With a network of loyal volunteers under her wing, Tracy Andrews has helped transform the Chelmsford City FC experience well beyond match days.
Words by Charles Wade-Palmer:
Sadly though, after four years of spinning several plates in her far-reaching role as events manager, and then manager from June last year, Tracy has moved onto pastures new.
We couldn’t let her go without celebrating all her hard work which she stressed wouldn’t have been possible without an army of volunteers who she ensured felt valued.
The changes Tracy led are clear to see at the EMG Stadium from fighting to allow pints in the stands to the numerous successful clubhouse events.
“For that I’m proud of and drinking in the stands,” Tracy said. “It took me four days with the police and the council for them to agree.”
She continued: “I wanted events as well like beer festivals which I got a licence for. We’ve got ten beer festivals on the grass behind the stadium.
“We’ve got an outside bar which isn’t just for match days but we use it for big events like Lee Hurst when we got 255 people, so I had three bars open and the little one upstairs.
“We need to thank Martyn Gard who donated the cabin shed, half of it is for the bar, half of it is for the supporters club to sell stuff.”
When Tracy joined the club permanently after a stint helping out a friend on holiday, Tracy brought with her a wealth of experience in hospitality at the very top of the football pyramid.
Knowing what could be achieved at West Ham’s Upton Park, Tracy arrived brimming with ideas on how to maximise event space at Chelmsford.
Her job offer came at an ideal time too, as her career as a swimming instructor took a hit with pool fees trebling.
That was a couple of years before she was tasked with steering Chelmsford out of the pandemic, something Tracy is able to look back on with pride.
Remembering the challenge she said: “After Covid-19 it was really, really quiet. Before matches we’d have like two people upstairs in hospitality so I thought, how do I do this without a website or any communication stuff set up?
“I contacted all the sponsors and said would you like to come up, have a table of eight people on us for us to say thank you.
“We started doing that and it got busy and they didn’t realise it wasn’t just for sponsors, anybody could go up there so word got round and all of a sudden I got over 70 people up there on a match day. It was buzzing.”
“It was absolutely brilliant seeing I’ve done that, that and that. I’ve been absolutely thrilled at how everything has looked over the past few months.”
Of everything Tracy has achieved with the Clarets, it is fair to say that she is most proud of her retention of supporters who continue to give up their time to help out with hard graft and elbow grease.
Making volunteers feel appreciated was one of her early priorities in the role with refreshments to introducing travel expenses.
Tracy said: “I’m really proud that I had a good rapport with them. They’re very, very important.
“Not only do they help match days, on a hot summer’s day they’re painting, rubbish clearing.
“They put all the advertising boards up around the ground, there’s so much they do.
“They do that in their own time. I help them and on match day I give them a little something to eat and drink which didn’t happen before and they’re so appreciative of it and there’s such a lovely buzz between them.
“I’ve had so many flowers and cards and good well wishes from them because I’ve treated them well, they’ve done so much for us.
“They said they’ve stayed at the club because I’ve made them know their worth.
Tracy’s departure will be felt across the club, including those both on and off the pitch. Chairman Steve Shore and first-team manager Robbie Simpson have both expressed their gratitude to having Tracy behind the scenes and are confident she’ll excel in her next post at Boreham House.
“Massive thank-you to Tracy from me for the tremendous work she has done over the last four years, really supporting the club and ensuring it was able to respond to requests to improve facilities.” said Shore.
“The drinking in the stands, the outside bars, the wider ale offerings being introduced are all down to Tracy’s hard work and this should be recognised by everyone.
“As Tracy says we have some amazing volunteers without whom the club would also suffer. I wish Tracy all the best in her new role and the club will be a poorer place without her energy and enthusiasm, thank-you Tracy.”
Simpson added: “Massive thanks to Tracy for all she has done for the first team and myself personally. Lots of luck on her next venture, no doubt she’ll be a huge hit!”
Of everything Tracy will miss about the football club, she says match days can only be beaten by the people who help make them happen.
“I loved match days, absolutely loved the buzz of it,” Tracy added: “I’ll miss most the people who have become friends, colleagues and volunteers who I’ve built strong bonds with, I’m quite sad to leave that really.”