Summer Reflections

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Terrace Trash - Close Season Thoughts

The end of the season is just about the best time to take stock and try and look beyond the everyday mid-season worries of someone's sore hamstring and someone else's inability to use their right foot.  

The last season wasn't much to get excited about. The football peaked at ordinary and we drifted through the season with no great passion. Problems weren't corrected and only in the last few weeks of the season did we stop hemorrhaging goals in every game. Fans walked out in huge numbers and the board seemed either helpless or hopeless in the face of a seemingly insoluble debt problem. There was plenty to have even the most sunny optimist counting their pills.

For those of us not inclined to being best disposed towards our current boardroom regime there was plenty of opportunity to be critical. Answers to financial questions were still not all forthcoming and the AGM shambles did look like a group of people trying to bounce something past the shareholders. Players were not paid and yet more left. The club failed to settle old debts and came perilously close to being chucked out of the FA Cup. There were pub teams that looked more professional than City.

Yet looking down from the quiet still mountain peaks of the close season not everything is so bad. The club is still here and we are still playing football. Admittedly the main debt is not decreasing, but enough seems to have been done to keep the hungriest of the wolves from the door. Meadow Park has not yet been built on and the people we suspected to have intentions of running the club down have even been serving in the bar. There are still strange things going on, things still being done badly - but the evidence of an evil plan seems to now be somewhat scant.

Then there are the things to give us some real sense of hope. The appointment of Chris Burns is a very welcome sign that we are still rebuilding for the future. Burns could very well be an excellent manager, at the very worst he is a man who dislikes losing and has good contacts in football at many levels. For once we have bounced back from a potential setback in Tommy's resignation and have still found ourselves at least as well off as were before. Then there are indications that at long last the board may be realising the need to listen to those around them. The introduction of Brian Godfrey and Jason Mills on to the board should at least add a few voices of experience and sanity to their discussions. Add to that a probable Supporters Club representative and you have what is looking dangerously similar to the structure of a modern football club. All that is needed is the cash.

Of course this is no road to Damascus style conversion. Some things are still far from right. Our friendly fixture list reads like the very definition of a wasted opportunity at a time when we still desperately need fresh income. There still seems to be precious little innovation or direction from the club itself, more and more fundraising is being left to the Supporters Club. Only time will tell if enough has been done to begin making a difference to the club's debts. City fans shouldn't feel the need to clam up or to be cowed into failing to point out what still has to be done. However we should also have the grace to welcome what improvements there have been and hope that encouragement of these first steps will lead to giant strides in the future. With the new Supporters Club structure possibly feeding into the board you have an easy way to channel ideas and criticisms direct to where the key decisions should be made.

By all means grumble, there is still plenty to grumble about. But things don't change by themselves. To horribly misquote yet another US President perhaps it is time to ask not what your football club can do for you, but what you can do for your football club.

July 2001