Changes at the Observer

Although not exactly ‘hot off the press’ news, I wanted to mention the ‘sad news’ this summer of learning about John Comfort’s retirement.  I spoke to him a couple of weeks ago, and first he advised me of Lindsay Coulson’s departure as editor of the Harry O and then the news that he was leaving one week later.

JC has been such a familiar face for so long it will be weird not having him around.  He has done a great job over the time I have been involved with the Club, always available to discuss how to cover a particular issue and always respectful of when we asked for a story to be handled in a particular way.  The relationship that we built up meant that on at least two occasions we were able to persuade the Observer to run a series of articles over a number of weeks, most recently with the Support Our Stones campaign.

John has moved to St Neots in Cambridgeshire, and took early retirement.  He promises to make a match or two at Ruislip early on in the season and we look forward to wishing him a happy retirement.

Graham Smith’s letter in this weeks Observer said it all really.

Fortunately we know John’s successor Tim Edwards.  Nick Dugard has done some great work in building a relationship with him while he has been at the Watford Observer.  We look forward to sitting down with him and new editor David Tilley in the coming days.

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Off we go again

Last night was the first night of pre-season training.

A good turnout though a few players away and no doubt a bit of ‘tooing and froing’ to happen in terms of player comings and goings.

The players looked good, fitness levels were impressive especially the likes of Chris O’Leary and Ben Alexander who have clearly been working hard through the May and June, and despite Attic’s attempts to smoke everyone out everyone seemed to enjoy being back.

Less than 4 weeks to the Watford game and only 7 weeks until next season.

Progress on the commercial front

I met with Dennis and Tracey last night. Good news. It seems that the programme advertising that we need is already sold (though there is always room for more). The first eight advertising boards are sold, and PJ is already working on making the first ones.

This is on top of the main club sponsorship deal agreed with West One. We have also agreed an excellent deal with Fitness First to help us with a leaflet distribution ahead of the Watford game and they are also going to provide us with gym facilities through the season

This is just the start though and the targets that Dennis needs to hit are very demanding – so as always – any leads / any suggestions please tell him. His number is here.

Enjoying the Euros

Allow me to go off subject for a moment.

I was lucky enough to get a ticket for a game in Austria last week, so went across to Innsbruck via Salzburg to see Russia beat Sweden 2-0.  It could have been 5, the Russians were very impressive.  Seeing them outplay the Dutch last night was no great surprise.

What impressed me was the atmosphere, the occasion.  Russians and Swedes sitting together, having photos together, making noise together. I’ve been to most recent Euro and World Cup tournaments and even though I was only in Austria for less than 48 hours I thought this was one of the best.

Have they missed England?  Probably not.  This has been a great tournament, some great matches, and as I have described some marvellous occasions.

Now how can I get to South Africa?

Would it have happened to us?

Sitting with the Boreham Wood guys yesterday evening chatting about their reprieve from relegation.

And they weren’t alone, Bedford in the Southern League, Weston Super Mare (for the 2nd year in a row) and Dorchester in the Blue Square South, Hucknall and Vauxhall Motors in the Blue Square North and Altrincham for the third year in a row in the Blue Square Premier were all saved from relegation – and that list doesn’t include the likes of Slough or Ilford at the level below us.

You have to wonder, the year we finish 4th bottom, what will the chances of us being reprieved?

Don’t forget though that for every reprieve there are clubs going the other way.  Perhaps most notable is the demise of Nuneaton Borough and the problems of Halifax Town and Boston United.   Remember we all recognise their problems.

AGMs and Banquets and Balls

It is that point of the year when you have a last look at the year gone by and start to look forward at what is up ahead.

Last Wednesday night we got a great crowd in at our own AGM.  I think everyone who saw how Ruislip is looking was impressed, and I think a bit surprised.  There is still plenty to do of course and good to see so many people there this weekend.  Our inspection is on Wednesday night and after that we will know exactly what else is required.

Otherwise the AGM was an opportunity for us to provide a good update of all the stuff going on.  I always say that I am fortunate to see everything going on at the Club and I hope all those who were there last Wednesday got a good sense of what is happening.

Last night together with my wife Katie and Peter and Pauline Worby we attended the Ryman League banquet and ball.  It was the first time I had attended such a night (although Peter has become something of a regular).  We shared a table with the Boreham Wood party, including Danny Hunter and Ian Allinson, recently reappointed as their new manager.  A good night, you just can’t believe how many people you don’t know amongst the hundreds there.

One point worth noting is that we were celebrating 10 years of Ryman sponsorship, with a further 3 years agreed. There are few sponsors who have remained so loyal and we should be thankful that the relationship between the Isthmian League and Ryman remains so strong.

Tomorrow night I am going to see what I understand is an impressive set up at Dartford, where we go for the Ryman League AGM.  Last year was quite a stormy evening with Dartford themselves moved into the Ryman Div One North – something that clearly worked out for them.  Not sure there will be so much fun tomorrow.

Don’t forget Wednesday night’s AGM

It is the Club AGM on Wednesday night and we have much to discuss.

As well as the normal AGM business (it is Barry Benveniste’s first AGM as Treasurer so I hope there will be plenty of good questions for him) we will look to update on Ruislip, on our Commercial progress and not forgetting the football side of things, where Gordon will do a Q&A and can update on some of the many goings on over the summer.  interestingly he told me today that Jackie, his wife, had said to him that she is seeing him less in the close season than during the actual season. My wife might agree with that statement!

Anyway we need your input and hope you will turn up – 7.30 start at Ruislip and if you get bored I think the triple decade disco will be going on in the main hall as well.

An interesting evening

Tonight Quentin Fox and I were the guests at a prize giving event at the Stanmore Jaffery’s Sports Club. Heard of them – no probably not but actually they are very important people for us as I’ll explain.

Just over a week ago, together with Peter Worby and Paul Rumens, Q and I met with three committee members from KSIMC – our landlords at Ruislip including their President Kamruddin, Secretary Mohsin and Treasurer Salim.  This was our first meeting with the freeholders of the Grosvenor Vale site since we moved in.  It was a very convivial meeting, and we were delighted by the amount both groups had in common, especially how we both see the importance of being at the heart of our respective communities.  At that meeting we put a number of proposals to KSIMC pertaining to the future of Ruislip and we will look to meet with them again next month to carry on those discussions.

Following the initial meeting, we were invited to attend the presentation night of Stanmore Jaffery’s, the sports club which is part of the wider KSIMC organisation.  It was an excellently organised event for approximately 200 guests and I was asked to speak for 5 minutes about Wealdstone.

We hope that our relationship with KSIMC continues as it has started with them taking an interest in the well-being of WFC and we will see how we can help them too.

The return of an old hero

Another big appointment – one of the most important of the summer so far.

We’ve appointed Dennis Byatt as our new Commercial Manager.  To read the whole press release see the club web site.

Some people might be surprised by this appointment – but I want to make a number of things very clear

– Dennis has impressed us in the meetings and conversations we have had with his plans, his desire and his passion for the role

– He is an experienced salesman

– He is throwing himself into the role with the aim (and the need) to raise considerable sums of money for the Club.

His presence adds to the work that Tracey Jones has also recently started doing for us.  Make no mistake focusing on bringing in commercial income is our number one priority.  Putting it simply we cannot do it on our own, our recent record in this area is poor, and now we have something to sell in terms of having a home I’m delighted that we have the support and resources to make this work – and I hope there is more to come in terms of people whose job will be to bring in income for the club.  More about that in due course.

Dennis will hopefully be at the Club AGM next Wednesday (11 June) and I am optimistic that we will have some exciting news to announce on the commercial side already.

Of course if you have any leads at all please send them through as we now have the resources to follow them up properly and forge mutually beneficial commercial relationships.