The Northern Premier League club recently allowed fans back into the Neuven Stadium for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic, with the 2019-20 season abandoned when the Boro were 16th in the table.
A 3-1 win over Chester fostered a feel-good atmosphere at the ground and the work of the club’s volunteers lay at the heart of that success, from maintaining the pitch and painting the lines to pulling pints and manning the shop.
Volunteers are fundamental to the non-league game and Hilton, one of the younger chairmen among NPL clubs, says he’ll never take his team’s dedication for granted.
“Volunteers are the lifeblood of our club and without volunteers, this club – and all clubs at this level – would not operate,” said Hilton, 39, whose club are one of 228 Northern Premier, Isthmian and Southern and Northern Premier League teams to benefit from GVC Holdings’ launch of grassroots sports investment programme Pitching In – an initiative with volunteering at its heart.
“Volunteers are imperative – there is absolutely no way to work without volunteers in a non-league football club. Without them, there is no football, it’s as simple as that. We have to look after those people and encourage more to come.
“To be able to invest in those people through Pitching In is just a completely new way of working, and it’s a massive shot in the arm for non-league football and will allow us to bring even more volunteers into the game.”
Jacqueline Cumpstey, a devoted volunteer at the Boro, added: “I love it and really enjoy it – for anybody that hasn’t done volunteering, if you’ve got an inkling, just do it as it will make you feel good.
“Radcliffe is massively important to the local community – that’s what gives you such a buzz. “Everybody loves it even if it’s a good day or a bad day, and there are so many things that you can get involved in”
Volunteers are the lifeblood of the non-league game but the non-league game is also the lifeblood of English football, with Pitching In’s flagship partnership with Trident League clubs promoting and supporting grassroots sport after the Covid-19 pandemic.
The multi-million-pound, multi-year investment programme will deliver vital financial assistance and is supplemented by an emphasis on community volunteers pitching in and contributing themselves.
A Pitching In volunteering scheme will be established to help strengthen community ties, with clubs also having the opportunity to apply for grants to ease the financial strain of lockdown.
The programme has also grabbed the attention of football royalty, with former England captain Stuart Pearce offering his support having started his career at Wealdstone FC.
The long-term ambition for Radcliffe? The north-west lives and breathes football and Hilton reckons GVC Holdings’ support can help the Boro scale the EFL heights.
“The long-term future for this football club is full-time football through the non-league system,” he added.
“We’ve got big ambitions here and we’re working really, really hard, so full-time football into the football league is the ambition.
“Pitching In will really help us achieve that – it will help us bridge the gap and work to understand what we can do to bring more people to the club, both volunteers and fans. It will help us underpin what we’re doing.”
GVC is launching a new multi-million-pound investment programme, Pitching In, designed to support and promote grassroots sports and is being launched with a flagship partnership with The Isthmian, Northern Premier and Southern Leagues - collectively known as The Trident Leagues. For more information visit: https://gvc-plc.com/PitchingIn