Lifelong fan Alice Dewey is helping shape future plans for Cambridge City
Cambridge City have developed a reputation as being a welcoming and friendly club.
The volunteers that you meet as soon as you arrive on matchday are affable and approachable, and epitmosing that spirit is Alice Dewey.
A bit like a whirling dervish at first-team games, she seems to be in perpetual motion, flying here, there and everywhere to try to make sure things are running as smoothly as possible.
With a cheery nature and helpful demeanour, Dewey has become a foundation of the Lilywhites in recent times and a mainstay in the club ‘staying alive’ during their nomadic existence.
With the dreams of a new home at Sawston set to become a reality this summer, the 30-year-old has an even greater role to play at the club which has been as much part of her life as her family.
“I was certainly taken to games when I was a baby,” says Dewey, whose father is club secretary Andy.
“I’ve got a brilliant photo of dad holding me at six months old at the top of the tunnel. Certainly going regularly to games and volunteering, I was a teenager.
“With dad being secretary and fixtures secretary for 30-odd years now, I was helping dad in the office whenever I could, with whatever I could. As a 12 or 13-year-old, I was limited to what I could do but I was certainly running around helping with everything.”
Having had such a long association with City, Dewey admits it is difficult to pick out the first game that she attended, but that the first match of which she had a vivid memory of being present was back in 2004.
“Probably the Leigh RMI game, certainly I know I was doing bits and pieces before that – it’s one that sticks in my mind,” she explains, of the FA Cup, first-round game.
City had fallen behind but Dave Sadler equalised, and then: “It was [Jon] Stevenson that got us through to the next round.
“They all just blend into one, there have been lots of ups and downs.”
As is so often the case with fans, it is not so much the individual matches that stand out, it is more the sense of belonging.
Dewey talks enthusiastically about the prospect of recreating the Legends’ Bar at Sawston – it was a pivotal pre- and post-match meeting place at their former Milton Road ground for fans to celebrate or commiserate together.
With such a long association with CIty, and having taken on so many different roles, it is easy to see why matches become a bit of a blur.
But the depth of the Lilywhites’ meaning to Dewey is clear.
“It is me, it’s part of my blood I suppose,” says Dewey. “With us being there all the time, I wouldn’t know life without the football club.
“Many a time people have said to me, ‘Can we do this?’, but it’s a question of what is happening with football first. I eat, sleep, repeat the football club, and I have done for years. With dad being secretary he will ask me to do bits and pieces, and I will go off and do stuff with the supporters’ trust and I have been involved with that now for 10 or 11 years.
“I have always known the passion, and socialising round it as well, that is important. You’ve got the love of watching the game, interacting with supporters, players but also that social, community feel after the game.
“Even off the pitch when we’ve got events going on, it’s that family feeling. I see people at football regularly more than I do probably some of my family – my mum would certainly agree with that!”
Dewey’s first job was as a teaching assistant, having aspired to be a primary school teacher for a number of years, but she then changed direction.
Having enjoyed helping the club run events and fundraising, she went to work with Kidney Cancer UK as development and project officer for more than four years.
But then Dewey became City’s general manager last August.
“It’s a similar role to some extent to what I was doing at the charity, in the fact of organising bits and pieces,” she explains.
“The commercial and sponsorship side of things is very different, but we obviously, as a charity, had to go out and seek funding, as well as getting the fundraising side of things.”
It is an all-encompassing role which includes so many different aspects.
One part is working closely with Sawston stadium project manager Pat McGowan, another area is sourcing partners with which to work, be it organisations, charities or community groups, then there is exploring sponsorship opportunities.
Maybe it was an inevitable job for Dewey who had started off by helping her dad in the office typing up the team-sheets before handing them out around the ground.
Cleaning and painting soon followed, and then assisting on the hospitality side of things initially, which grew to become events and hospitality manager, then director of hospitality.
It has also been about liaising with volunteers to make sure everything runs smoothly and every role is covered.
“Volunteering is so important. To go and support my team, to help the club progress we need a lot of volunteers,” says Dewey.
“We’ve got some excellent volunteers in the football club and they’re not afraid to get their hands dirty, and will never say no to something.
“There are all sorts of bits and pieces that I think the general fan coming to a game doesn’t realise what some people do.
“I love the fact that we have got that family connection in the football club that we all get involved and do bits and pieces, support each other. We are pushing the club forward.
“Over the last nine years, the volunteers have been crucial to keep the club running.”
As the main stand – what will be the hub of the club – starts to go up at Sawston, you can see that Dewey’s workload will just increase.
But it is all about making the most of the opportunity for City.
“There are a lot of prospects for the football club going forward,” says Dewey. “To be back in our own home, to get on and off the pitch for all of our teams to progress from the girls to the boys, the ParAbility, to bring in more age groups, to support and have that progression up through the teams.
“But to have our off-field business, there are so many avenues for us to grow. We want the club to be back to the heights we’ve been previously, and bigger.”
If the way that Dewey throws herself into a normal match day is anything to go by, then you get the sense that City are in safe hands to make the most of their new beginning. And that is even without taking into consideration her lifelong connection to the club.