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The Long Decline
The Long Decline

The Long Decline

By: Chris Smith
Date: 23/10/2009

I WAS going to write a vague report about the game with Rochdale but couldn’t find anything particularly inspiring to motivate me so my critics will be happy with that. Needless, to say, I couldn’t personally find any positives to take home with me.

Apart from a goal-line clearance by a Rochdale player in the second half and the odd period of raised tempo, I think the Town performance was insipid, lacking in quality and belief and a travesty of the admission fee.

I felt sorry for JLAA and Bradley Wood, who did stand out in a poor team. The defeat wasn’t as heavy as I expected so grateful for small mercies there. The first Rochdale goal was hideous, where a Dale player was given time and space to turn three times before slotting home. This came after our non-existent midfield had been split and there was an air of inevitability that we would pay for it. The second goal was yet another howler and frankly embarrassing. It was also obvious we were going to concede. Only our players never seem to realise what is going to happen next. The final indignity was Rochdale stringing together what seemed like twenty passes together before releasing the ball to a thankfully offside team mate.

A few years ago, whilst I had an hour or so to spare, I put something together called "Hard Times" which never saw the light of day as the website it was intended for wasn’t up and running. It mentioned Rochdale however, and how I thought they had bypassed us. Not just on the playing side, but in the club’s general development.

My first trip to Spotland was on New Year’s Day 2005 where the game was abandoned at half time after a monsoon. I was struck by how tidy the ground looked, not at all what I expected. Their capacity was more than ample and despite a healthy Town following, there was plenty of room downstairs to circulate. The toilets were spacious and clean and had something called soap and hot water. (I carry hand wash with me as the facilities at our end of the Upper Findus are so poor. It would be nice not to be constantly tripping over guano as well). I know some fans complained about the time it took to sort out vouchers so that we could get to the replayed fixture for half price (it must have been all of 10 minutes) but I thought it was first class and would have given Town a lesson in PR.

I came to the home game against Chesterfield in the League Cup at the start of the 2002/3 season which was a rarity for me then, having only just returned to the game after a self imposed exile where other things had quite rightly taken precedence. That is an important point. The football club is not the most important thing in my life any more, much as I support them.

The article continues in Part Two

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