Feedback from Heritage and Legacy focus group

On Monday 18 February, BIAS attended the third Focus Group for the new stadium at Lionel Road. This meeting focused on Heritage and Legacy issues. Alongside BIAS, there were representatives from Bees United and other invitees with an interest in the history of the Club. As with all aspects of the move to Lionel Road, the Club’s ability to provide will be determined by its budget and other resources, principally staffing, that will be made available. If resourcing was limited, then there was general support to consider the formation of a “Heritage Society” to be founded by the fans and to run along similar lines to the current Programme Collectors’ Club – to be fully endorsed by the Club nevertheless. Many facets therefore were still to be determined and this meeting would help the Club decide on its policy going forward. A future meeting would then be held to discuss progress. How do fans want to access the history of the Club and Griffin Park? Some believed that future physical reminders of the Club (e.g. “Hall of Fame” placards around the new stadium, new statues, commemorative signage) were the right way forward, but in the age of digital, the ability to use video screens offered a greater opportunity to highlight the history of the Club in a wider context and with more variety. More detailed points were as follows (the Club will provide a full set of minutes in due course):
  • There was discussion around a permanent memorial on the site of Griffin Park, once the new developments had been built. There would then be questions on initial cost, future maintenance, rights of way, access, requests for scattering ashes of the deceased and security quite apart from influence over the developers.
  • There was a discussion specifically on commemorating the final game(s) at Griffin Park and the move to Lionel Road. Ideas aired included transferring the heart of Griffin Park to Lionel Road (i.e. grass from the centre circle), the carrying of an “Olympic torch” from one ground to the other by a number of key Club celebrities and fans, and putting on display the last football to be kicked at Griffin Park.
  • “Brick wall” transfers to Lionel Road were discussed i.e. the existing Griffin Park sponsored bricks, shareholders’ bricks and any new bricks that supporters wished to sponsor, with proceeds passed to the Club. The new North Stand area had been designated for the “Brick walls”. (A “path of names” was suggested, but some commented that the equivalent at other clubs often showed wear and tear very quickly).
  • “Legend” commemorations would be placed at the West Terrace (the new Ealing Road). A suggestion was made that supporters should be asked for their favourite players to be commemorated; another suggested that the more attractive positions such as striker overshadowed less glamorous positions such as full backs and goalkeepers and that this should be addressed. In response, it was explained that the current Hall of Fame in the Hive had been endorsed by the Former Players’ Association against a number of agreed criteria and that this would form the basis of the new Legends at the West Terrace.
  • Lionel Road would have a large electronic screen inside the ground, alongside a number of screens within the concourses. These would enable the club’s heritage to be more dynamic and adaptive through the ability to replay past matches, show famous goals, broadcast interviews with players and supporters (e.g. remembering Griffin Park, their first game, favourite player, memorable goal, anecdotes for away days, etc.). Video would therefore complement the permanent displays elsewhere within Lionel Road.
  • The last remaining season at Griffin Park might be the subject of full TV recording, involving players, club staff and supporters.
  • The new boundary wall could be decorated by Community partners.
  • It was noted that Barnsley FC had used their concourse space imaginatively and was an example Lionel Road could follow.
  • Some commemorative initiatives were mentioned: a cartoon montage of the Club’s history and a metre square model of Griffin Park.
What do we currently have, where is it and how can this be used? If digitised records were the future, then the following were important:
  • to recognise and ascertain what was available;
  • to have an asset register and asset acquisition policy;
  • to have a strategy on accessing material, which might involve a subscription service; and
  • to have a legal framework to cover copyright material and artefacts that may have been lent to the Club, but not necessarily in perpetuity.
More detailed points were as follows:
  • The Club have appointed an archivist to record and index the existing artefacts. (The Club had recently been bequeathed a programme collection running from the 1950’s to 2016. This was currently in storage and would be catalogued by the Club as part of this exercise).
  • With the reduction in space at the new stadium, the opportunities for a permanent display were probably limited. Alternative venues should be considered (Gunnersbury Park hosted an exhibition of memorabilia in the 00’s) and it was also suggested that both Boston Manor Park House, Brentford and Pitshanger Manor in Walpole Park, Ealing, both of whom had benefited recently from grant funding, might be approached.
  • It was recognised that many supporters had their own memorabilia, including programmes which predated the 1950’s. If there was to be an appeal to fans to provide items for the Club, then it would be necessary to determine a specific framework for such acquisitions including ownership, price, future storage (especially whether hard copy or digital wherever relevant), copyright and other legal aspects.
  • It was suggested that a “Heritage Society” be formed along the lines of the existing Programme Collectors’ Club, were BFC unable to commit resources to this area. This would be run by the fans but would receive full endorsement from the Club. Maintaining artefacts would remain the responsibility of any new Society or its members.
  • A “thirst” for history and understanding legacy issues needed to be gauged and then encouraged, particularly amongst the younger demographic (both in age and number of years supporting the club). With digitised records, online access would be desirable.
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