Catching up with our Bishop Auckland club as they reach their 50th session!
On Thursday 10 August 2023, our Bishop Auckland club reached a significant milestone when holding their 50th session since they began hosting fortnightly gatherings in 2021.
We spoke to Terry Jackson, a Director at Bishop Auckland FC, who facilitates the Sporting Memories club at Heritage Park. Terry began by explaining how the club was due to open in 2020, but because of the Covid-19 pandemic only got up and running in September 2021.
“I got wind of Sporting Memories when I heard the most northerly (in England) based club was in Northallerton. We held an initial meeting at Bishop Auckland FC where I said I would take on the running of an the group based at Heritage Park.
“Just as we were about to get ready to open the club after undergoing an induction with Susie Brindley (our Partnerships Director) the lockdowns (for the Covid-19 pandemic) were about to be announced, so at that stage the whole thing went on hold. We didn’t feel it was the right thing to do to start it online and we decided to wait until everything was starting to return to normal. Cue 18 months later and we eventually got our first session running – which was in September 2021, so we are almost two years on now."
The club has been running fortnightly sessions since their launch and Terry reflected on how much the members have enjoyed the opportunity to visit Heritage Park for a chat.
“We have a core membership who are principally local football and cricket supporters. They obviously have an interest in sport, but I believe a lot of the attendees come mainly just to have a chat – which was really the purpose of the club from the start.
“We’re very happy to welcome along anyone who wants to join us and often members bring along their grandchildren, for example, which is nice.”
“Another example I remember of how the club is enjoyed by the members is during December last year, I said to the group do you still want the planned session between Christmas and New Year to go ahead? And they all came back immediately and said ‘yes, we want it on’ – that shows how much they get out if it I think.”
The club has also welcomed a number of guest speakers from sporting backgrounds to share their insights with club members, but Terry was keen to add that he is keen for more sporting guests to visit the club.
“We thought it was sensible to start off by keeping it manageable, hosting fortnightly sessions and seeing who turns up. It was going well to start off with and in the following spring we started to invite guest speakers in - and by my calculations we have had 23 guests so far. That is not far short of 50%.
“We have had some great guests which our club members have enjoyed – I am talking about top level referees from the likes of football and rugby, as well as international cricketing umpires. Also, with us connected to a non-league club we have also had a range of non-league footballers join us as well.
“The guests have been mainly from football, rugby and cricket but we are desperate to get other sports people in from a range of other disciplines, particularly women’s sports – so if anyone in the North East has any contacts with stars from other sports, please do get in touch with us!”
We finished our conversation with Terry by asking him to share what he felt he had learned from running the club over the past couple of years.
“I have picked up a great deal from running the club. Quite a few of the club members I did not know before they joined, but now I know most of them quite well. Also, I am writing a book on a former Bishop Auckland player and I’m learning stuff about him through the members and the memories they have shared of him, which I would have never found it if it wasn’t for our regular sessions.”
The Bishop Auckland club runs alternate Thursdays at Heritage Park between 10:30am – 12pm. If you would like to find out more about the Bishop Auckland club, get in touch with Terry via firstname.lastname@example.org