*Unity ... Altrincham's players show their support for Andy's Man Club by wearing special t-shirts prior to kick-off against Wrexham. Picture by Jonathan Moore.
Altrincham FC are throwing their weight behind a nationwide campaign to tackle mental health issues among men of all ages.
Andy’s Man Club came into being almost five years ago when, without the slightest warning and at just 23 years old, family man Andrew Roberts took his own life.
It was April, 2016, and soon after, in a selfless act prompted by the inner turmoil he had kept hidden from her, his mother Elaine Roberts helped set up a support group in his memory, calling it Andy’s Man Club and holding the inaugural meeting in the family’s home town of Halifax.
It attracted nine local men, all grateful for the chance to unburden themselves in the company of fellow-sufferers. A week later, 15 turned up for the second meeting, and the numbers have continued to rise since, to the extent that hundreds of men now gather on a weekly basis at groups the length and breadth of England, Scotland and Wales.
At the last count, there were 28 branches of Andy’s Man Club across Britain, but the number is about to become 29 after Altrincham FC community manager Simon Dow gladly agreed to open the doors of The J.Davidson Stadium to a cause born out of personal tragedy.
Weekly sessions aimed at encouraging men aged 18-plus to share their worries or anxieties with others and help reduce stigma about the condition are just days away from starting at Alty’s Moss Lane headquarters.
There was a welcome show of support from Alty’s players, who, along with their opponents, wore Andy’s Man Club t-shirts with the message ‘It’s ok to talk’ during the pre-match warm-up at Tuesday night’s Vanarama National League fixture with Wrexham.
It was an initiative intended to underline backing for the scheme from the club as a whole and demonstrate the importance placed on community matters at The J.Davidson Stadium.
‘We are delighted to be able to support an amazing new group here at Altrincham FC In the Community and the opportunity it brings for men in the area,’ said Simon Dow. ‘I remember meeting with Dan from Andy’s Man Club two years ago, when we first discussed bringing a session to Altrincham FC.
‘The idea behind the programme is brilliant, and there’s no doubt it serves an essential purpose, especially with the impact the pandemic and resulting lockdowns have had on people’s mental health.’
Alty director Rob Esteva, who organised the wearing of t-shirts by both teams on Tuesday, commented: “It is great news that Andy’s Man Club is coming to Altrincham, and we’re delighted to be hosting sessions at the club.
‘It is so important to have the right setting for tackling mental health problems, where people will feel comfortable opening up, and that is what Andy’s Man Club provides. I would urge anyone struggling with any issue to come along and feel the benefit of talking to others and getting their feedback.
‘The local community has always been an important part of how we operate as a football club, and we have been acutely aware of the potential for harm to people’s mental health in these difficult times we are going through.
‘If we can spread awareness locally of the great work done by Andy’s Man Club, whether by the t-shirt initiative or publicising the launch of a group at our stadium, then so much the better.’
A cordial welcome awaits all at these free weekly sessions, to be held at The J.Davidson Stadium every Monday from 7pm until 9pm, starting next Monday, February 15th.
COVID guidelines will be in place to ensure the sessions can run safely and within Government Guidance for support groups.
For further information or to book a place, please email [email protected]