Football fans talk about men’s health at Braintree Fella’s Fair

Last night, we took our successful Fella’s Fair initiative to Braintree Town Football Club for an exciting evening showcasing men’s health issues and support.

The first Fella’s Fair ran last year in Heybridge and had an excellent turnout and reception, and this event drew even more attendees. In partnership with Braintree Town Football Club (BTFC), Braintree District Council and Mid and South Essex Integrated Care System, we held a Fella’s Fair at the town’s football ground. The event aimed to foster more open discussion and awareness surrounding men’s health issues, providing a platform for men to engage with health and care professionals in a supportive environment.

Throughout the event, guest speakers addressed players in the changing room before the match and in the clubhouse, shedding light on men’s health issues including gambling and cancer. Health professionals were available throughout the match, providing valuable information and resources. Attendees benefitted from NHS health checks and had the opportunity to speak with various groups offering information on addiction, hearing loss, mental health, weight management, domestic violence and more.

Presentation of a cheque to Prostate Cancer UK

Presentation of a cheque to Prostate Cancer UK
L-R: Braintree District Chairman Cllr Diana Garrod, Errol McKellar, Alan Stuckey, Sam Glover

The event featured on ITV News, with a demonstration of CPR in the background as CEO Sam Glover explained the importance of events like these that take men’s health services to the public. At half-time, a cheque was presented from the club to Errol McKellar, representing Prostate Cancer UK, to help raise even more awareness around prostate cancer. Fans also took part in a raffle presented by Alan Stuckey, Director at Braintree Town Football Club. At the end of the match, Sam announced that Captain Baris Altintop was ‘Man of the Match’.

The Fella’s Fair, which on this occasion was funded by the UK Prosperity Fund courtesy of Braintree District Council, was designed to address the often overlooked yet critical aspects of men’s health. BTFC Assistant Coach, John White, shared poignant reflections on the significance of the event ahead of the night:

“Mental health for me is something that is getting spoken about a lot more than it ever used to be. When I was coming through in the youth team at Colchester in the scholarship side of things, I always thought I had to just get on with this, no matter what happened, just get on with it, crack on, forget about it. The old term of ‘man up’ used to come out from time to time and I don’t know if it’s something that has affected me on and off throughout the years of my career.

“Recently, I’ve had a really close friend of mine who unfortunately took his own life; they found the pressures and stresses of life too much to take. It’s hit myself, his family and his friends extremely hard and it’s something that we are kind of going through together. We meet up and we discuss what happened. We try and be as honest as we can with our feelings and I think that that is something that really, really helps. It’s been tough.

“It has kind of opened my eyes a little bit more to what is going on. And it’s going on around me. I didn’t want to be oblivious to that; I didn’t want it to happen to people close to me, without knowing that I was doing everything I could to keep in touch and check on people, making sure they’re doing okay. It’s a tough time both in sport – where the pressure is high, the energy is high, there’s a lot of expectation – and in the real world outside of the bubble of sport and football as well. There’s a lot of people going through some really, really tough times.”

“For me the Fella’s Fair is a huge thing.  The more we can speak about men’s health, the better it is, and it raises that awareness for those around us right now.”


Man of the Match award

Man of the Match award
L-R: Sam Glover, Baris Altintop, Angelo Harrop

Speaking at the event about his health and the importance of the Fella’s Fair, Baris Altintop, captain of BTFC, said:

“There’s lots of pressure on us as players and managers. Sometimes that can affect us. It’s really good if we can be able to speak about it and be able to learn more about your services. Men should speak out I think, a lot of people keep it inside. What you do is really good, it helps people, it gives people opportunity to speak out.”

Jason Baker, Engagement Officer from Healthwatch Essex, who organised the event, shared why he believes it is so important:

“One of the first steps in tackling men’s health issues, particularly mental health, is normalizing and encouraging talking about it. I want to thank everyone for getting involved, even though the weather wasn’t great. It’s something different to the norm so it’s an excellent opportunity to speak to people which you wouldn’t necessarily get anywhere else.”

Not only was it a big night for men’s health in Braintree, the Fella’s Fair coincided with the debut of new signing Freddie Sears at BTFC as Braintree beat Dartford 2-0, making it an unforgettable night.

Our upcoming Fella’s Fair events will include a comedy night and car show, so keep an eye out for more details…