By Jonny Bray
The sense of community in South Basildon never ceases to amaze local MP Stephen Metcalfe.
And last week, the Member of Parliament for the constituency had the opportunity to thank the devoted team of volunteers that make Bowers & Pitsea’s day-to-day operations possible.
Fans who attended the club’s recent 1-1 Pitching In Isthmian League Premier Division draw against Brightlingsea Regent had their tickets scanned by the MP on their way into the Len Salmon Stadium.
Metcalfe also met several of the club's volunteers, including secretary Garry Neave-Houghting and chairman Barry Williams.
And he said: “I am always so impressed when I go around Basildon at the level of volunteering and the sense of community that there is.
“They cover a range of activities but there is always that sense of coming together and being one.
“So I am incredibly proud of my constituency and my constituents and how they get involved to make their lives and the lives of others better.
“I think volunteering is hugely important, not only to football clubs but to the whole of society.
“It gives us that sense of community, and getting involved, volunteering and making a contribution is great for the club, it is great for your local community and it is great for your own well-being.
“So I am incredibly proud of my constituents and my constituency for how they get involved.”
Bowers fans will be calling on Metcalfe to attend every game after his visit coincided with a 1-1 draw just one week on from a 4-2 defeat away against Haringey Borough.
Metcalfe has a close connection with the club having opened the refurbished changing rooms ten years ago.
And he emphasised his desire to see the wealth of the game reach local clubs.
From bar staff to ground maintenance, turnstile operator to steward, there are countless ways you can help your club 🙌
Stuart Pearce tried a few out on a recent trip to @thameunitedfc!
Check out the Pitching In Volunteer Hub 👉 https://t.co/NggCpneIZg pic.twitter.com/NtqsQb3LPn
— Pitching In (@PitchingIn_) May 19, 2022
He added: “I think it is fair to say that on the whole football is a very wealthy game.
“I think it is important that that money does trickle down to the grass-roots level.
“If we want to continue to be a proud footballing nation then we need to make sure the lower leagues continue to thrive and I think that every club and every foundation has a role to play in that and so I am very pleased to see money coming into the game at this level.
“Football is a huge part of British culture, it brings us together and divides us in equal measure.”
Ladbrokes, with the support of its owner Entain, has launched a multi-million-pound investment programme, Pitching In, designed to support and promote grassroots sports. For more details see: https://entaingroup.com/sustainability/pitching-in/