AN EXHIBITION celebrating local grassroots football is now open at a Suffolk venue.
‘In the Sticks’ which chronicles the journey of Clare Town FC during the 2018-19 season is now open at award-winning entertainment venue The Apex, in Bury St Edmunds.
The exhibition in The Apex Gallery, situated on the first floor, features 46 black and white documentary-style photographs taken by Geoff Price (pictured above) during a challenging season for Clare Town FC.
The club survived some deeply challenging circumstances that would have shaken any Premier League club; two changes of manager, a mass exodus of players and even an unplayable pitch.
The grassroots Suffolk football club was established in 1886 and for the past eight years has played in the Cambridgeshire County League.
Photographer Geoff Price recently moved to Clare and was inspired to celebrate something that was occurring at a local level and in so doing discovered that in so-called ‘ordinary lives’ everything happens.
As it transpired, the photographs marked the end of an era for a club which had enjoyed, for several years, a close-knit, family feel. What unfolded was a process of change, a time of transition. They documented the tribulations but ultimately the creation of a firm foundation upon which to rebuild a first team, going forward.
Photographer Geoff Price said: “Back in the seventies, as a lad, I remember my dad playing football for Coleridge Town. Later, as a Cambridge United fan, I would take my camera to capture life behind the scenes at the Abbey Stadium. I found that a ‘typically average home game’ was a myth; each frame captured a beautiful moment of unique theatre. This belief was reinforced when I found myself recently in the drama of another football club, another football season, a return to grassroots…”
The photographs also hint at some of the very real challenges grassroots football faces, up and down the country.
Sir David Crausby MP, head of the Save Grassroots Football campaign summed it up: “Poor pitches, weeks of play lost to bad weather, no changing facilities, no showers, increasing pitch fees, poor families priced out and other families deterred by the shoddy conditions… The result is not surprisingly that participation is falling.”
Not so for Clare Town FC who courageously came through the 2018-19 season regardless of the major obstacles they faced. ‘In the Sticks’ is testament to the resilience and spirit of the players in the face of adversity at grassroots level, and it is also a celebration of the unique Suffolk landscape in which their football is played.
Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture and District Councillor for Abbeygate, Jo Rayner said: “’In the Sticks’ highlights the highs and lows of grassroots football through a series of emotive photographs. The exhibition celebrates the importance of local football, not just to the community of Clare, but to communities across the country.”
Suffolk FA Chairman Phil Lawler said: “It was a pleasure to attend the opening night of Geoff Price’s exhibition.
“Geoff has totally captured the true essence, feel and spirit of grassroots football in a collection of photographs reflecting a year in the life of Suffolk football club Clare Town.
“I would especially like to mention and thank the players, managers and officials of Clare Town Football Club for their contribution over the season and The Apex for hosting this exhibition.”
The ’In the Sticks’ Photographic Exhibition by Geoff Price at The Apex, Bury St Edmunds, runs from Thursday, February 27th until Sunday March 22nd 2020. Admission is free.