The Oxford United programme for the Sky Bet League One game against Charlton Athletic this afternoon contains the following notes from chairman Sumrith 'Tiger' Thanakarnjanasuth
Today sees us working with our friends at Mind, so before I talk about football today I would like to talk briefly about their amazing work and how proud we are as a football club to support them.
As you know, Mind are there for everyone and help support anyone who may be struggling with their mental health. We have worked with them for several years now, but I do not think we ever imagined a year like the one we have just had. That has meant a huge amount of stress and pressure for the whole world and organisations like Mind have played a key role in helping people get through the pandemic.
As a club we have a role to play. Fans look to their football club for entertainment and maybe some relief on a Saturday; a game of football is a wonderful way of bringing everyone together and the thing people tell me they miss the most is not the game itself but the chance to meet their friends and to talk. While there are no fans at the ground, we have had to find new ways to support our supporters.
Some of them have been obvious: we have offered mental health tips from our club psychotherapist Gary Bloom, and I really enjoyed watching an interview with Karl and his wife Ann-Marie on the importance of good mental health. We are so lucky to have a Manager who truly cares about people and fully understands the importance of looking after your mental health. We have called elderly fans to check they are OK, our Community team have run a loneliness project to try and help fans who are on their own at this difficult time, and there are lots of other, smaller ways we have helped; I know that I look forward to my Saturdays and having games has given me a real focus.
But I think the biggest thing I have noticed this year is that the phrase ‘the Oxford Family’ is not an empty one. Our fans are amazing and truly look after each other. Mind are there for you if you need them, and we are so proud to support them, but maybe if you read this and think ‘Oh, I haven’t rung my friend since the first lockdown when I checked they were OK’ then today is a good day to do that.
Finally, to talk about football as well, I thought Tuesday night was a very good game of football and our players were full of confidence to match the best team in the league. A draw was a fair result, and we can take plenty of positives from that performance. Now we look forward to welcoming Charlton and I hope we can turn this run of draws into a win.
Whatever the result, look after each other.