Family is certainly at the heart of Burton Albion Football Club, and as the Brewers get ready to kick off their second historic season in the Championship, the Burton Mail was given an exclusive chance to meet the team behind the team on the pitch.
While the likes of John Mousinho and Jackson Irvine are thrilling crowds on the pitch, there are a huge number of staff making sure that the club keeps ticking off it.
From tickets and finance, to the Brewer’s academy sides, no stone was left unturned as we found out a bit more about the people who keep the club going.
One thing was very clear on our tour around the stadium, the ethos of family is a top priority at the Pirelli ahead of the 2017/18 season. The venue is set to be packed on Saturday, August 5, when the Brewers play their first match against former Premier League side Cardiff City.
Matt Hancock is the head of community at the Burton Albion Community Trust and he explained about the different things it will be implementing this season to get the little Brewers flocking to the Pirelli.
He said: “We are starting some family activities so there is going to be some held in the new community building at the far side of the ground before games. There will also be games on the 3G pitch for children before league games, running from 1.30pm until 2.15pm.
“We’re trying to become a lot more family friendly on match days and we see that as part of our role. We are looking to introduce a dedicated area for families and children, we are working with the club, particularly in the North stand, I think in block J to become a family focused area.
“We want life-sized pictures of Billy Brewer, where kids can measure themselves up against and goal keeper gloves, so kids can measure their hands against the goalkeeper playing on the pitch.
Matt also highlighted improvements to club's Junior Brewers programme, which is open to children aged up to the age of 15.
Those involved receive a membership pack and can experience an exclusive Pirelli Stadium day experience with coaches from the club.
The scheme has skyrocketed in popularity since the club's football league success, going from having roughly 40 members two years ago, to now having 117 youngsters signed up and ready for the new season.
The drive to involve younger people from across Burton has been mirrored by Dan Robinson, academy manager for the youth teams, at Burton Albion.
Dan explained that even throughout pre-season, the younger teams try to emulate what the senior squad does to ease the pathway into professional football.
He said: “During this 'off season', we’ve managed to get all of our facilities sorted out, so now almost all of the youth teams training is held at St George’s Park, alongside the first team. All of our ages are now taking part in fixtures in the football league and the U18s are on a pre-season tour of Holland.
“It’s so important to us to try to replicate as much as we can from the first team, so all of the activity that goes around the club gets linked to us.”
A traditional match day experience is not complete without a visit to the club shop, which is packed with everything from Brewers' scarfs to home shirts, which no Albion can can be with out. And shop staff have been busy getting ready for the start of the season.
Suzanne Royston-Webb is the retail co-ordinator at the club and has been busily working away while the players have been on holiday to set up the shop’s brand new website, which can be found online here.
She also outlined the new merchandise coming to the shop’s shelves this season. She said: “We’ve got in some new novelty items for the shop, some new mobile phone covers, which we’ve never had before and a nice autograph book, for the younger ones.
“We have tried to get a few more things in for the young fans, so hopefully they can get some signatures when waiting for the players to come out before and after games.
Suzanne also explained that handling shirts at the club is not a simple process, as there are currently six different shirts worn by the various teams at Burton Albion.
“The academy have their own kit, the community trust development team have their own kit, and then there is the players' kit, both home and away. And also the playing staff have their own kit, and also the warm up kit that the players wear before games,” she said.
Fleur Robinson, the commercial director at the club has highlighted the incredible work that goes on behind the scenes at the club, especially as the new season is about to get under way. She is also the daughter of club chairman Ben Robinson.
She said: "We are a small off-the-field team, we have grown with the club and now have got to this slightly more pressurised environment. It really is quite a unique place, because some weeks we'll have two home fixtures and are all go, when others can be quite relaxed with only one away game."
Fleur also wanted to draw attention to the work done by the hospitality department on match days, which last season served 30,000 people at conferences and events held at the stadium.
The Pirelli Stadium sits on Princess Way and can hold almost 7,000 fans on a match days and last season saw roughly 120,000 people flood through the gates in the team's first season in the second tier of English football. But there would be significantly less people in the stands if it were not for the efforts of Jodie Barks, the ticket co-ordinator at the club, it seems.
She has spoken of how busy the club gets behind the scenes during the off season.
She said: “We’re so busy at the minute, the first few games in August are already on sale and season ticket sales have been fantastic again this year, so we’ve been busy issuing those. With Saturday as the first home game of the season, it’s going to be pretty busy.
“We’ve sold a little under 2,000 season tickets at the moment, roughly the same as last year. It looks so good seeing the club stay at the level we are at in terms of season tickets.”
Jodie is a six-year veteran at Burton Albion, having first joined when the team was two divisions lower, in League Two. She added: “When I first came here we were in League Two, and now here we are in the Championship. We’re busier than ever, but it is really fantastic for the club; but even more so for the town.”
One thing has become synonymous with Burton Albion and the Pirelli Stadium throughout the journey up the leagues and that has been the immaculate pitch.
And groundsman, Simon Marshall has revealed exactly how much goes into the work that goes into creating the perfect pitch for the start of the new season.
He said: “Each year we do a pitch renovation, which consumes most of our summer. We have to strip off the pitch and start from scratch again. We then seed it and grow it back in and hopefully as we go through the season it strengthens up and gets better and better, and better.”
The Brewers kick off the new Championship season against Cardiff City at 3pm on Saturday, August 5, at the Pirelli Stadium. Keep an eye out for the Burton Mail LIVE blog that will be keeping you up to date with the game.
And, of course, come you Brewers!