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Last Updated: Monday, 12 February 2007, 22:45 GMT
Fleet call-up shows personal touch
By Pete Oliver

Taking a phone call
Gravesend and Northfleet provided a shining example of customer care at a time when it appears supporters do not always figure too highly in the thoughts of football clubs.

When the Conference club learned last Saturday morning that a power failure near their ground had knocked out the floodlights, they brought forward their kick-off time against promotion rivals Morecambe for 1430.

Fleet quickly advertised the change through the BBC and other usual media outlets to notify their fans.

But also, director Bob Gunton took it on himself to ring round the club's season-ticket holders to make sure they would not miss the start, even though their attendance would not have boosted takings on the day

Gunton told BBC Sport: "A few people started ringing up to say they had heard a rumour that the game was kicking off early and asked if that was right.

"We explained the situation and asked them to spread the word and then I had the idea to phone all our season-ticket holders.

"I didn't actually realise we had quite so many!"

If I'd had any long chit-chat I would still be here now

Gravesend director Bob Gunton

Gravesend have 210 season-ticket holders but with some sharing the same house, it reduced Gunton's number of calls to around 160, all made by himself from the club's Stonebridge Road ground.

"I started at about 12.45 so the Mr Ashbys and Mr Burns had plenty of time but by the time I got to Mr Wilson and Mr Young it was about ten to two.

"I had to be very brief and just tell them it was Gravesend and Northfleet here and that the game was kicking off early. If I'd had any long chit-chat I would still be here now," he said.

Gunton, who combines his role on the Gravesend board with his job as a supply teacher, tracked down fans from as far away as Ipswich and Hemel Hempstead and thinks that almost all made it for the advanced kick-off.

Only a handful were still outside the ground after 2.30pm and by the time Morecambe equalised to make it 1-1 at quarter-to-three the attendance was virtually at its expected figure of 1,156.

Having travelled down overnight, Morecambe wanted to see the game go ahead.

Unfortunately for them their earlier than expected journey home followed a 2-1 defeat, which kept Liam Daish's side firmly in a play-off spot.

We have a very loyal support and we value our supporters

'Fleet director Bob Gunton

"We were keen to get the game played, particularly as we are on a good run at the moment. And we have got a lot of games piling up and we didn't want to re-organise another one for mid-week," Gunton added.

"The result made us feel even better. If we had lost 3-0 and we had got all the supporters there I might have wished I hadn't bothered.

"We have a very loyal support and we value our supporters," Gunton added.

"We want them to come back next week and we want the season-ticket holders to renew for next season.

"We don't have mass support but we do appreciate the people who come in. They do their best to support us and we make them as welcome as we can."

SEE ALSO
Daish hails players after victory
11 Feb 07 |  Gravesend and Northfleet
Gravesend 2-1 Morecambe
10 Feb 07 |  Non League


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