It’s a Funny Old Game

The Beautiful Game… Never sure if that epithet is ever more than a press reporter’s dream? Following Wingate & Finchley in the Bostik Premier League has been an interesting experience this season. Back in November when I wrote about our awayday in Tiverton I think I mentioned that we were struggling in the league and that I had chatted with our Chairman about the possibility that we’d be in a relegation battle very soon if things didn’t improve. I, and I suspect this goes for most of the fans at Wingate & Finchley, am not given to the sort of manager / chairman witch hunts that Premier League fans feel they’re entitled to. Things didn’t improve. We had a good run in the FA Trophy but our league performance remained poor. We went through a period when it seemed that the goals against would always be 4! At one stage – after losing 4-0 against Kingstonian at home – I finally lost my rag after the players didn’t even come to the bar after the game to see the fans and called them out on Twitter. That’s a one-off – hadn’t happened before in 14 seasons of supporting the team and is unlikely to happen again. But it serves to illustrate how bad things had become. It says a lot that a couple of the older players did contact me to express their thoughts and I think it was good for us all.

Where do our problems lie? One issue is finance – our club runs on a very short set of bootlaces. On a level playing field this isn’t a problem but there are some club owners that throw money around in their efforts to seek success – last season it was Billericay Town and this time it’s Dorking Wanderers. Money can be a transient thing – the history of non-league divisions is littered with clubs that no longer exist after the rich owner got bored and took the money away. I’d rather accept losing and possibly getting relegated if it guarantees the club being there to support for many years to come.

Another issue is Managers and Chairmen. Our club looks to give young players and new managers a chance to grow in the game. Bringing youth through is what our Chairman stands for and I agree wholeheartedly with his approach. We had Keith Rowland as manager for the previous two seasons and he achieved both the club’s highest ever league finish and most points in a season while he held the reigns. Unfortunately he was unfit to resume this season so we had to seek a new manager at short notice. We signed a team in Nicky Shorey and Glenn Little. Potentially this should have been a good appointment but within 3 weeks Nicky had to leave (Why is personal and not for this forum). Glenn stayed on and did his best. But while we saw some amazing progress in the FA Trophy, our league form was very poor. Eventually, Mr Chairman took the decision to look for another manager and Glenn left. It’s probably the nearest we’ve ever come to a genuine manager sacking – and it was probably done a couple of months later than ideal. The Chairman’s wish to bring forward new managerial talent possibly clouding his judgement on this occasion?

New manager appointed… Well actually it’s old mate David Norman coming back in as Director of Football on a loan from his current team, Rhyl, with Steve Clark as Manager and Franco as assistant. We now have until the end of April to drag ourselves out of the relegation zone. Dave brings Organisation. Steve and Franco bring passion! Saturday saw us hammer fellow relegation strugglers Harlow Town 7-2. Could be the result that sets us on the road back to safety? Oh! and our skipper, Sean Cronin scored a hat trick – which is quite an achievement for a centre back – that’s why Ali is patting him on the head ;-)! Lets see how it goes 🙂

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