After three years as Chairman at Arlesey Town FC, a step five side based in Bedfordshire, I have taken the decision to step down.

My association with Arlesey is a longstanding one, I grew up on the other side of the farmers field that separates the stadium from my parents’ house, I watched them become the smallest club ever to win the FA Vase at Wembley in 1995, and I played in the first team for two years before being signed by Cambridge United in 2001.

I always wanted the opportunity to run the club for two reasons.  Firstly, because I owe it to Arlesey to try my hardest to improve the club.  Secondly, to cut my teeth in a position where my own ideas around running a football club can be implemented.  In that regard it has been one of the most important and rewarding football chapters of my life.

For example, youth team football is extremely important to me, community clubs especially should always strive to create teams for anybody that wants to play.  But saying and doing are two different things, because there is a problem in football that permeates the entire league structure and becomes more acute the lower down you go: Money!

Each of the nine youth teams I’ve put in place from a standing start costs £12,000 a year to run.  In spite of that hurdle we took on three girls teams at the start of this season and seeing them become part of the Arlesey family is something that gives everybody at the club a great deal of pride.

Arlesey is a village.  In fact, we claim to be the longest village in the world, certainly in the UK.  So raising money is a challenge.  When I arrived, the club was losing money hand over fist, attendances were down and there were no youth teams.  Together with the committee, I came up with a strategy to help the club become sustainable well into the future, it all hinged on a brand new 3G pitch.

Our 3G planning application continues to gather momentum with sponsors and subsidies helping to pay for it.  Selling time slots on a year round surface enables the club to make money from private hire as well as expanding its youth teams.  More youth teams associated with the club means more families which means more fans and more ticket and bar revenue.  Build it and they will come.

In readiness for this, the club embarked on an extensive renovation of its outdated clubhouse and now has the most spectacular, modern facility anywhere in the surrounding area.

I’ve learned a huge amount during my time as Chairman of Arlesey.  Just like my football career, I climb the steps in front of me as and when I’m ready to take them.  Everybody is always in such a rush to get to the summit of football, but for me, learning about the game from the ground up is absolutely priceless.

It is these ideas, contacts and expertise that I’d like to bring to another club more local to me.  I’ve often said that Berkshire is a hotbed of footballing talent and has the fans and the businesses to make football work to an elite standard.  Ideally, that would be at Reading, but while the current owners are there that will never happen.

Speaking of Reading, it's another massive game on Saturday at home to Shrewsbury.  I’m old enough to remember playing at Gay Meadow, the former home of the Shrews that lapped the River Severn.  You might recall seeing pictures of the groundsman paddling about on the pitch in his canoe at various times of the year when the river had burst its banks.

And even when games were playable, the pitch still felt like running about atop a gently heated marshmallow.  In fact it was while playing at Gay Meadow for Cambridge United that I suffered a comical injury.  At some point in the first half Shrewsbury forced a corner, the out-swinging ball was coming right onto my head when suddenly a voice screamed, “KEEPERS!!”  And that was the last thing I remember.  I came too under the gaze of our physio who told me that our goal keeper, Shaun Marshall, had missed the ball with his intended punch, and instead broke my nose and dislodged a tooth.  A fine effort for a pacifist from Norfolk.

Anyway, it’s a big game this weekend and I fancy Reading to take all three points.  So long as we put our heads in where it hurts we’ll be alright!

When I first started this column, I promised to keep you updated about developments with The Dave Kitson Academy.  We have four coaches now, including James Harper, and look set to be taking on a fifth soon to cope with demand.  I’m booked in for sessions until the end of 2024 already, which is incredible!  So, a huge thank you to everyone who has booked coaching sessions with me and our other coaches.