On 1 November 2005, I instituted the first meeting of what would become the York Garrison Wargaming Club. There was three of us and we went to the pub.
Last week, YGWC had three sessions, one each on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. It has a membership of more than fifty wargamers and far more than that attending regularly. It has a large, active committee led by the brilliant Ben Wagner who has stuck to his guns through challenging times and who, far more than me, is responsible for the club's current glory.
In fact, Ben's current plans for the club are how I'd like to end this phase of the blog.
You see, quite a long time ago, I painted for Ben my vision of the ideal club: a group that could afford to buy or rent its own permanent venue to be a place for events, tournaments, competitions and perhaps its own little retail corner. I fondly imagined even, perhaps, a licensed bar...
Now, I need to make it clear that I wasn't planning for this idea. It was, to me, a pipe dream: a fantasy that was possible in some weird alternate reality but not in York.
Last time I looked, Ben believed that he was two-thirds of the way to having a club income sufficient to make renting their own, permanent venue on a nearby commercial park. As well as the thrice-weekly meetings, the club has monthly all-day events and has plans that make me believe that YGWC is going to be an exemplar of wargaming clubs and what they can achieve.
Which brings me to the end.
Because whilst I've moved away from York, my own involvement, inspired by Ben, has taken a step in a fresh direction. I have recently been appointed a "Castalain Knight" of the Gaming Clubs Network (that's a regional representative to you and me), so my hope is to take what I've learned from YGWC and from networking with other club leaders, hobby veterans and the worthy Knights Council of the GCN to enable as many people as I can to start wargaming clubs of their own, or to help existing clubs fulfil their own visions.
I don't want to make every club into a clone of YGWC. The circumstances in York meant that they were able to take the club in the direction they wanted, and that's the crucial thing. So I'm going to be visiting local clubs over the next few months, talking to hobbyists and finding out what they want from local wargaming.
I'll report back what I discover here and, of course, to the GCN. If you'd like to help or participate, just drop me a line!