Reasons 2b Cheerful

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Terrace Trash - January Editorial

A new year comes and it is hard to believe 2001 could be a whole lot much worse for City than 2000. Of course things could actually get worse, but we don't want to spoil the festive fun with gloomy contemplation of bankruptcy and playing in the Hellenic. 

It is credit to everyone still coming to Meadow Park that we are still there. Let's face it, most people aren't and the disappointing loss of support is just one of our many problems. Relegation rarely brings attractive football and although we've had the odd high point and the rare skill spot to enjoy this has been a thoroughly horrible twelve months. Even a wonderful cup run ended with defeat snatched from the very brink of the First Round in front of a tellingly low attendance. 

Off the pitch there is still widespread mistrust of the board, the club is still prone to embarrassing cock-ups like the farcical AGM and of course there are extensive crippling financial problems that will take time to sort out. There has been the unsettling emergence of Gloucester United, feared as a cuckoo in the nest and adding to fans' sense of uncertainty in City's long-term future. Dirty linen and personal vendettas have been needlessly dragged through the employment courts and left the club's reputation in tatters. The ongoing dispute with two unpaid former players leaves our current team without contracts and the manager powerless to prevent his better players being poached by wealthier clubs.

As a final indignity nature then gives us a good hard boot in the knackers. Pouring rain and freezing temperatures have caused havoc to the fixtures across the country, but no where can argue they've had it worse than us. Eight foot of stinking floodwater postponed fixtures and stuffed our precarious cash flow situation at a normally lucrative time of year. Although the general environment of Meadow Park has degenerated the ground and especially the pitch had remained top notch, now even that lies under a layer of slime. It has really not been a happy time.

We can however choose to remain upbeat. There is plenty to be pleased and optimistic about if we put the effort in. Given the budget we have our team still has good players who we know are capable of far more than they have so far delivered. We're in a stable mid-table position with over half the league season to go, and have only so far really seen one team, Mangotsfield, who were genuinely better than we are. We've beaten Tiverton, Evesham and Rugby and matched Hinckley away without hitting our best form. We won't mention Paget or our habit of throwing away the lead at this point. We've also got some good young players in the likes of Thorne, Hines, Cox and Steadman. With confidence in themselves they'll be more consistent and we won't be all that far off a top six side in a division where the teams are much of a muchness. And after last season's depression now at least for all that you expect us to concede goals you also expect us to score.

And off the pitch things could be worse. However suspicious we may be of what is going on behind the scenes there remain possible safety nets for the club. The FA's involvement in checking our finances is a plus, as are rumours of the club searching for a new buyer and the continued interest of outsiders in the long-term survival of the club. Our youth team continues to produce promising players despite the fragile state of the parent club, and the arrival of an ambitious ladies team will help the club's future and community profile. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the fine detail the access road to Meadow Park is a step closer and has always been seen as crucial for the future growth of City.

Despite the drop in attendances I was surprised to realise that only Tiverton and Gresley have higher gates than us in our division this season. The main reason for my optimism is that despite the dwindling numbers we still have a good hardcore of committed fans who care passionately about City and who if we stick together will make sure we keep struggling on. We have good people working hard at the moment, and however sad the current divisions are it is comforting that there are able people standing by to help. Even if the worst happens Gloucester City would bounce back. As the new President of the USA said, "If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure." And what ever else has happened, the club is still there - and many of us weren't sure that would be the case at the start of 2000.

So cheer up and have a happy and healthy 2001 - whatever, but hopefully in part because of, the future at Meadow Park.

January 2001