Spare a thought for Maidstone

Our own long struggles to find a home and to progress as a Club are not dissimilar to those other Stones from Kent, Maidstone United.

Under the astute leadership of Chairman Paul Bowden Brown, Maidstone were reborn and climbed their way back through junior and county football into the Ryman Premier League, all the time desperately searching for a permanent home in their town.

So as we continue to seize on any scrap about Jermaine and wonder what, if anything will happen at Leeds, Maidstone are watching their own young star, Chris Smalling, achieve his dream move from Fulham to Manchester United for a fee reported to be around £7m.

Imagine having a 20% sell-on clause for that deal!

I don’t know the details but I understand that because the player was considered a schoolboy he was not on a contract with Maidstone, so they could not get Fulham to agree a sell-on clause.

So we have one ex Ryman player moving with no sell-on and we have our ex Ryman player potentially moving, with a sell-on for nothing.

Who says life is fair?


A big disappointment tonight

I think it is fair to say we were all taken by surprise by tonight’s match being called off, and not only taken by surprise but very disappointed.

At the heart of the problem is drainage.  I have asked Fingers and Adam the groundsman to come back with any short term suggestions that may help stop this happening again.  If there is something we can do that costs £hundreds then we will do it – but if it costs £thousands then that is another story.

It really is simple, like everything the long term solution costs money. If we had invested more money into the pitch during the summer and reduced Gordon’s budget further then I don’t think that would have been a popular decision though we may have played tonight.

As always we make choices around where we spend our money. We did spend about £5,000 on the pitch during the summer but this money is as much for repair and wear and tear as anything else. To invest in a decent drainage system would be a much bigger job and is not worth doing until we have more certainty around our long term tenure.

Many will remember that before we came to Ruislip the pitch at The Vale was probably the worst in Middlesex. The work we have done to it has improved it out of recognition but we also know there is far more to do.

Ultimately tonight’s postponement doesn’t help and means Alan Couch needs to reorganise another match.  At least we are away for the next three games.

So that’s that then

News today that Jermaine will be staying at Leeds for the rest of the season ends all the “will he won’t he” speculation that has been going on over the last couple of weeks.

I think when I last wrote on the subject that I suggested the ‘inside information’ that we had, such that it was, was that a move was unlikely this transfer window.

Reading between the lines I suspect there has been considerable interest but I am guessing that Leeds and Newcastle have been someway away from agreeing a price and therefore the chance of a deal being done was mainly press speculation and never really likely.

I have always said that whatever was to happen was always completely out of our hands so we were never going to spend any money before it arrived.  Actually I was getting quite concerned by the number of people talking about our sell-on clause.  In one respect we have had an opportunity for some more great publicity on various radio stations and a number of national press articles but on the other hand I could just imagine what players (current and future) would make about us receiving such sums of money – it could have caused almost as many problems as it solved!

Anyway it appears that it will not be happening. Perhaps he will sign a new contract in the summer after scoring the goals that take Leeds back into the Championship, perhaps he move for a free.

Whatever happens, we will continue to be very proud of what Jermaine Beckford, a player who learnt the game at Wealdstone, has achieved as a professional footballer.

Grosvenor Vale in the snow 9 Jan 2010

Stability not instant gratification is what’s needed

Another Saturday with no football. More work for Alan Couch to try and rearrange these fixtures with the number of available midweek slots rapidly disappearing and snow continuing to cover the Grosvenor Vale pitch (I’ll try and upload a couple of pictures I took yesterday).

I went down to the ground at lunchtime yesterday and met with Gordon and Leo to talk about a number of things, ranging from our finances, to the long term stadium situation, to current work we are doing in the community  to Gordon’s testimonial activities.

As always when sitting down with Gordon and Leo I can take heart from the fact we have complete confidence that these guys know how to manage a football club properly. Stability and professionalism are two key words for both Gordon and I – there really is no other way of doing things.

In contrast I have just finished reading a book which is well worth a read to those who want to see what life can be like when you do things very differently.

‘39 days of Gazza’ tells the story of the time football icon Paul Gascoigne took over as manager of Kettering Town. The book is written by Steve Pitts, a journalist on the local paper and chronicles the events that took place during a period between the end of October and early December 2005. It really is nothing short of sensational and the complete opposite to the way you would expect a Club to operate in the Conference North Division at the time. Tales of massive promises, big investment, going full-time, the glamour of Paul Gascoigne (as well as the dark side) and taking the Club into the Football League are undone almost immediately by a series of factors, not least the inability to realise that Clubs succeed on strong foundations, not instant gratification.

Kettering have enjoyed success since that time through the tenure of Mark Cooper and the side that he built. But with him departing earlier this season to manage Peterborough it will be interesting to see whether Kettering can maintain their progress.

It is many years since we last played at Rockingham Road and it is a place that many Wealdstone fans will have great memories of having won the Gola League title there in 1985.  Our paths have taken different routes since those days. Kettering are now well placed just outside the play-offs in the Blue Square Premier, having enjoyed great FA Cup success this season, drawing with Leeds United only losing in extra time in the replay.

On the flip side recent reports suggest that Imraan Ladak, the man who brought Gazza in, has just stepped down as Chairman, following on from a total ban from the Football Association and the likelihood is that even if they achieve a play-off place they will be unable to take it because of issues with their stadium.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Clubs need to be able to stand on their own feet and to match their ambition to their situation. That said we also know that winning is everything in football but to avoid the turmoil that so many clubs appear to face on a regular basis, the only route to success is on the basis of strong foundations, stability and good management throughout the Club. And if you get these factors in place, I think the success is all the more sweet when it happens.

Here we go again

The “will he or won’t he” debate is once again in full swing. How much is he worth? what is our percentage? how will we spend the money? and so on and so on.

Of course it is all very exciting and once again who couldn’t fail to smile when Jermaine scored the goal that beat Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Will he go in this window? We don’t know. In fact our latest inside information, so to speak, is that it is still unlikely he will move during January.

Of course the fact that Leeds appear willing to lose him for nothing in the summer still beggars belief but it may be that Jermaine’s own people have their own plans which include staying until he can negotiate a lucrative deal somewhere in the summer. But now I am falling into the trap of speculating.

We don’t know what will happen, to be frank we don’t expect anything to happen but no doubt there will be plenty of media and other speculation that something might happen, especially after today’s match. And if it does well that could be good news for us.

And if it does, I can already see the pressure immediately from every corner, in terms of well meaning advice on what we should spend the money on.  What I can promise is that, should we get a windfall, we will take the right, pragmatic decisions on how we use this money and we will continue with the policy we have employed for a long time now – to safeguard the long term future of the Club, rather than throw money at the opportunity for short term success.

But to conclude and let’s be clear, currently we have little expectation of receiving any such windfall in January though events up the M1 involving Mr Beckford will be more high profile than ever.