Gateshead FC is delighted to have been named as FA Community Club of the Year.
The award was presented at the annual Non-League Paper National Game Awards and recognises clubs who have made a positive impact in their local community both on and off the football pitch.
A historic season on the pitch saw The Heed lift the Vanarama National League North title – the first for the club since 1986 – and earn promotion to the National League three years after demotion from the fifth tier.
Initiatives including free tickets for schools in the borough for select games during the 2021/22 season, as well as free tickets for under-16s for the final four games of the season, helped break the club’s record league attendance with 4,129 watching the season closer against Hereford at Gateshead International Stadium.
The club also partnered with Her Game Too to promote inclusivity and equality for supporters of all backgrounds, with female players from local grassroots clubs acting as ball retrievers and players warming up in Her Game Too shirts to raise awareness at a National League North fixture against Kidderminster Harriers.
Gateshead FC Foundation have expanded on their work in the community across the 2021/22 season, spearheaded by former captain, manager and current Community Officer Ben Clark.
The foundation’s free half-term football camps have proven hugely successful, with over 70 children aged between 7 to 12 attending the most recent camp in May at Gateshead International Stadium.
Clark also leads the weekly Junior Heed Club and walking football sessions, encouraging supporters of all ages to remain fit and active as well as forming new friendships.
Gateshead FC Foundation has also worked alongside Gateshead-based autism specialists and club partners Inspired Support, who will represent The Heed when they travel to Spain to compete in July’s Costa Blanca Cup.
“We are incredibly humbled to have been named as Community Club of the Year,” said Chairman, Neil Pinkerton.
“Connecting with the Gateshead community is of vital importance to the club, and we feel the relationship has continued to grow over the last few years.
“On behalf of the board, I’d like to thank all Gateshead FC Foundation trustees for their work in the local community, as well as the club staff, stadium staff, sponsors and volunteers who all work incredibly hard to support and represent the club.
“The club simply could not operate without them, and this award is a reflection of that.”