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Defending the Defensible

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 21/10/2007

I FEEL that I must defend David Wilkinson's extraordinary article stating that I have some sort of vendetta against Grimsby manager Alan Buckley and that I should be supporting the club rather than attack our manager.

Home > Features > 2007 Features > Defending the Defensible

Let's go through his points one by one.

First of all the parallel universe blurb about by biased observations. My report was a first hand account on what I observed at Wycombe and my opinions on the game. That's the purpose of this site, to offer a sounding board for fans of all shades of opinion to air their views. This is the precise aim of the Rivals network, a group of sites written by fans of each club to give the fans' view of events as they unfold. Maybe you should look at some of the other sites David to give you an idea of what we should be doing more of if anything, rather than less of as you suggest?

David now moves on to his "facts"

"A tremendous turn-around in the quality of the squad over the last year."

Quality is a subjective thing. As the purpose of football is to score goals and win games let's first look at Graham Rodger's record at the start of last season and compare it with Buckley's this one.


Therefore quality in terms of accruing points and winning games (the purpose of the exercise I recall Buckley saying recently) is actually higher under Rodger, who by this time last year was regarded as a lame duck manager, than under his successor Buckley.

"Anyone who actually watches the games can see the difference - quality players - quality football"

Quality is again a subjective thing but a good indicator of quality is how many people come back to watch a game. Our views on what we want all differ but in general people go to football to be entertained and if they are not they eventually may stop going. Granted some may be more interested in watching pretty passing football between the defence and midfield before hoofing it up to a lone striker who never scores than others, but overall an indicator of the quality on offer can be gauged by average attendances.


So more people are going to Blundell Park under Alan Buckley, perhaps indicative of a higher quality product. Excluding the last game against Rochdale when Town had a special promotion the Mariners are in fact averaging 4017 this season, slightly less than in Rodger's spell.

Incidentally the much-maligned Russell Slade managed to draw in an average crowd of 5100 during his time at the club, clearly a more successful product that of his two immediate successors.

"This could well be the first time - since Alan Buckley was sacked - that the quality of the team has actually improved. Most grounded people understand that improved quality precedes improved performance."

Your purely subjective view of what quality is (i.e. Buckley-style passing football) is clearly a minority view as the above figures show. What you are saying is we haven't played like a Buckley team since Buckley was last here, hardly a surprise is it? Indeed just 4,511 fans turned up for Buckley's first home game last season against Accrington, hardly suggesting a huge groundswell of popular support for what he achieved in the past. Most fans who hanker for the Buckley era of the 1980's and 1990's are either no longer supporting the club or were going anyway to watch Slade's and Rodger's teams.

Whether you like it or not "most grounded people" (i.e. those who agree with you) are clearly in the minority amongst our "floating" supporters (as opposed to those who will go regardless), who are the people we should be really trying hard to attract in my opinion.

All in all but for what Buckley achieved a decade or more ago by now his position would be almost untenable. He is surviving on his reputation alone. Most fans under 30 must be bemused why he is still here.

"This should a web site that is committed to supporting the Club."
We are an independent web site whose purpose is to allow the fans who wish to express their views to do so. Also "the Club" does not necessarily mean whoever is manager or even chairman but is a more abstract thing. Judging by the reaction of the fans at Wycombe yesterday or those who are staying at home a significant number of fans do not believe that keeping Alan Buckley as manager is in the long term interests of the club.

This site is not Pravda. People such as yourself have been saying that good times are just around the corner for ages, but anyone can see that this club is in serious danger of dropping to the Conference unless serious action is taken. Therefore it would be a dereliction of duty for me as a fan to stand aside and meekly let it happen without having my say in the best means on offer to me.

People are not stupid. To say there has been a tremendous improvement in quality over last year when in fact we are doing worse is a statement fit only for Iraqi state TV or its like!

"This web site could do a great deal more for the Club it is meant to support."
We do a lot for the club, more than a great deal of the Rivals sites, but our purpose is not to be a pale shadow of the official web site, whose purpose is to promote the club, or to try and defend the indefensible.

It is impossible to watch this team play week in and week out without both admiring the progress made and without sharing the frustration of the manager, the team and the Club itself for the difficulty in placing the final pieces of the jigsaw.

This clearly is increasingly a minority view. Many fans' patience has clearly run out. As I said in my report yesterday: "Whatever formation and personnel Buckley has tried the result has been the same this season, suggesting there is a more fundamental problem with the methodology than with the players themselves."

My own view (and that's all it is) is that Buckley should be given a little bit longer to allow the new players he has got a chance to settle in, but he needs to be given some sort of ultimatum or target for the next few games. That's my view, which I am entitled to and can defend without resorting to accusations of insanity for someone who differs from it.

I can remember not more than a few months into AB's tenure that Rob gave in to his hysterical tendencies and called for his sacking - this was followed by a superb run which almost led to play-off speculation. And not even an apology!

Let's hope it happens again but the run last season increasingly looks like a dead cat bounce. I saw no need to apologise as that was my view at the time, and I was certainly not alone, just as at any one time we all have views. At the moment it's looking like I may have been right after all. Certainly my first instinct when I first heard of the reappointment of Buckley was that it would a disaster for the club, but like many (including our chairman) I was won over by the fact that Alan could still talk the talk. What is becoming clear is that Buckley's powers have waned and he may no longer be able to walk the walk - whether it is here, Rochdale or Lincoln.

Forget the pointless obsession with "beating the bookies"

Unfortunately (as it often causes more pain than pleasure) my chief obsession is with Grimsby Town Football Club, largely due to a certain Alan Buckley whose tenure in the late 80's reawakened an interest in something I was starting to drift away from. Incidentally I have beaten the bookies in the two seasons I have been doing it to date, although I am down this year at the moment but won again this week thanks to the England defeats. If Grimsby get relegated this year I will probably beat them once again due to betting mainly in the areas I know more about than they do.

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