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Hold on to Your Hats...

And We're off. The new season starts in days. What can we expect to happen to us this time? Can we hope to hold our heads up proud this season or will we spend most matches simply holding our heads in our hands? Where are City going?

One certain sign of how far our club has gone in just twelve months. Most of us have spent all summer agonising over a lack of a forward. As I write we sound like we're close even to solving that dilemma. In some ways it hardly matters, what matters is that we're worrying about one position. This time last year we thought most of our side would struggle to hold their own in the Sunday League and we needed players everywhere.

Building teams take time and our side looks to be taking shape. We can be confident the young players are developing and while we may have taken the odd step backwards we've also taken great strides forward. We shouldn't expect maulings at the hands of teams like Bedworth and Shepshed this season. The way out of this division is through the top two, not relegation into the Hellenic. We can expect to compete. Progress indeed.

What's more we can take huge comfort that we're even talking about the team on the pitch again. This time last year it was still a minor distraction from the crucial grind of keeping the club afloat. Not only are we still here but the club is beginning to look like a football club again. We have sponsors and the club is being repainted, bar staff will run it properly and we can make money from functions. New directors are being recruited and local businesses approached about putting money in. Directors are trying new things. Some events, like the summer concert, may not entirely succeed - but right now it's the ideas and the trying that matter most. Much of the praise for this has to go to Colin Gardner who has picked up the baton from the supporters and taken the club up a notch. But his enthusiasm has also led to money coming in from directors who we as fans had previously doubted. Things are getting better.

Perhaps the most tangible reward from all this progress is a better atmosphere at the club. The Supporters Club remains a vital, integral part of providing funds for the football club. Everyone knows this and the fans are valued. The directors are now felt to be working hard and everyone is happier. The youth team is directly linked to the club, we have a ladies side as part of our expanding football family and Gloucester United are now partners not cuckoos in the nest. This spirit has to be nurtured, from it will come a vibrant and successful community football club we can take pride in and that the players will strive to represent well on the pitch.

As part of all of this though we can expect to see some familiar faces come back through the turnstiles. The team will win games and hopefully entertain, Meadow Park is again a pleasant place to come and watch football. The temptation to turn and ask where they went in the hard times is only natural. We stood on cold terraces losing heavily, fought the good fight for the club and stuck our hands in our pockets to help pay the bills. We must resist the bitterness and welcome these fans back. To go onward from here we need people in numbers and we need them to pay at the turnstile, even the odd visiting fan from neighbouring clubs has to be seen as a potential convert rather than an enemy. We must build rather than choose to be willfully small in our thinking. This club needs to be inclusive to get what we all want - the debt finally cleared and a solvent football club going back up the pyramid. 

August 2002