Not looking to antagonise anyone but time to ponder a few likes and dislikes from my time as a football supporter.
Of course, ignoring in the main the obvious “Stockport County”;
- Behaviour and attitude of Northern Ireland fans in welcoming Turkish team and its’ supporters immediately post the 1999 earthquake in Izmit, Turkey.
- Found friendliest away grounds, in terms of courtesy of staff to be Rochdale AFC and Huddersfield Town AFC.
- Nicest player met, David Ginola (ex-Tottenham etc) or Brad Friedel (ex-Galatasaray).
- Success of our first Conference in Turkey this Year.
- “County’s” Argentina kit 1979-1980.
- Going to Stockport fixtures with my Grandad, Bill and Grandma, Marion (R.I.P).
- Away games.
- The hymn “Scarf my father wore”.
- Rapport with Alex Kotler, CEO of Football Partnerships.
- The Events related to my Book “B&B: Friendship and Football beyond frontiers”.
- Admission price paid for me and 4 years old son, Kaya, to visit Elland Road and watch a League One match.
- Aggression by Millwall fan – the only time received a ‘blow’ at any game.
- Losing so often at Wembley.
- When “Vernon Bear” was replaced by “Harry the Hatter” as mascot.
- Fearing loss of life when uncontrolled surge of fans after Kocaelispor versus Erzurumspor match.
- Waiting for England winning the World Cup again.
- Chorus of “Delilah” from Stoke City AFC supporters.
- Sticking out like a sore thumb as the only Englishman in a hardcore area of Fenerbache terracing.
- Challenge by a fellow ‘County’ fan for my assisting saving Oldham Athletic AFC (2004). That’s my job and what I do for a living!
- Fan who sang for 90 minutes at Chesterfield (away) “I’ve got a song that’ll get on your nerves” (repeated over and over and over again).
I said only Stockport County in this blog….”S’PORT”; not to be confused with Southport. Yet the two S’ports will now meet in the Blue Square Premier (BSP) League next Season.
The other S’port has had its ‘punishment’ of relegation rescinded and will actually feature in the BSP. Despite finishing fourth from the foot of this Division, the expulsion of Rushden and Diamonds has saved them from descending to the Blue Square North. Rushden and Diamonds were thrown out at the League’s AGM because of its continuing uncertainty and financial instability. In effect, it could not guarantee to be able to fulfill its fixtures for 2011-2012. A court hearing followed after a major creditor issued a winding-up order over unpaid debts. Déjà vu?
It has been a tough year at Rushden after they had earlier faced a five-point deduction for submitting incorrect financial information. The Club’s Chairman has said: “We weren’t allowed to attend the AGM as we were suspended from membership so we were not allowed to voice our opinion”.
The Ground has since been repossessed and without external investment the future looks bleak its’ supporters’ trust, ‘Save RDFC’, has announced.
An ultimatum and directive have resulted from a perceived mis-use of social media by the then Chief Executive of Supporters’ Direct (SD). It is the overseeing organisation formed by the Government (with cross-party agreement) to provide support to ‘supporters’ trusts (fans) to secure a greater level of accountability and democracy within football clubs and more recently in other sports.
The alleged remarks, reported in The Guardian, made his position untenable and has resulted in his, only this week, using the hashtag on the same platform, Twitter, #gizzajob.
£1.2M funding has been pulled (SD’s enabling fund for the next three years). This decision courtesy of the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF), a grant-giving body the Premier League wholly finances. The FSIF board stated the withdrawal of funds was in response to insulting comments, including swearing, by the Chief Executive after AFC Wimbledon won promotion to the Football League. Naturally some of our clients are pro-greater supporters’ involvement as was much of our recent Turkish conference. I have only worked on projects in consultation with former SD employees Brian Lomax (earlier Managing Director) and Simon Binns who conducted themselves professionally (others less so) – and a former Director, Sean Hamil now at Birkbeck College, who was credible as a guest speaker at our aforementioned conference also.
So National media today publishes an interest in investment by GHA (Glenn Hoddle Academy) to Stockport County. No surprises where this might have come from with the Tottenham connection. A strategic alliance ‘yes’ but takeover ‘not sure’. With ‘Wardy’ and ‘Lordy’ currently in post, the indigenous team are more than capable of continuing their already impressive record of talent spotting and developing youth. I could even assist with my Turkish connections.
My fear is the amount of times that unfounded or unscrupulous characters crawl out to express a desire in owning a football club. I have witnessed it many times with some household names expressing a potential bid but our ‘due diligence’ actually confirming that they haven’t got a “pot to piss in”.
The latest publicity will appeal to the fans, but I offer a word of caution on premature excitement. If some of the characters supposedly involved are true, then I’m already nervous. And claims of Council-relationships that mean an iconic new stadium cause me concern – as that’s not what I’ve heard.
Whilst, it’s rare for me to agree with much that “County” do these days, I do think that “show me the money” and an honest and robust appraisal is fundamental.