What do some people expect?

A weekend largely off football gaining some brownie points with my family this weekend.  After all not many free Saturday’s ahead.
I was going to post something about press coverage and PR tonight after seeing today’s NLP.  But after reading a thread on the WFC Forum I thought I might alter my comments somewhat.

I’m always interested in following what’s being said on the Wealdstone Forum.  I think it is a big improvement on the old mailing list; much easier to follow and interesting to see what is being said.  As Chairman I’m not going to post on there, though I know Wobs does from time to time, but with a combination of this blog, the club call line, the website and regular press releases I think there is enough coming out of the club to keep people appraised of what is going on.

So it was with some surprise and amusement I read the post about a supposed opportunity to ring in to Talksport earlier today.  One of the things we have worked hard on over the past couple of months is our communications and given the reaction (including unsolicited emails) from a large number of fans I think we are doing a pretty good job.

i think the list looks pretty respectable.  Press releases, the new look website, the blog (is there another like this in football -let alone non league, the ‘meet the manager’ evening we are planning, the increased coverage in the Watford Observer, the planned meeting with the editor of the Harrow Observer to bolster coverage etc etc.  Today I saw two Wealdstone stories in today’s Non League paper (and these are not the first two this summer).  One was a small paragraph (on P2!) about signing Chris Owens and the other was the result of an interview I gave to their journalist last week about PEPF which features on the front page of their Business Monthly insert under the headline “Stones roll to £11m stadium”.

Communications is something we take seriously which is why we appointed Nick Dugard to manage our press earlier this summer – and Nick is doing a grand job.  It is also important because if we get it right, we should increase interest and participation and generally create a more positive atmosphere around the club.

It is one of the interesting things of a forum that people can post anonymously as a ‘guest’.  So when one guest suggests a discussion on the subject of “why is Stones PR so shit?” I can only wonder what more we might do.

This is a comment I’ve heard for some years actually and I often wonder what more people expect.  Compared with most clubs at our level I bet we’ve achieved far more consistent coverage, in a range of papers and media.  Of course it helps to have something to say and in our situation when we haven’t had much to say about Prince Edward and the football has been pretty tough there is not much you want to say.

All this in a media world obsessed with the Premiership and not only that  but specifically the ‘big 4’ clubs so it makes doubly difficult to get decent coverage – even when you do have something to say.

Anyway I think the point of this is not to defend what we are doing.  I am happy that our communications are working pretty well.  If someone anonymously wants to suggest it is shit that is up to them.  All we can do is continue to communicate regularly putting in place the things we believe are right.

Of course if someone wants to have a proper discussion about what more we should be doing (and I’m not even asking for help here) then I’d be very happy to talk to them.  Mr Guest – please feel free to contact me or Nick and let us know where you think we are going wrong.

Meet the manager

We are going to hold a pre season evening with Gordon on Thursday 9 August at Broadfields.  Matt will get full details on the website shortly.

It should be a good night, we are inviting anyone who wants to come down to watch a public training session from 7.30 and then join Gordon at 8.30 to discuss prospects for the coming season.  After that there is an opportunity to chat with the rest of the coaching staff and the players in the bar.

Hope you can all join us.

ello ello ello

Today’s issue:

Planning already well underway for the  AFC Wimbledon game on 21 August.

Fingers has been liaising with the police to determine what level of police cover we need.  The issue is this: there will be a sizeable crowd, there was some trouble at the last game between us at Chestnut Avenue and there are some threatening comments around on message boards and the like so we need to be prepared.

If the worse was to happen and there was trouble inside the ground and we had not put in place all likely precautions then we could be in big trouble.  Of course (and hopefully) we will take these precautions and the game will be a friendly, good natured and competitive encounter on and off the pitch – that will be great.

One thing we cannot rely on is our own stewards.  I am grateful for everyone who puts on a yellow jacket and does a stewarding job during matches.  However, the fun and games against Boreham Wood 3-4 years ago in the Cup shows what can happen when it all goes wrong and we should not be putting our own untrained people into that situation.

So what is the downside of all this?  Simply the cost.  To police the game in the way we have been advised won’t give us much change from £2,000.  Whether this is value or not it is a lot to spend on one game and certainly not money we have budgeted for.  However we do need to take precautions.

There may be other solutions, we are investigating.  Anyone got any good ideas?

If I was a betting man…

I notice we are quoted at 25-1 to win the Ryman League by BET365. Is that worth 50p?

I doubt it to be honest.

AFC Wimbledon are favourites at 4-1 with Chelmsford 6-1 and Billericay 7-1 with the rest at 12-1 and upwards. I suspect AFC Hornchurch at 14-1 seem like decent each way value to me.

The bookies suggest that the following clubs will finish below us 33-1 Folkestone Invicta, Harlow, Harrow Borough, Hendon and East Thurrock Utd with 40-1 Ashford Town (Mx). No disrespect to these clubs but lets hope BET 365 know what they are talking about.

Good news on PEPF

We have released a news release with some good news on Prince Edward which should be up on the website shortly.

It is another step in the right direction but plenty of work still to be done.

Who reads this?

One thing about doing a blog is you don’t really know who reads it.

So far I’ve had a grand total of 3 comments both from the same person on one player related issue early on, and a few verbal comments at the Watford and Hitchin games.

Yet I do have access to some stats that tell me that on the best day there were 223 views (7 June) – 89 so far today. These stats also tell me a bit about where people come from to get to the blog – largely from either the official Wealdstone website or Terry’s. But there are other interesting places. Following the post I wrote last week about my article with the Japanese School I have noticed a link into a very interesting site. If anyone can shed any light on this website then that would be great. How exciting would it be to see a Wealdstone supporters club develop in Japan! Pre-season tour anyone?

The other exciting find was that this blog is currently listed at number 90 in the Word Press ‘Growing Blogs‘ listings. Fame at last!  Mind you number 1 is called ‘Musings of an anonymous geek’ so maybe that says it all.

The thing is you should feel free to play your part in this too. The blog is set up to be an opportunity for me to provide information about what is going on at the club – but it is also your opportunity to get involved. I suspect having seen Grim’s posting on the WFC Forum that there may be some more traffic on here and I will write something about what we are doing commercially at present in the near future. But it is nice to know you are out there!

Pre-season means what it says

Easy to go overboard on the first two friendly results, 0-4 and 0-3.  But I don’t think they tell any real story.

Credit to Watford last week for putting out a full team in the first half.  Perhaps it should not be a surprise we were losing 3-0 so quickly.  I thought we battled well from that point.

On Saturday, in awful conditions for much of the time, we didn’t play too badly.  This was really the first time that many of these players have come together against opposition of a similar standard and with better finishing the scoreline would have been different.

Of course it would help if we had our strikers playing, but with Deano ill, Peter Dean (also Deano?) away and Ben at a wedding we were short up front.  We have been after a ‘big man’ all summer and aren’t stopping now but the money on offer elsewhere has tended to blow us out of the water.

Expect to see a few other players given a run out tomorrow at Edgware.  This is pre-season.  Results don’t matter – there are no prizes on offer before the season starts.  But we are interested to see how different individuals perform in different situations so the games are valuable.  Incidentally we are planning an open training session / meet the manager evening before the season starts so watch this space or the club website.

Turning Japanese

it is funny what you get up to in this job.

I had a meeting yesterday evening with representatives from the Maeda Gakuen Group.  They are a group of Japanese organisations including a Japanese kindergarten, an independent prep school, an english langauge school and a sports club.

Their particular interest is in bringing over young Japanese players to be coached and learn from English clubs and they are keen to bring over two young players to train with us.  We are happy to help if we can and the meeting was to look at how it might work in practice.

I assumed the meeting would simply be with the contact I had, but it also included the Chairman of Maeda Gakuen, an English guy working with them and another guy taking pictures, including shots of the chairman (Mr Maeda) and myself shaking hands by the entrance to their building – which is fine but we haven’t done anything together yet.

As with everything we are keen to develop relationships with whoever we can.  I believe that that there is potential in any relationship to develop for mutual benefit so you need to invest in it.  Who knows where this will lead but if you see an influx of Japanese stars coming to play for us in a couple of years time you will know where it all started.

Reflections on Wednesday night

24 hours on…

From my perspective the night was an outstanding success.  A good crowd (expect a figure confirmed today), great weather, a strong Watford team and relationships developed with our near neighbours and this cannot do any harm in the future.

Actually I didn’t see much of the game.  This seemed just as well 15 minutes in, the one thing we didn’t want was a massacre.  Whatever the score, whatever the performance let’s remember we were playing pretty much the full Watford team in our first proper run out and I am prepared to wager they won’t be far away from an immediate return to the Premiership come next May.

I was also very impressed with the Watford officials.  Their chairman Graham Simpson was just back from holiday that afternoon but came to the game and stayed until quite late with time for everyone.  Chris Bailey, their finance director, was a really nice chap and also attended even though he is joining Fulham FC in a fortnight.  Aidy Boothroyd was also exemplary – a nice guy and a credit to Watford Football Club.

Incidentally I noticed all the Watford players/officials calling Mr Simpson “chairman” and even saw some fans asking for his autograph.  Maybe I should demand a bit more formality!

Some of the post event coverage has been pretty good.  So far I’ve seen the Watford Observer (better coverage in the actual paper) and the Watford FC website as well as Attic’s usual photo coverage.  There will be plenty more.

While I think about it I should also thank Keith Ronald and everyone at Harefield.  They did their club proud.  The pitch looked great and their help with stewarding, catering and the bar was hugely appreciated.  We have agreed to play an extra friendly against them (date to be confirmed shortly) and we are also playing them in the FA Youth Cup.  A number of our people couldn’t believe how different Harefield looked from the last time we were there.

Most importantly we made some money, we showed we could cope with a big crowd (no queues, no overcrowding) and we developed our relationship with Watford.  So thanks to everyone that helped – it was all worth it.

H

Jermaine – will he or won’t he?

I guess I am one of many following the Jermaine Beckford/Leeds United story unfold with interest at present.

Will he or won’t he stay? According to this week’s Yorkshire Evening Post either remains possible. It appears that Leeds want Scunthorpe to up their bid and Nigel Adkins the Scunthorpe manager is considering his position. Meanwhile Jermaine impressed against York in Leeds’ last friendly and is with the Leeds squad in Germany at present.

So do we want him to move or not? On the one hand we need the money from any sell on now (as we will in the future) yet on the other hand a good season this year with Leeds should see his value increase. Then again one bad injury sustained now and nothing will happen. What do you think?

One thing is for sure we have absolutely no say in what happens and can only watch on from a distance – so we need to focus on how we can make money ourselves without relying on others. Tonight is a start – it is great the sun is out!

Incidentally Attic has some great photos of Jermaine on his Atticsnaps site.