Richard Norman, Managing Director of Brand Yorkshire and Chairman of Hemsworth Miners Welfare is a lovely bloke – and a proper business man, writes Ellie Dalglish for “HEM-ATH 360 -Action All Areas.” My TBG colleague, Colin Muncie, reminds me of how Richard generously offered a free meal to the visiting Parkgate supporters when the sides met at the Yorkshire NuBuilds last April. Ninety minutes later, and with an 8-1 home win in the bag, Richard took his turn at the bar too – as a gesture of consolation to the relegated and losing side’s Committee, who needed more than a quantum of solace, writes Ellie Dalglish.
Ellie Dalglish wanted to know a bit more about Richard, who is also a Trustee of the Hemsworth Community Interest Company (CIC), along with Shaun Pugh and Billy Rowett. CIC’s were introduced in 2005 under the Companies (Audit, Investigations and Community Enterprise) Act 2004, designed for social enterprises that want to use their profits and assets for the public good. They are supposed to be easy and flexible to set up, but are safeguarded to ensure a positive impact on the Community.
Ellie wondered what had made Richard want to get involved again with Hemsworth Miners Welfare, after spending time previously with Goole AFC. “I wanted to get involved with another club, but I only wanted to get back with another club if they saw the benefit of creating a community facility and a community club,” Richard told us. “Because of where we are with Hemsworth in terms of the long lease on the land [from Wakefield Metropolitan District Council], it’s given us the opportunity to create that.”
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Richard gets the Community Aspect that so many of his opposite numbers in the NCEL miss by a country mile, and who are interested only in the first team and not where the club has its roots. “The outcomes are about creating a facility that is used constantly, seven days a week,” he insisted. “We’re looking at the possibility of multi-sports, and we want to make sure that everyone in the community can use it – from children all the way through to adults – and to ensure that there are ladies’ sports, men’s sports and children’s sports. That’s what we are actually trying to put together at the moment.”
Richards’s vision for Hemsworth goes way beyond the touchlines. ”I’m involved in trying to create the community asset as well as the football side,” he told Ellie. “We’re looking at developing a school for disadvantaged and disenfranchised children; also bringing Ladies’ football to the stadium in the short term; the possibility of bringing Rugby League to the facility; also developing a youth club at the facility. Whilst I’m involved in things on the football side with the adult team, my main concern is really with the community side and I’m trying to bring in all of my contacts from Brand Yorkshire to help that development.”
Richard’s vision is breathtakingly uncomplicated. “For me, everything in the football club is about community. I don’t want the club being seen as just a team, it should be seen as a community football and sports club – that’s open to being used by everybody. It’s about the modern way of trying to mix education, health and wellness with different sports for – absolutely – every age and everybody.”
The Hemsworth Chair hasn’t been overly enamoured by the local response; not yet anyway. “Regarding the funding, it’s a matter of looking at local businesses. I’ve been a bit disappointed with the lack of help from the local business community,” he admitted, “however, we’re getting support from the wider community because the wider community can see the CSR [Corporate Social Responsibility] benefits for the club – and for its actual help within the community. That’s what people want to do not just see us as a football team. They want to see a facility that is doing something to help not only children but, well, everybody.”
Richard sees the football side as the tip of a massive Community iceberg. “I’m happy to say that clubs at our level cannot survive long term based just on being a football team,” he warned. “You have to look, as a sports club, to develop different financial strings. There aren’t many clubs that have our ambition in developing a community asset – and that’s why we’re different. At my previous club in Goole the dream was simply to play football on a Saturday – and that’s all it was. It wasn’t a community club. Hemsworth have got six or seven junior teams, under 21s, over 35s, the adult team… we’re moving forwards and we have some exciting news coming up. We’re looking at developing other sports and having ladies’ football, everything! It’s important to get the message out there that clubs like ours cannot survive without becoming a community sports club, long term. It cannot survive without attracting external funding.”
“However, it needs the backing of the local people,” Richard insisted. “We need more volunteers. The volunteers that we have already are absolutely fantastic – but we need more of them. It’s up to the local people to get involved, to get the younger generation coming through the gate. Non-league football is great value compared to professional football. You can come as a family of four people for £15! For £30 you can have a whole afternoon of food, drink and enjoyment of football for four or five people!”
Richard sees the Nu-Builds as a multi-use facility, as the club extends its premises.” The extension is to create more space for match days and to include a school for the disadvantaged and disenfranchised children. We’re also looking at creating provision in there so that we can having more events during the week, add other sports activities, and having businesses use it to hold their corporate events. We look forward to holding our own events there – rather than hiring other venues – and at any opportunities which would generate extra income for the club – and for more Community programmes.”
Richard is looking for support outside the world of football. “We’re looking at partnering with all other organisations,” he revealed. “ We’re already investigating a partnership with people like the Wakefield Trinity Foundation – as we to try and develop a community asset that is available to everybody. We’re willing to collaborate with any other youth or adult organisation in the district who would like to use our facility.”
“Hemsworth Miners Welfare is trying to create a community sports club,” he reminded us. “We want to be self-funding so the facilities can be used by anyone in the community. We want to be there for men, women, boys, girls, the disabled… literally everybody in the community for the long term. It’s about sport and health and wellbeing.”
“And it’s about education too.”
Ellie Dalglish and Colin Muncie would like to thank Richard Norman for sharing his exciting vision with the Bootiful Game. If your organisation would like to discuss forming a partnership with Hemsworth Miners Welfare, please get in touch with the club directly. Richard Norman will be only too happy to have a chat with you!”