A great draw – exciting times

It was asking a lot to get one of the ‘big 4’ (Leeds, Southampton, Norwich or Charlton) but a home tie against a decent League 2 side fits the bill. You can see the draw here.

Rotherham United at home – we’ve been waiting long enough to get a fixture like this. I was listening to the draw down the phone to Jeremy Albert who was at Ruislip and I could hear the cries every time a team numbered in the 70s was pulled out.

Now all the hard work and planning starts, but I’m leaving that in the capable hands of Fingers and Peter.  Fortunately for me I’m away in Belgium until Tuesday with my wife (no kids) though she hasn’t been best pleased with the phone going off all afternoon, including Radio London.  I passed that onto Gordon so hopefully some people heard him about 10 to 3 this afternoon.  I think we will get plenty more coverage yet.

So stand by for announcements on the date and time of the game  – plenty to take into account and it will involve the police, licensing authorities and the FA as well as Rotherham – and also ticketing and all other salient details.

It’s a good time to be a Wealdstone fan I think.

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Relief…and maybe a little celebration

I wasn’t sure what I was watching at just after 10 past 3.  I wasn’t the only one.

But before looking forward let’s first pay tribute to the boys for a marvelous comeback and an excellent 4-2 win.  But also we should say well done to Aylesbury, I hope they enjoyed their day as they have been a credit to their club and to the Spartan League.  Spare a thought for Greg – one moment, reacting to being wound up by Mark Boyce has cost him an appearance in the First Round of the FA Cup.  We know what Greg is like, even the song says what a nice man he is and he will be missed.

Anyway, onto the future.  23 years of pain – many of our younger followers will have read of the saga that was the 3 trips to Swansea for the replay.  For Gordon, it will be the monkey off his back.  For all he has achieved his FA Cup record has been lamentable so this can now be put to bed.

For all us now, all eyes will be the draw (live at 1.00pm on ITV).  For once we can look forward and have those discussions over who we would like, a glamour tie against the likes of Leeds, Southampton, Norwich or Charlton or Sutton United away?

For me any Football League side would be great.  I’m not greedy – though if it could be the ‘live’ televised fixture that would be good too. That said it is out of out hands and we will take whoever we get and do our best.  Can we start dreaming of what 2 more wins will mean?

It is a night to dream and why not.  Being involved with a Club like Wealdstone means we have had our share of hard times and disappointments but over the years we have also had plenty of great days.  We avoided a disappointment today and let’s hope another great day awaits in 2 weeks time.

News re Dennis Byatt

This evening Andrew Lane and I met with Dennis Byatt to conclude the process of his redundancy from the role of Commercial Manager.

This is without doubt the hardest thing I’ve had to do at the Football Club.  I certainly didn’t get into this role to make people redundant.  It has happened to me before and I can appreciate the likely impact on Dennis and his family.

However, when in this role you have to be prepared to take the right decisions for the Football Club.  The simple fact is we do not believe the targets we set for income will come close to being achieved this season, and given this we cannot justify the cost of employing someone to carry out these duties.

This is not about Dennis, he is a good guy, a popular guy and someone you would like to have around the place.  It is about the position and the fact that for many reasons, selling a non league football team is very hard work at present, particularly in this economy where many of the companies you might hope will support you financially are themselves laying off people and cutting costs.

We have always been clear with Dennis that the only way we could afford to employ someone was if we believed we were going to see considerably more incremental income coming in as a result of having someone in that position.  This means not just more income than his basic salary, but also more than the amount we could expect to raise ourselves.  So it was always a tough ask.

Perversely of course income remains our priority.  But we need to find a more cost efficient and a different way of organising ourselves.  This we are doing now and will announce soon.

Dennis will always be welcome at Wealdstone Football Club, and I hope that when the pain subsides he will not be a stranger.  He leaves us with his dignity in tact, with his popularity high and with our best wishes for the future and I genuinely thank him for all he has done for the Club over the last 18 months or so.

I hope people reading this post understand that sometimes tough and difficult decisions have to be taken for the good of the Club.  I will be happy to explain our plans further at the Supporters Club AGM on 9 November.

In the meantime let’s get the focus back on Saturday.

Frustration

This flu thing becomes very frustrating when you start having to miss the important things in life. It’s all very well to stay at home when you are ill but these days laptops & broadband mean you still keep on working.

But when it comes to Saturday and the big game try telling your missus that you are still not great as you pop the pills, keep her awake through your continual coughing & then say you are still going to football.

So it’s an afternoon of Jeff Stelling & staring at the phone waiting for text messages today. Deeply frustrating.

Please give generously to the collection we are doing on behalf of Steve Hughes today and pay your respects to Ken Wiggins whose family are also due at the game and hopefully cheer the boys onto another important victory.

Feel the buzz

You can almost touch the excitement in the air at the moment.  It makes a change.  The crowds are up, the bar is full of people, the message board gets busier and busier.

We are so close to some big days.  BUT and it is a but, let’s not count any chickens just yet.

First of all the FA Cup, yes we have a great chance of getting to the First Round, for the first time in over 20 years, but before that we have a tough fixture next week at Aylesbury.  They will fancy it too, they are on a great run and will be well up for the game – so it will be tough and probably our toughest test yet.

Noone wants to tempt fate, least of all me so all talk of the First Round needs to be guarded around me – except there is masses to plan should we get through and should we get a home draw.  Fortunately we have some people looking now at the regulations.

But before Aylesbury we have two more important fixtures.  For some time I have been looking at just the next two games.  The FA Trophy also offers some important prize money and a chance of glory later on in the season.  We will be keen to progress on Saturday and keep the run going but it will be a tough game.  Then we play at Hornchurch in the league.  This could be our only league game in about 6 weeks if we keep winning in FA competitions.  So we will go there with a desire to win, although I think we have lost 1-0 in evening games in both of the last two seasons so let’s hope we can turn that around.

Welcome Stuart, a local lad

The papers are currently full of the current machinations in Premier League boardrooms.  Liverpool are talking to Saudi investors, just days after other gentlemen from the Gulf ‘rescued’ Portsmouth.  And today the Independent suggests Saudi’s could be looking to take over a further 10 clubs in the English league in the coming months.

It is easier these days to count the clubs in the Premier League who have not attracted investment from some far flung place overseas (Just 9 remain in British ownership).

Now in saying that I am not saying that ownership of a club by someone from overseas is necessarily a bad thing.  The question has to be what are the motives for getting involved.

I’ve written before about my distaste for the way the Premier League is funded and how Clubs in some cases are becoming mere baubles of billionaires, this year’s ‘must have’ so I don’t want to go on about this anymore – but it is a link into what I wanted to write – somewhat tenuous perhaps.

On a relative basis money pays equally as important a role at our level. It was no accident that AFC Wimbledon, Chelmsford City and Dover dominated the past two seasons in the Ryman Premier and Dartford now appear to be treading a similar path.

I tend not to take much notice of what other clubs are supposedly paying, as interesting as it is.  Our focus needs to be on what we can afford, and how we believe we can best support Gordon to have the most competitive squad we can, playing in front of ever improving facilities with a structure across the Club that enables us to progress on and off the field.

There are many aspects to how we try and derive income.  Our commercial operation is a crucial part of this.  Dennis Byatt, with some support from Leo Morris, has been tasked with hitting some tough targets this season, targets made all the more difficult because of the economic situation which impacts on many potential sponsors as well as individuals.

Given the challenge we must constantly look for ways to improve our commercial structure.  That’s why I’m delighted to welcome Stuart Coutts onto the Board of Directors.  Stuart is just the type of person we need to bring to the Club, a successful businessman with real commercial nous, someone passionate about his football with (hopefully) the time and the contacts to make a difference.

As a close friend of Quentin Fox, Stuart has been around the Club for many years and already in the past 2-3 weeks he has made a positive impression on us.  His first major task is to take a good look at how we are operating commercially and make some quick recommendations about where we can improve.  I am hoping this is the start of a process to give us the best commercial operation that we can have for what we can afford.

This is very important area – perhaps the most important for us and we need to get it right.  I know Stuart will be happy to talk to anyone reading this who might have a view to how we can improve the way we make money.  If you want to be introduced please let me know.

And, returning to the opening remarks of this post we haven’t had to travel the world to find Stuart, he lives in Pinner.

A day of highs and lows

Writing this in a hotel room in Madrid where I spend too much of my time, we’ve had a day to remember today for very different reasons.

Firstly the good news.  Carl Martin’s transfer to Crewe Alexandra is great news for the player and for the Club.  For Carl, this is his dream, to be a professional footballer and he will be under the tutelage of one of the best coaches in game (well after Gordon) in Dario Gradi.

We’ve all known for many years how much ability Carl has and if he can steer clear of injury there is no doubt that he can make it as a pro.

For the Club we are delighted on several fronts.  Financially this is a good deal for us.  Our position was not quite as strong as in previous transfers as Carl is out of contract with us but Crewe have to pay a fee for compensation given Carl’s age and I believe they have been very fair with us.

Also this once again demonstrates how we develop youth.  Carl, like Jermaine and Marvin and Monty have been with us from when they were very young and with patience, support and good coaching they have all developed into players who can succeed in the football league.  This is a great message for the likes of Marvin McCoy, Kieran Forbes or Alan Massey – or other young players (like Jamie Osborne) who we might be looking at bringing in for the future.

However, the day ended on a low note when I heard about the sad passing of Ken Wiggins. Ken was a long standing die hard supporter known to many of us for several years.  He has been very ill in recent months and I know that Fingers and Peter Worby have kept him uptodate with what has been happening at the Club, as well as sending him the matchday programmes.  We will all miss him and we extend our condolences to Liz.

A great win…tinged

We should be delighted tonight. A great performance against a tough Canvey side, with 10 men for most of the game. Another successful display of grit, determination and the great spirit that many of our opponents are commending us about. We’re on a great run, 2nd in the table and long may it continue.

But, and it is a big but, the incident at the end of the game left a bitter taste for many of us.

I am not going to blame anyone, from Canvey or Wealdstone. The simple fact is it was almost impossible to say who was to blame for what happened. The actions of some of their players was unfortunate and those of one of their supporters unacceptable but there was clear provocation from some of our fans too. One individual in particular has been pointed out but we do not know his name. What is most depressing is that he was apparently screaming obscenities at one of their players as the game finished, even though there was a child standing with him.

The unsavoury fracas that followed, including apparently an 8 year old boy being pushed over and hurt in the melee, is simply unacceptable.

Let’s be clear about this. Anyone who thinks those sort of incidents have a place at our club are wrong. Whoever is to blame it takes two sides to make these things happen. And the big danger is that all we are trying to build up with local residents and the local community will fail.

When it had all finished there is no doubt it tarnished what otherwise would have been a celebration of a great win.

I do want to thank those in the crowd who tried to quiet things down – and I include several of our fans in that – but people need to be in no doubt we are serious about stopping this type of thing happening in the future. We will now be looking into getting a movable covered tunnel – this could be expensive and will take money away from where we want to spend it but what option do we have?

We have great plans and have already achieved much so lets not risk throwing it away. Now let’s get back to the football and the FA Cup next week.