I’ve been reading with some interest the discussions around Block 2, the ‘Legend’s Lounge’ and the changes being made at the club. There’s a few people who believe we’re commercialising things too much, there’s others who are steadfast in the belief we must progress.
It’s been said to me on more than one occasion that we must not forget those who supported us through the dark years, those who were fighting for the club when it mattered and I agree wholeheartedly with that. My belief is that sponsors who have been around the club during the National League days deserve some form of loyalty now we’re on the bigger stage. After all, their money will have helped keep us afloat. As did Bob’s.
One thing I have scrunched my face up at recently though is the ‘special bond’ we talk about that arose last season. I believe we have it, we had a wonderful correlation between supporter and club and the likes of Helgy put in so much tenacious and vital work in raising funds. The ‘special bond’ though, is it really as great as people say?
Even Chris Moyses came under immense stick as manager, the ‘feel-good’ factor we speak about wasn’t around when he got abused at Wrexham was it? Or when his car was spat on?
I might get shot down for this, but I didn’t notice a special bond when we were losing 4-0 at home to North Ferriby, I noticed half-empty stadiums and a team very few of the fans identified with. I was there, Helgy was there, Alan Long was on the mike and the 617 were there, but many of us felt quite disaffected with proceedings. There was no special bond in 2012 either, when a group of supporters demanded David Holdsworth and the board ‘get out of our club’. I appreciate why that protest went ahead and I’m sure with hindsight many wouldn’t be directing such vitriol at Bob, but where was the special bond?
In truth, much of it emerged last season and whilst it is brilliant that it did and we’re enjoying unprecedented success, let us not rewrite history. Even Chris Moyses came under immense stick as manager, the ‘feel-good’ factor we speak about wasn’t around when he got abused at Wrexham was it? Or when his car was spat on?
I don’t want to break down the rapport that has built up, but much of last season’s goodwill was based on a successful team growing the fan base. I understand there’s loyal fans who pay their money every week, I’m one of them remember, but last season the club really forged a bond. It began to happen after Oldham in the cup when Alan Long and Bradley Wood served tea to queuing fans and when we all felt connected. It happened because Danny and Nicky turned us around and we all bloody loved it.
The fans training days are great, Danny and Nicky allow them to happen and the FPS scheme facilitates that, but would they have been a success twelve months earlier? What about under Steve Tilson? You would have had to search attendees for sharp objects and unidentified bottles of liquid back then.
Is it so special because we had one season where everyone pulled together? Is it beneficial if it has created any sense of entitlement amongst supporters right now? This ‘special bond’, is it unique because we take 4,000 to Notts County, because we take 27,000 to Wembley, or because we took 255 to Cheltenham on the final day of the 2015/16 season?
Money won’t come from special bonds with fans, nor from letting large numbers of families have premium seats at a heavily subsidised rate
It’s the arguments over season tickets and seats that gets me a little bit, it seems fans believe that they own the seat they are allocated and being moved is an affront. I’m not just referring to Junior Imps either, it’s anyone who plays hell up at their seat being moved. The handling of these situations might not be good, I get that, but being moved isn’t something we should all get angry about. If my seat was moved I’d be cool with that, as long as I knew in advance and was given adequate options. Where that hasn’t happened, the club must learn.
You see, I think the special bond is all built around the on pitch success and the managers and, for that to continue, things have to keep growing and changing. The legends bar is another opportunity for some fans to spend a bit more money and help us towards League One. It is my understanding football in the third tier will cost us around £600,000 more, taking in to account extra wages and costs. That money won’t come from special bonds with fans, nor from letting large numbers of families have premium seats at a heavily subsidised rate. That money will only come from making sensible business decisions, however harsh they may be.