Kings Langley FC were this week named as hosting the best away-day in non-league football as the club were crowned the inaugural winners of the Football Supporter Federation’s Away Day Experience of the Year award.
The award is an extension of the federation’s ‘Away Fans Matter Campaign’, which encourages clubs to make travelling fans more welcome.
Kings were the winners at step three and then went on to beat Tranmere Rovers (step one), Bognor Regis Town (step two) and Bamber Bridge (step four) to take the overall award.
Recognising that facilities and resources vary at different levels of the game, the federation sought nominations at each of the levels of the National League system for consideration.
A judging panel decided the winning club at each level.
These individual winners went forward for consideration for a national winner and Kings were the unanimous choice of the judges.
Southern League Premier outfit Kings were up against some much bigger clubs, but were clear winners in a tightly-contested competition, the federation said.
Club chairman Jeremy Wilkins was delighted to receive the award and thanked supporters for nominating his club.
He said: “I am absolutely buzzing. We are only a small club and always try to make everybody feel welcome.”
On hearing that numerous Hereford fans nominated Kings, Wilkins added: “Our first game of the season was against Hereford and a large number of supporters were expected.
“We decided to push the boat out and really make sure that Hereford’s fans were made to feel welcome.”
Kings’ director Darren Eliot and supporter Scott Robbins were presented with the club’s award at the National Game Awards, which were held this week at Premier League side Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium.
The federation’s national game officer Andy Walsh said: “We believe that away fans are vital to the health of the game and that all clubs should welcome visiting supporters.”
“Kings Langley were praised by visiting supporters for how welcoming the club is, with supporters of more than one club saying how ‘friendly’ everyone at Kings Langley was.
“On behalf of all football fans we want to acknowledge and thank the club for going the extra mile.”
Evidence gleaned from feedback to the federation’s annual supporters’ survey shows that clubs who make away fans feel more welcome attract more supporters and reap a financial benefit from both home and away fans alike.
Walsh added:“Travelling supporters are vital to the atmosphere at matches and away fans bring additional revenue, improving the financial viability of our football clubs.
“Without away fans, grounds are far quieter, less vibrant places.
“Our award acknowledges best practice and we hope it encourages all clubs to follow the lead set this season by Kings Langley and all of our award winners”