What football club do you support?

It feels like a simple question, but when you start asking people you realise the possible reasons for supporting any football club are endless. As a London-based market research agency, you might expect most of our team to support London clubs, but after a quick poll we found quite a bit more variation.

Most of the reasons as expected tended to be family-related, but a couple were a bit more random:

“Brentford- because I like the logo”

“When I was 10, Derby (managed by Brian Clough at the time) won the European cup. I’ve supported them ever since.”

(NB Derby has never won the European Cup, and certainly didn’t when Brian Clough was manager. We think he’s thinking of Nottingham Forest…)

One thing people generally agree on is it’s good to support a local team, so with that in mind, we decided it would be fun to go down to the closest club to our London Bridge office and sponsor a game. This happened to be Fisher FC vs Deal Town on March 14th in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division. Fisher is a member-owned club in the 9th tier with a focus on community with over a hundred years of history in the area, so it felt appropriate to throw ourselves behind the fish.

To ramp up the excitement during the day, a few of us felt it would only be proper for us to pay a visit to another local institution with over a hundred years of history in the area and went for lunch at M. Manze’s Pie & Mash Shop on Tower Bridge Road. Having opened in 1902, Manze’s is a living piece of London heritage and always a memorable experience. Pie, mash, liquor (not to be feared) and plenty of vinegar is a great way to break up a day in the office, and did a lot to get us in the mood for football later.

After an excruciatingly long game of darts in the office, we hopped on the C10 bus and shortly arrived at the St Paul’s Sports Ground, home of Fisher FC (and Millwall’s women’s team). It didn’t take long for some of us to realise the Instagram-worthiness of the ground:

With the towers of Canary Wharf looming in the backdrop, we took our place in the “VIP section” of the clubhouse and tucked into our complimentary food and drink. This consisted of a very reasonable burger and a selection of craft beer locally brewed at the Bermondsey brewery Anspach & Hobday. Everyone at the club was incredibly welcoming and we even managed to get a quick chat in with Fisher’s manager Ajay Ashanike who gave us a tactical preview of the match.

Suitably fed and hydrated, we took our place in the stands amongst the Fisher faithful for the start of the game. Deal Town, wearing a striking yellow and purple kit (apparently designed by a child) quickly showed why they were 2nd in the table and on an 11-game unbeaten streak and scored in the 3rd minute. Having traveled a very long way for a Tuesday night game, Deal understandably found themselves losing control of the game with Fisher dominating much of the rest of the game. Unfortunately despite creating a lot of good chances, the score stayed 1-0 to Deal and the Fish came away from the game pointless. On balance, this felt like a fair result as Deal dealt (ha!) with the task with admirable professionalism.

However, that wasn’t the end of the story. Alongside our complimentary food and drink and the right to have our logo on the match programme, our match sponsorship came with the privilege of handing out a player of the match award. Despite the disappointing result for the home side, as a group, we felt that Fisher’s central midfielder Michael Junior Sarpong put in a very positive performance and deserved the £50 Amazon voucher we’d brought along for the occasion. Whilst we took several photos of our managing director Ben handing Michael the voucher, we thought it’d be funny to use one where he’s gazing lovingly into his eyes for the club to tweet out.

As a company, we do quite a lot of work with different sports organisations, and recently have been doing work related to grassroots football. We’ve always enjoyed this side of our business and hope to do more in the future, but when you spend your time looking at data in an office, it can sometimes be easy to feel slightly detached. The best research happens when researchers can have empathy for the people at the heart of it and our visit to Fisher was a valuable reminder of what sport provides us. Clubs like this provide an environment for people to get together and feel a part of their local community. We shouldn’t lose sight of this.

Overall, despite the result on the pitch we had a great time at Fisher FC and are already making plans to return. We’d like to thank everyone at the club for making us feel welcome and wholeheartedly encourage any other nearby businesses to consider sponsoring a match!

You can read the match report here.