Martin Allen and his staff welcomed three fans to a training session last week, where they were treated as VIP guests.
Supporters Sue, Andy and Mark, who won the prize at a Q&A session in May, spoke to the boss over a cup of team in his office, observed a team meeting and had lunch with the players after seeing them training hard.
Mark said the experience was “an eye opener”. He added: “I didn’t expect to be made as welcome as we have, in Martin's office and the team meeting. I really appreciate that.”
Sue also found the session very interesting, saying: “I’m finding out things I didn’t know and it's good to see behind the scenes. We hear so much about them being really good in training and it’s nice to see how it all comes together.”
Andy enjoyed seeing the discipline side of things. He said: “It was interesting seeing them all assembling and being told what the manager expects of them.”
The boss highlighted the importance of the fans. He said: “Everyone’s talking about new signings and centre forwards, but I think the most important signings are the people who sign-up to get new season tickets.
“How powerful would it be if we had seven or eight thousand people in that stadium giving it full backing for our players. These people are crucial, absolutely crucial.”
Allen also spoke about the search for new players, commenting: “We are searching high and wide to bring players in but there’s no panic if we don’t get anybody in. We’ve still got good players in this squad that can go play up front and around the front, so we’ve still got lots of options.”
After enjoying lunch alongside the players at the stadium, the trio looked back on their day. Sue said: “I’ve really enjoyed the day. We’ve been made very, very welcome by all the staff, players and management.”
Sue feels confident going into next season. She said: “We’ve seen them (the players) doing a very hard training and it's given me great hope for the season to come.”
Mark echoed those thoughts, saying: “They’ve been really friendly and really polite and made me feel very welcome. I’ve been surprised by the competitiveness of the five-a-side in training. Fingers crossed it continues into the season as we all need a bit of a smile.”
Andy praised the attitude of the players and also has a good feeling for next season, saying: “Seeing how the players work really hard and the enthusiasm they show, I genuinely feel that the club has turned over a new leaf and can only prosper next season.”
They all praised the manager as "excellent" and "first-class". Andy also commented on how well he connects with the fans, observing: “He has the right psychology as to how to encourage fans to relate to the club.
“He is somebody that can get the best out of players and can only do good for the club after all the traumas of the past three seasons.”
Check out this video of the three fans on their VIP day.