Trust in Widnes
Trust in Widnes, the Independent Supporters Trust of Widnes Vikings Rugby League Club was launched in a blaze of glory at the Halton Stadium on 4th April 2006 before a packed crowd, including all playing staff and officials of the club, the Trust’s membership, fundraising, community and charitable work continues to grow and grow.
So, why a supporters trust? As long ago as 2004 a few disgruntled fans aired their views via an internet message board with regards to how they could help the club, rather than simply criticising those who were doing their bit. Thoughts, views and ideas were exchanged over a period of time, until the idea of utilising the Government backed Supporters Direct organisation was suggested. Supporters Direct was formed to bring football back to the fans, ensuring that fans had a say in how their clubs were run. Initially not open to Rugby League the Vikings were one of the groundbreakers in their work to extend the access to sports clubs outside of football.
The aim of Supporters Direct is to help people “who wish to play a responsible part in the life of the football club they support and we offer support, advice and information to groups of football supporters”. Change football to rugby and that’s where we are at!!
As with all new ventures, it was initially viewed with scepticism. Who are these people? What are they trying to do? Are they trying to take over the Vikings? Constant open and honest communication and visibility of the projects underway was able to reassure those sceptical voices. The inauguration of Widnes and GB legend Tony Myler as Honorary president also went a long way to giving the Trust credibility.
The trust isn’t simply an Internet based activity. Members use the web for rapid communication and there are lots of ways the Trust can raise funds via the web. However, it is a community based group, run by the fans, for the fans and does not discriminate against anyone.
The Trust aims to act as an umbrella group bringing all the various fans forums together to co-ordinate events and other initiatives to best effect for the Club. To that purpose we now have sitting on the steering committee representatives from the Vikings Supporters Club, The Fanzine, Widnes Heritage Group, Lady Vikings. This has helped maximise the various activities of each group and also improved communication not just between the groups but also with the Club itself!
The flagship of the Trust has been the Fanzine. It’s success has been unparalleled in Rugby League circles. Tommy Morris and his team, who are responsible for the very brochure you’re reading, have established a fantastic “must read” product which is sold out every issue. They are a shining light as to what can be achieved through hard work and dedication. On top of this, it has all been done at a marvellous profit, which will benefit the future of Widnes Vikings.
Our achievements include:
- Donating over £2k for purchasing kit for the service area set-up, freeing up club money to be spent elsewhere.
- Another £6k was obtained from the Local Network Fund to organise a ‘ girls’ tournament for Junior Schools across the Borough, this was done in conjunction with Vikings in the Community This tournament bears testament to how the Trust can work hand in hand with the Vikings to spread the word of Rugby League throughout the area
- The hugely successful buy-a-brick scheme, giving Vikings fans the chance to see their own and family names up on the stadium walls.
- Several forum nights have provided both fun and information for fans and players alike.
- The first annual Trust family day and BBQ at Widnes cricket club was a roaring success.
- The Trust has also made significant donations to Halton Haven, Leukaemia Research, as well as working with the Supporters Club on a fund raising night for Stuart Martin who was forced to retire from the game, because of an eye injury sustained whilst playing for the Vikings academy.
- Coming soon at a school near you, will be a series of one day fundays, run by the Vikings in the Community and funded by a grant obtained by the Trust from the Community Foundation for Merseyside. These are intended to help schoolchildren see the benefits of sport and outdoor activity to help reduce stress, as well as offering a celebration of the end of in school tests and assessments.
- The Trust, in conjunction with the Vikings Supporters Club, is sponsoring both Academy sides for the present season, as well as sending them of to enjoy a day with the Army as part of their build up for the season, John Stankevitch will be using it as a bonding session for the lads
If you haven’t already done it, join the Trust today. We are constantly looking for both new members and volunteers to help come up with and support activities and fund raising schemes to ensure the future of Rugby League in Halton is secured for evermore.