Is it ever ok for players to react?

Watching the Adebayor story with interest this week and it seems to be there is a fundamental question that bears asking.   Are players expected to be immune from the emotions of a normal person and if not can we be surprised when they react to intense provocation?

Reading the reports of the game at Eastlands last Saturday there is no doubt that the bad blood between Adebayor and his former employers was apparent throughout the afternoon and exploded when the former Gunner scored, and then ran the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of the area where the Arsenal fans were situated.

As I watched this on Match of the Day, my initial reaction was shock at Adebayor’s inflammatory antics but as the week has gone on I am not so sure.  Harry Redknapps comments are quite interesting.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of this case let’s consider this from our perspective.

Baiting the opposition full back or goalkeeper or whoever was one of the attractions of watching Wealdstone when I was younger, trying to get a reaction and hopefully a drop in performance.  Yet the ‘abuse’, such that it was, tended to be humorous, maybe sarcastic but not full of hatred and mindless vitriol which seems to be the case more often these days ( and at the Man City – Arsenal game).

I think in the post Lower Mead years we have seen plenty of examples where our crowd has turned nasty in terms of the language and abuse aimed at opposition players (even our own on some less than memorable occasions). Experience shows that this typically doesn’t do us any good either, simply making our opponents more determined to be able to have the last laugh.

And when an opponent, having been the target of abuse throughout a game scores, or celebrates at our expense perhaps making a gesture, why is it we feel so indignant that the player makes a public show of how he feels.

I understand the comments aimed at Adebayor were as offensive as they could be, aimed not only at him but his family as well. If any of us were subjected to such a constant torrent of invective wouldn’t we wish to say or do something in response?

We all know that football is a game of passion, of emotion which at times can boil over but there is a line that we all must hesitate before crossing.  I think Adebayor crossed it last Saturday but not with this reaction more with his ‘stamp’ on Robin van Persie for which he has rightly copped a 3 game ban.  But supporters can cross this line too – and we’ve all been guilty of it.

Just because we, as supporters pay our money, it doesn’t give us the right to do things which if we did them in the street we could be arrested for, and screaming abuse non stop at someone for 2 hours cannot be acceptable behaviour.

For me I’ve always said it, a supporters energy is much better spent getting behind his own team.  Of course, certain players and occasional flashpoints will get us all up in arms.  But if we do get on an opposing player’s back, don’t be surprised if they have the last laugh.

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Giving something back

Over the next few home matches we will be welcoming various members of the community to the Vale.
On Saturday we are hosting our friends from the Harrow Stones Stars and holding a Mencap awareness day and at our following home match against Canvey Island on 3 October we will be holding a cancer awareness day, with as I understand it members of various cancer charities present including from the Bobby Moore fund.  We will also take that opportunity to remember our former player Jomo Faal-Thomas.
I want to thank Dominic Whyley and Barry O’Sullivan who have been instrumental in getting these days organised.  I have said many times that it is very important for us to truly be a community club, and this means thinking of others less fortunate than us at times.
As well as thinking of others we also must consider our own, and in that spirit we will also be doing something for Steve Hughes when we have the next free Saturday home game (likely to be against Margate in the FA Trophy).
Steve was struck by a bad injury which ruled him out of much of last season.  Having worked hard to get back during pre-season he broke down again when sustaining a cruciate ligament tear, remarkably in his other knee in the pre-season game at Beaconsfield.  This was a bitter blow to Steve, who I know, felt as fit as he had ever been when he started playing again, and coming immediately after the previous injury this was a bitter blow.
Wisely Steve got a scan immediately, and once the bad news was confirmed he decided to get reconstructive surgery and this took place at the beginning of this month.  The operation was successful and the surgeon is confident that Steve’s knee will be strong following intense rehab within 6-8 months.  What this means, of course, is that Steve’s season was over before it started.
Many of you will have seen Steve regularly watching the team during the period of his last injury.  He is very popular at our club and I know he is committed to coming back and scoring lots of goals for us in the future, and his determination to once again battle back to full fitness speaks volumes for his character.
Financially though this is a tough break for Steve, who has a big bill to pay for his medical expenses and is, I believe, currently out of work.  Therefore we will be holding a collection on behalf of Steve, I know from the reaction of some of the Directors to this story that it will be well supported.
Most regular supporters will be used to Peter Worby shaking a bucket at them at the end of a home game, particularly if we win.  Most of you give generously.  over the next few home games you will again be asked to give generously but not for the football club, but for people who need our help.  I know we will all dig deep and do what we can to help.

Not a great draw…could have been worse

The FA Cup sprung into life at Arlesey last week with a tough game against a reasonable side.  I don’t think it was our best performance of the season by a long stretch yet the result was all important, as Gordon and others said, we dominated two games against Bedford last season but still went out of the Cup.

Monday’s eagerly awaited draw was disappointing and no doubt Boreham Wood will be looking forward to the game as much as we will.  We will also go into it without Charlie Mpi following the poor decision (was it influenced by the dubious antics of the Arlesey player?), to send off Charlie Mpi.  The look of horror on Charlie’s face in Steve Foster’s photo tells its own story. However, we will still go into the game knowing it is winnable – and let’s face it we have already won once at Meadow Park this season.

I think the prize money in the FA Cup has given the competition a different feel.  There is now always the undercurrent of how handy this money is or I’ve heard don’t the players realise whats at stake. In some respects this seems to have taken over from the thrill of a great cup run, the chance to draw the proverbial ‘big fish’ and the dream of television and widespread press coverage.  Perhaps that’s the age we live in. Undeniably the money is certainly handy, but it must be thought of as a bonus.  We do not budget for any meaningful cup success and I reckon you need to get to the 4th qualifying round at a minimum to make what I might describe as tangible additional income.
Don’t get me wrong I want the glory, the press attention and especially the financial rewards that a Cup run brings, but then so will Danny Hunter at Boreham Wood, and we both know that either club has the opportunity to progress and then with a decent 3rd qualifying round draw, who knows…

The state of affairs

I wanted to update you on exactly where we are currently with the 100:400 initiative and the implications for this season’s finances at the club.  This is pertinent now given the start we have made to the season and also now that we know that we will not be receiving any bonus funds from a Jermaine Beckford transfer.

Firstly I am delighted at the response we have had to the 100:400 scheme that we launched at the end of last season. It was a huge ask for all of us to achieve the minimum target figure of £40,000 by the start of this season and it is fantastic that we are so close – as I write we are just over £1,000 short. So we only need around 3-4 more people to come forward and sign up to hit this initial target.

The absolute necessity of achieving this funding is that without it we would simply not be able to put the current team out on the park.  All the progress we made on the playing side last season would have counted for nothing. Even so we are still not able to compete with the majority of other clubs at our level and Gordon Bartlett continues to have his hands tied and remains frustrated by a lack of available finances.

The reality is that 100:400 helps to give us a workable base.  But it certainly hasn’t improved the playing budget; in fact people need to understand that our budget is significantly less than last season.

So this 100:400 money is absolutely vital. We will of course be continuing our efforts to raise income from commercial and other activities and some progress has been made but we all know how difficult the general economic climate is.

I will be very clear that we did not budget this season or have any expectation for any transfer monies from Jermaine’s possible transfer – it would have been irresponsible to have done so, even though it has been subject to widespread speculation.  However we are all aware that such a move would have transformed our finances and provided a massive boost.  As we know this will now not happen now, if ever and we must put those thoughts to the back of our minds.

What this ‘non-event’ shows is that we can only count on the things that we can control, prudent financial management, balancing our books and raising our own funds to enable us to continue to fund our exciting young team and push on to generate success on the pitch that we all crave.

So we must redouble our 100:400 efforts and continue our self-sufficiency. I have said before that the board will not spend money that we don’t have as we are not prepared to risk the long term future of the Club, at such an important time for the possibility of short term success.

If you would like to sign up for 100:400 see Jez Albert or Nick DuGard on match days or email jeremy.albert@jetsetflights.co.uk or nickdugard@fsmail.net.  Remember you don’t have to contribute the full £400 it can be less or more but all donations help our efforts to keep a competitive team out on the park and pushing for success. If you have previously pledged a contribution please now see Jez or Nick to confirm it.