5:40pm Friday 11th May 2012
By Neil Vowles
Albion supporters clubs are seeing unprecedented growth in the number of fans looking to join.
The season may have only ended days ago but Seagulls fans are already salivating at the prospect of more seats at the American Express Community Stadium and a serious promotion push next year.
Scores of fans have signed up to supporters clubs to join the party next season and plans are in place to start a new group in Southwick.
North West Seagulls Supporters’ Club, which has fans from Horsham, Billingshurst and Cowfold, was only established at the start of last year with 25 fans.
Throughout the season the number rose to 50 fans and this has jumped again to 100 supporters already signed up for next season.
Founder Andy Stonestreet said: “I think there are three reasons for the growing popularity; the club are doing really well, the expansion of the stadium and the fact that people are realising that coach travel is one of the easiest ways to get to the ground and away again afterwards.
“A lot of fans who were getting match day tickets on an ad hoc basis last year have managed to get season tickets for next season.
“I can’t wait until next season, I think it will be great to see the second tier on the East stand and that is just going to add to the atmosphere.”
Seagulls Over Burwash, which has fans from Heathfield, Wadhurst, Robertsbridge and Rotherfield, started with an initial interest of 80 fans and that has grown through the first season to 130.
Secretary Simon Oakley said he was inspired by the memory of his father Michael whose dream it was to form a supporters’ club for fans in that part of Sussex and who died the year before the Amex was built.
He said: “I think we will get up towards 200 members by the start of next season.
“We ran one coach last year but we will be running two next season.
“We have got a lot of younger people who used to follow Premiership teams on the television but are now fully fledged Albion fans.”
Brighton and Hove Albion Supporters Club, which has more than 350 members, has gained about 30 new recruits for next season following a recruitment drive to mark their centenary.
Vice chairwoman Liz Costa said: “A lot of people have forgotten that we existed so our recruitment campaign was a reminder that we are still here.”
The long-established A21 Albion Supporters Club for fans in the Hastings, Bexhill and Tonbridge area has been running since 1991 with more than 500 members.
The club, which focuses primarily on arranging transport for away fixtures, gained about 50 supporters throughout last season and chairman Stuart Adams says he expects more to be added throughout the summer.
He said: “Part of the attraction is going to much better grounds in the Championship and seeing much better teams.
“Most of our group are season ticket holders and the whole Amex experience has been beyond our wildest dreams.”
Have you joined an Albion supporters club? Or does your child or grandchild now follow the Seagulls? If so we want to hear from you. Email email@example.com or call 01273 544530.
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