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|The Long Decline|
The Long Decline - Part 4
By: Chris Smith
Date: 23/10/2009 (Last updated: 13/12/2009)
WHAT sort of club charges £14 for a Lincolnshire Senior Cup game when money is so tight and doesn’t then make the effort to produce a team sheet or 4 page programme for those wealthy enough or lucky enough to have any hard earned?
To add to that, it withdrew free entry to pre-season games for season ticket holders when that offer would have been a factor in considering renewal. Whilst I haven’t had problems with stewards, there is obviously a problem. The club need to resolve these issues as its PR appears wanting. It can’t afford to drive anyone else away.
The Tories won’t be looking after us so we’ve picked the wrong time to face a crisis as a football club and for the consequences of the lack of a long term strategic plan for GTFC and poor decision making to be felt.
I’m not blaming the current regime although we’ve had some poor managers and plenty of journeymen players. We need to forget about Great Coates. There won’t be any major retail development in the foreseeable future and without that, no move unless there is a bit more creative thinking and cooperation within the corridors of local power. My favoured relocation would have been around Freeman Street. If you are going to travel out to Great Coates for your shopping, you may as well stay on the motorway to Meadowhall. Whilst I quite like the Reebok stadium, the retail development around Horwich Parkway station is er, uninspiring although there is a McDonalds and a café in one or two of the supermarkets, it is hardly the ideal pre-match experience. Mind you, I’m thinking of going to their game against Everton next Sunday for £23 admission, or a fiver more than the Upper Findus.
I’ve often wondered how teams like Barnet, Morecambe and Accrington to name a few, are consistently outperforming us. Perhaps having a main benefactor is working against us. Perhaps the players at these clubs, many of whom have recent non-league experience, realise just how important it is to try their hardest. I looked at the Barnet programme, and their game at Macclesfield attracted less than 1,000 home fans as did our game at Moss Rose last season. But they managed to beat us. They may well be better motivated and certainly recognise their clubs’ limitations. As fans, we seem to have a higher opinion of our club’s potential than the last ten years bear out. We are certainly well capable of going down. I for one wouldn’t blame John Fenty if he withdrew his support as he gets enough abuse from those who think another sugar daddy will come along. I’m grateful we are trading at the moment.
What if JF pulled out or circumstances changed, as they do? Let’s get out of this state of denial that it couldn’t. Administration could lead to automatic relegation. Folding completely means reforming at least three steps further down the pyramid, as Halifax and Scarborough have found. I’ve seen the level of support for non-league football in this town. Owners of smart cars watching Grimsby Borough through the college railings because they are too tight to part with £2. I’ve not seen that anywhere else and I’ve been to plenty of non league games.
I read a good book about Doncaster Rovers’ first season in the Conference where the objective was to survive and it is a truly inspiring story. But just because they have come back so strongly and are now a bigger club than we have been for many years doesn’t mean the same would happen to us. We’ve had more than our fair share of good fortune with the two AB spells. Part of Doncaster’s renewal has been the attraction of development money and a determination to move on. Times were fantastically hard for many in its pit villages in the 1980s. Whilst South Yorkshire is still classed as a relatively economically depressed area, it has improved. I’m not sure the same can be said for Grimsby which to an outsider, looks more and more run down each year.
I’ve just heard that Mike Newell has walked the plank. I’m not sure what I think about that. I’ll wait until I hear the full story but the decision won’t answer the underlying problem-an underlying malaise around GTFC.
A story therefore of years of missed opportunities, the latest being Russell Slade’s poor decisions in 2005/6 when we HAD to get promoted and didn’t. We are now a club that is associated with basement division failure and any new player who says they are impressed with the ground and heard about what an impressive club we are is either very diplomatic or economical with the truth.
My reaction to the sacking so far has been "wha’effah", as lets face it, dismissals aren’t a rare event at this club. I thought MN was a good appointment so I don’t have any faith in my evaluations of the next incumbent. I hope it isn’t Macca or Woodsy; it really is a poisoned chalice. What I am tired with is the treatment of any incoming manager as a potential saviour with the usual Telegraph led initiatives before yet more disappointment. I’m now at the point where I have to have something to cheer. I think our vocal backing hasn’t made a jot of difference by and large. It won’t, if the players can’t motivate themselves.
I’m grateful for the memories and the fact we didn’t fold twenty years ago. It’s a pity we never learned the lessons. With AB, we had a Get out of Jail Free card and a second chance to push the club on. Let’s just hope we survive to fight our way back but it’ll take a long time. And we aren’t going to need a new ground anytime soon by the look of it, so can we tidy up the one we have please?
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