Andy's Man Club at the Etihad Stadium is now well under way. It is a free weekly men's peer support group that is available to men or individuals identifying as male over the age of 18.

The charity was formed to tackle the issue of male suicide, which is one of the largest causes of death in men under the age of 50, with the North West one of the worst affected regions. 

To discuss the journey towards opening Andy’s Man Club at the Etihad Stadium, Danny Wilson, Managing Director - Manchester City Operations, sat down with Luke Ambler, Chairman and Co-Founder of Andy’s Man Club. 

Luke began the discussion by reflecting on the founding of the charity, highlighting that it was experiencing his son’s reaction to news of his uncle Andy’s suicide which started the journey.

“One of the hardest things I’ve ever been through,” said Luke. “And at that moment I realised that other families shouldn’t have to go through this. So that’s always been the driving force behind it. 

It’s what makes us want to contribute to open doors and that’s why it’s so vital what you’re helping us do here at City.” 

As the charity moves towards its eighth birthday this month, Andy’s Man Club at the Etihad Stadium is now one of nearly 200 groups across the UK which support more than 4500 men each week.

Turning to the journey at Manchester City, Danny highlights the manner suicide can affect football fans, the families and the wider community. 

He said: “I’ve got good relationships with a lot of supporters and people write to me day to day and ring me and I know only too well the challenge we face. You see it around the country, the minutes applause at football matches have become ever more frequent and quite often, it’s down to tragic circumstances.

“We’ve got a responsibility here and looking round at what those opportunities could be, I don’t think within football or within sport for men there’s a better opportunity than working with Andy’s Man Club.”

As the conversation progressed, Luke stressed a key part of Andy’s Man Club is repositioning the conversation around mental health. 

“Mental health, even though it’s stigmatised, is always about negativity,” said Luke. 

“But, if we were talking to footballers or rugby players about physical health it would be ‘How do we get stronger? How do we get fitter? How do we get faster?’ So when we talk about mental health, it should be ‘How do we get more self-confident? How do we become more patient? How do we become more calm? How do we get more self-belief?’

“And that’s what we want to do at Andy’s Man Club, we want to change the message. It can be a positive thing, mental health.” 

In reply, Danny moved on to highlight his hopes for the engagement of Manchester City fans, alongside the local and wider community with Andy’s Man Club groups.

“Sport is about competition, it’s about rivalry, but on issues like this -it’s not,” said Danny. 

“Everybody comes together and it’s about doing things collectively, learning from each other, working together for the greater good.”

“And I think that’s the case in Manchester. We’re opening up the doors of the Etihad Stadium, we’ll be doing that every Monday night. And we want our supporters who want to go and want to participate to join us.

“It’s an open door, we’re not going to be turning people away. The more that come, if they’ve got challenges and they can come together - the better it’ll be.

“But it’s not just about City fans in this local area, I think we’re the second club in Manchester, there’s a lot of clubs around Greater Manchester as well. We want to support the wider community as part of this.

“This is one time when sport isn’t about competition, it’s about togetherness.” 

Concluding the discussion, Luke highlighted the importance of tackling suicide across the Greater Manchester area. He went on to say:

“It’s going to be positive here, I can already feel that and we’ve got a deep gratitude to all of you, yourself and all the team here that are really pushing this because Manchester needs this.

“Just when we launched the partnership and what we’re doing here, I personally got a message of a guy who’d lost a friend who was a City fan. It’s about the fans who’ve lost.

“It’s about about the fans who’ve lost friends and whether you’re from North Manchester, South, East, West or Central - this is for everyone in Manchester and Greater Manchester.”

For any of those reading this article who may be interested in finding out more about Andy’s Man Club at the Etihad Stadium, the charity and City have collaborated on a ‘need to know’ article.

To find out more about Andy’s Man Club, click here.