Terrace Thoughts 36, 21/06/2019

I started last week’s Terrace Thoughts with some quotes from Jock Stein and, following these, my attention was drawn to the following from Sir Bobby Robson:

What is a club in any case?
Not the buildings or the directors or the people who are paid to represent it.
It’s not the television contracts, get-out clauses, marketing departments or executive boxes.
It’s the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, the pride in your city.
It’s a small boy clambering up stadium steps for the very first time, gripping his father’s hand, gawping at that hallowed stretch of turf beneath him and, without being able to do a thing about it, falling in love.

So true. An amazing quotation. But I do find myself wondering if it is now more reflective of the past than the present. My very first trip as a kid was to Roker Park, to see Manchester United and George Best in particular. And I can still remember my first trips to places such as The Vic, Ayresome Park, Ewood Park and Hillsborough. And I recall the smells, the cursing and the cheers. Not the prawn sandwiches. Not the messages scrawled on the shirts the players wear under their strips. And no kids held up pieces of cardboard with words such as ‘Bob Newton. Love you. Can I have your shirt?’ scrawled on them.

And then I remember grounds with character like The Goldstone Ground, Feethams and Doncaster’s Belle Vue ground. All gone in the pursuit of greatness.

And then grounds which still exist but have lost much of their charm – Highbury, White Hart Lane, Bloomfield Road, Deepdale and Leeds Road (Huddersfield). All grounds where I’ve ‘enjoyed’ seeing Pools………………

Anyway, before I get too nostalgic, the answers to last week’s quiz questions:

26. Who did Liam Donnelly join after leaving Pools in June 2018?

Motherwell FC

27. Peter Hartley left Pools for Stevenage in 2013 – after spells with Plymouth Argyle, Bristol Rovers and Blackpool, who did he play for last season?

Motherwell FC

28. Who did Trevor Carson join after leaving Pools in June 2017?

Motherwell FC

29. Which club did Rob McKinnon join on loan in 1990?

Manchester United – although he didn’t play a competitive game for them: their loss.

30. Which club did Rob McKinnon sign for in January 1992?

Motherwell FC

Bit of a theme going on here. Should the next question be: Are we a feeder club for Motherwell?

Anyway, what drew my attention to Motherwell FC is the fact that Darlington host them in a pre-season friendly on 6 July.  And this got me onto a short TV film called ‘Motherwell FC: We Own the Future’.

The film looks at a club doing things differently and fighting against the current climate of wealthy investors and making the bold jump of placing the fans and the local community as owners of their own club, through the supporter body ‘The Well Society’ who have a majority shareholding.

It aims to ask the question of what a modern football club is there for, who it belongs to and what purpose it can serve in a time of social and economic turbulence in towns and cities across the UK.

Thought provoking stuff, on many levels – and there are obvious parallels between Hartlepool and Motherwell, in addition to our ‘feeder club’ status – give it a look here.

And before we leave Scotland, another quote from Jock Stein, “Football is for the fans. It can be the greatest game in the world but if there are no people to watch it, it becomes nothing. The fans are the lifeblood of the game”.

Too right Jock! Shame about the impact of Sky TV and the myriad of foreign owners…..

So, this week’s questions:

31. During the 2016/ 2017 season we played one team three times and the score-line was the same in each game: which one of John’s favourite teams were the culprits?

32. What was the name of The Vic during the 2016/ 2017 season?

33. On 5 April 2010 Pools beat Brighton & Hove Albion 2-0 at home with goals from Roy O’Donovan and Andy Monkhouse; why didn’t we get three points?

34. Who went on loan from Motherwell to Notts County, scored against Pools, and then joined Pools after a spell with Inverness Caledonian Thistle?

35. 10 December 2016 saw us suffer our heaviest home defeat since a 0-5 loss to Coventry City on 17 November 2012 in League One. Who did the damage this time? And Toto isn’t the right answer!

And to my final (not so) quick points:

a. John’s football website of the week:-  http://www.cambridgefansunited.org. There’s a lot that trusts such as our own can learn from Cambridge Fans United.

Cambridge Fans United (CFU) was set up by a group of United fans in 2000, inspired by the work of Supporters Direct.  Supporters Direct was a recommendation of the Government’s 1999 Football Task Force “Investing in the Community”, aimed at encouraging football fans to have more of a say in the running of their clubs and involvement in their local communities.  CFU operates independently of Cambridge United FC.

In 2004 Cambridge United ran into financial difficulties and faced administration.  CFU rose to its first major challenge and launched the “Bridge the Gap” appeal.  In just four weeks the appeal raised £100,000.  Sadly the financial respite was short-lived and the Club then looked to sell its greatest asset, the Abbey Stadium, to a private concern (Bideawhile) that, evidently, did not have the best interests of the Club in mind.  CFU recognised the worrying long-term implications of such a move, and rapidly developed an alternative option.  CFU raised commitments approaching £1.5 million in just three weeks but the Club, disappointingly, went through with the sale of the Abbey to Bideawhile.

£100,000! £1,500,000! Sums that many trusts can only dream of!

In 2005 Cambridge United did go into administration.  During this period CFU put money into the Club to help keep it going.  The Club subsequently faced a winding-up order, which threatened its very existence.  Working closely with the other supporters’ trusts and with Supporters Direct, CFU was instrumental in successfully securing the future of Cambridge United FC by directly lobbying the Sports Minister, Richard Caborn.

In the years that followed, as the Club sought to recover, Cambridge United FC leaned heavily on CFU to help it operate.  Some CFU committee members took on key roles within the Club, including Finance Director, Commercial Director and Commercial Manager.  At this point in time CFU, effectively, ran Cambridge United FC.  The role of Cambridge United Fans Elected Director (FED) was created, the FED elected by CFU members.  CFU also took on numerous other tasks around the Club, such as staffing the ticket office and the Club Shop, running the Club’s lottery and managing teams of programme and 50/50 draw sellers.  CFU managed the “South Stand Scheme” (the distribution of free tickets for low key matches to encourage new supporters) and re-established the “Junior Us”.

CFU introduced the concept of the “Community Club” to Cambridge United and has since worked closely with the local community (both in its own right and on behalf of Cambridge United FC).

Since 2005, the health of the Football Club has improved greatly, both on and off the pitch.  This was largely down to all constituent parts of the club working together with a common goal of success. Another key objective was to expand the work in the community and to gain the respect of the wider community. Dave Doggett, as a member of CFU as well as Chairman of the Football Club, facilitated the changes and valued the key contribution of CFU in turning around its fortunes. The Club has now entered a new era, under a majority shareholder in Paul Barry and the role of CFU has evolved accordingly.  Today CFU is no longer needed to offer financial support to the Club or to staff many of the key Club operations that it used to.  The Club now has its own Community Trust – the Cambridge United Community Trust – to work with the community.

This has allowed CFU to take much more of a back-seat role, focused on representing fans on the big issues of the day and helping out the Club in the background.

So, a success story for the likes of HUST to learn from – but it also shows clubs and owners what can be achieved by working together.

b. Financial Crisis of the week: Bury FC faced a High Court judge earlier this week…..and secured yet another adjournment! The Shakers have more lives than Mrs A’s cat.

c. Notts County watch: The Magpies have the shortest odds on finishing top with virtually every firm, with Bet 365 citing them at 7/1 – a typical price across the market. That is despite them facing a High Court hearing on July 10 over a £250,000 unpaid tax bill! Notts could be put into administration our even liquidated by the court if a takeover of the club is not completed by that date. And one of their potential purchasers goes under the name of ‘Alex May’, but was previously known as Alick Kapikanya, a convicted fraudster who was jailed for preying on the elderly in 2014…………………you can’t make this stuff up, can you?

d. Gateshead comment of the week: will Pools sign Tom White and will compensation be paid? I don’t know…………..but I did chuckle at the Harvey Elliott story at Fulham……….what goes around, comes around?

e. The fans suffer again – Bolton Wanderers, who will start next season in League One with a 12-point deduction, are in the process of being acquired by a new consortium of investors and have released a list of the 14 players that remain contracted to the club, including goalkeeper Ben Alnwick and Northern Ireland striker Josh Magennis – five of the fourteen have yet to make a first team appearance. Good luck to fans of The Trotters!

f. So which groups of fans will suffer next? John’s ones to watch still include Notts County and Bury and we can add Macclesfield, Oldham and Blackpool (again!).

The views of Mark Palios of Tranmere Rovers are quite interesting – Read them here………………………

So, again, with no disrespect to, or implied criticism of, Mr Singh, we need a strong and financially robust trust – have you paid your subs and made a donation to HUST? Please do. You know it makes sense.

Time for a pint or three. You know, I wouldn’t mind having a few pints with Mr Singh – actually I’d buy – as I’d be fascinated to hear his views on the mayhem which is besetting the ‘world of football’.

Pip Pip

John

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