is known as the ‘Road to Hell’ and has even had a song written about it by Chris Rea in 1989. IT is also part of a proverb, the rest of which is ‘…is paved with good intentions’ I’m sure this is applicable  of those who designed this motorway but they have sadly fallen short.

Our delay last week meant we only missed the beginning of the match but the Gills were uncharacteristically quick in scoring so we missed the first goal!

Once settled in my seat with my coffee, I could begin to relax and take in the atmosphere. As I’ve said, there is always a new kit and those keen fans  will buy each edition. I’m not one to think about club merchandise but looking at the back of the shirt in front of me I noticed an addition


Gillingham FC Shirt '15/16

Gillingham FC and Take Heart Mercy Mission

Obviously, the players have their names on the reverse of their shirts but this advertising was different.

There was mention of ‘Take Heart Mercy Mission’ in the programme where the club chairman explained that this charity, created to support the work in Sri Lanka of volunteer doctors and nurses from Evalina Hospital in London, had been chosen as Gillingham FC charity of the year. To be honest I’m not aware of the club having one before but that doesn’t matter. It was so good to see this. Sales of kit and other memorabilia provide a major cash injection to all football clubs. Just ask all those Manchester United fans who subscribe to their international brand. Using it to spread the word for something other than football is a very positive move.

As for the game – well our opponents Sheffield United were obviously in a charitable mood too. They allowed us to score 4 goals whilst not bothering themselves. 4-0 to the Gills was a great start to the season!

Are you a football fan? Does your club use their brand to support a charity? Have you a view on the money that is in football and how it is used? Share below and let’s start a debate!

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  • rubymcguire

    I’m not a fan but your post was still a great read 🙂

  • travelwithmrst

    Oh, in response to Tammy–I’m a Baltimore Ravens fan!!
    I’m from the U.S. –Maryland to be precise (hence the Ravens) where growing up, I wasn’t much of a football, soccer (our term for everyone else’s football!), baseball or basketball. When I had children, I supported their teams, but really just like watching any good match-up, especially World Cup or Euro Cup! Since my husband is Greek, I tend to support the Greek teams, but now living in the Netherlands, I also support them. Since I will move back to Orlando soon, I will also be supporting the new MLS team in Orlando–Orlando City!
    So, to make this once short answer longer (sorry for the rambling), I follow what some of the teams do charity wise on their Facebook pages. I think Social Media has really helped in letting others know what goes on behind the scenes. (Though I do think most professional players make way too much money–just my opinion!)

  • Great post Julia, i’m a huge Aston Villa Fan. Villa raise loads of money for the Acorn Hospices in and around the Midlands and a few seasons ago were the first team to advertise a charity on there shirts instead of some big corporate name and logo. I completely agree with the comments re finance, I follow Worcester Warriors in the Ruby, which Tammy is similar to Ammerican Football, just without all the protective padding 😉

    • I’m married to a big sports fans Mike so know a bit about most of them. I do think it is a shame that we don’t hear more about the good works teams do. Would help balance their persona I think.

  • We have a different Football game in the US. I LOVE American Football. I am sad when it ends with the Super Bowl, but I love each August when pre-season games start. Most teams do much for charity. By the way, I’m a Pittsburgh Steelers Fan. 🙂

    • Tried staying up to watch the Super Bowl Tammy but failed to stay awake. There seemed to be lots of time spent doing nothing! Great to hear that your teams do their bit too.

  • I am a footy fan a loyal blade your charitable contributors last week. But our season started today as we won 2-0. I am fortunate to work at the club on match days too. I think most clubs are charitable to be honest as it is good publicity and they do want to connect with the community. We have a community foundation that does lots of work in the community. There are 3-4 charities that are supported season long and then others that are supported ad hoc. Our former captain is now the reserve team coach and is in his testimonial year. He had a testimonial match pre-season against Premiership Newcastle United and all proceeds were donated to his two favourite charities. Lots of players take part in charity events and such and last season many of the players and the manager slept on the stands with fans to raise funds for local homeless charity. So I do think that perhaps most clubs have a charitable angle and yes I agree that the transfer fees and wages are a ridiculous amount but at the end of the day the clubs are businesses and are run as such.

    • Thank you for the win Elaine! 😉 I’m sure the return won’t be as good for Gills! I’m so pleased to see from reading all these comments that teams do support charities. Perhaps supporters need to know that then they may widen their support of both the club and the charity.

  • Diana Bensted

    Whilst not a football fan (I prefer the more gentlemanly sport of Rugby) I do think that current fees etc that footballists get, is completely ridiculous!

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