We’ve been here before

Mark Lloyd said to me before the game that he guessed I had two posts ready, one for if we won or if we lost. Given this afternoon’s events the easiest thing would have been to find whatever I wrote after the Harrow Borough FA Trophy match last year as there were plenty of similarities. At least we won that replay.

First of all let me comment on our performance, then the referee – I’ll leave Chesham’s ‘card fest’ to someone else.

I felt in patches we played much better today – that is much better than we have in the last few games though still not as well as we can. After our equaliser you could see confidence flooding back and we played really well against the 10 men during the first half and should have scored more. For whatever reason we couldn’t keep that going in the second half. Chaps and Keiron were both not getting forward as much in the second half and we seemed to rush things at times when a more measured approach keeping the ball might have served us better though Chesham had set themselves out for the draw and were difficult to break down.

When Scotty scored I couldn’t see them coming back. I’ve no opinion on their disallowed goal for the other end of the ground and I’ve heard (from their officials) two contrasting explanations. Kurtney had a good game and it is a shame he lost possession in the manner he did allowing them to get the 97th minute equaliser. Inexperience perhaps, justice certainly not.

The Chesham officials were very unhappy with the ref. I guess I would be if he sent two of ours off, plus the manager. However, perhaps someone can explain to me how that game necessitated over 3-4 minutes injury time – let alone the 8 that was played. I remember one injury, to their number 4, I counted 5 substitutions and then what? Did he add back on the time that the Chesham goalkeeper wasted with the score at 1-1? No board was put up so noone knew how long he was playing. He’ll be back on Monday as well.

So we go to a replay. We are still in the Cup and there is no reason why we can’t win the replay. Chesham are a decent side with good players (and an excellent goalkeeper) but we are more than good enough to win if we play with the desire and confidence we showed in part today.

Incidentally, particularly in the first half I thought our fans were excellent today. Let’s see and hear that again on Monday.

Frustrating, deeply frustrating, but it was better, we didn’t lose and we can still progress. Keep believing.

Trying to be positive

…but it’s bloody difficult tonight.

Not quite the start to the season we had hoped for. Distinctly second best in too many games. Confidence seeping out almost visibly. No goals in 4 straight league games – I was excited by our forward line before the season started.

No lack of effort tonight but we were well beaten. Credit to Carshalton they were quicker, stronger and more creative than us. Their number 11 Henry had pace to burn and yet despite all this they won the game with two sensational strikes and one unlucky own goal.

It is tough to find positives at the moment. But this is football, we all think we know the answers, can see the problems and can wave a magic wand to change it. Year after year most clubs go through a dodgy spell – perhaps this will be our one of the season now. Experience tells us that the only way out of it is to roll your sleeves up, to work hard, try and keep believing and it will turn.

We do have some decent players. They are just not performing at present – but whether from Saturday, the following Saturday or whenever it will change. It must do soon because lets make no bones about it we are showing distinct relegation form at the moment and many more games like this and the season will revert to one big struggle.

This is the time when managers and coaches need to really earn their corn. They are responsible for signing the players, for setting the tactics, for picking the team and for motivating the players to perform. They also need the players, collectively as a unit to have the desire and belief to perform and the will to win. Clearly something in that little lot is missing at the moment.

I continue to believe in this management team and this group of players. I believe we are good enough to go to Chesham and get a result but not if we continue with he way things have been recently.

At risk of this being taken out of context the fans can also do more. A reasonable crowd tonight but several people commented to me that they couldn’t remember our fans being so quiet. Remember the run-in last season when the crowd carried the players through that crazy run of games. Our supporters can make a difference and we you to on Saturday please.

Let’s get it straight I am not blaming the supporters for where we are. I do appreciate that it is difficult as a fan to lift yourself when the team are struggling – yet this is when they most need you.

If this is a bit ramble then I’m sorry but it’s difficult to be too coherent after the run we are having but let’s hope it will end and end quickly, starting at Chesham on Saturday.

What is a proportionate penalty?

The less said about yesterday and our away form the better. It must change and change soon!

Once again I find myself posting about the financial woes of other clubs.

Since my last post about Croydon Athletic (D Day for them at the end of this week), things continue to go a little crazy.

Ilkeston Town from the Blue Square North have gone bust almost below the radar and had their record expunged in what seems like record time. The excellent Twohundredpercent blog describes what happened up in Derbyshire.

Welling United from the Blue Square South have just had 5 points taken away (together with a suspended £5,000 fine) having been found guilty of misconduct by the FA for, as Barrie Hobbins the Welling Secretary admits in his statement “ not only falling behind on HMRC liabilities but submitting inaccurate financial returns to the Football Conference”. You can read the full Welling statement here. And last week’s Non League Paper reported St Albans City, again from the Blue Square South, were being investigated by the FA regarding payments to players, though nothing has been proved or confirmed here as far as I am aware.

Remember we are still in September! At the end of last season many clubs were reprieved due to the problems of others (Margate who beat us yesterday being one of those reprieved) and for so many of those clubs with financial problems it comes from one thing – spending too much chasing success.

In Welling’s case they are considering whether the 5 point deduction is a proportionate and reasonable sanction. How many points should be deducted for cheating – because that is what they are guilty of.

We (and many other clubs) don’t withhold money from the HMRC, or submit inaccurate financial returns to the authorities. We work hard to get our finances on an even keel and spend what we can afford to avoid going into debt. So is a 5 points deduction fair? Perhaps they should be forcibly relegated 2 divisions as well rather than still being in contention for a promotion place into the Blue Square Premier.

For me Welling, Croydon Athletic, Ilkeston and those who have gone before them – and those who have still to be found out – deserve no sympathy for their plight, indeed one can only hope that a 5 point deduction is at the low end of the punishment scale in future.

Tough assignment in the Cup

Similar to last year was my first reaction on hearing the Cup draw. Last year we were drawn away to Boreham Wood for the 2nd qualifying round and this year we have a similar tie away to Chesham. It won’t be easy and it could have been better but it also could have been a lot worse.

On Saturday we enjoyed as smooth a passage as we could have hoped for. I felt for the Tring Athletic officials, who were good people, a little after the game. Given their good start to the season they turned up hoping to give us a close game, but the gap of two levels was ruthlessly exposed and the game gave Dan Burnell the opportunity to properly open his account. Let’s see him do that in the League now – and also in the next round of the Cup, which will be a big game for him.

I enjoyed the racenite which took place after the game on Saturday and realised that Nick Dugard has missed his vocation, as he clearly could have been one of our foremost MCs had he realised where his real talents lay.

The racenite was organised to support the TaskForce Ten fundraising. As I’ve said before it is great to see funds being raised by supporters who want to get more money into the budget. It is tough and with the numbers staying on after the game let’s hope that plenty of cash was raised.

One other small note about fund raising – though for an altogether better cause – is that on 2 October for the Lowestoft game, we will be raising awareness and hopefully some funds to support cerebral palsy charities. James Smith is organising the events and we are happy to support it.

A messy farce

Let’s get this straight from the off. As Chairman of Wealdstone I don’t like writing on my blog about other clubs. No doubt some readers may already be saying “so don’t” but given the amazing national press coverage that the Croydon Athletic situation has brought the league I think this is a pretty public matter – and it does impact on us.

I chatted to Alan Turvey yesterday about this and I am confident that the League will have done all they can to help Croydon Athletic, but this is a situation where apparently there is not much anyone can do, other than appear from nowhere with the cash available to run a senior non league side. Would anyone really be interested in a crisis club like Croydon if they were looking to invest at our level. By the way if anyone reading this is looking to invest in a non league club then please contact me first!!!

This is not the first controversy to engulf Croydon Athletic either. They say this situation is entirely separate from anything that occurred with previous Chairman Dean Fisher. Fisher is the previous chairman / owner who is now in jail for fraud. I believe the Fisher situation meant that the FA have already been taking a keen interest in Croydon Athletic and I don’t believe there is any evidence of impropriety.

Unfortunately for the Club, after one crook came a guy who is now earning his 15 minutes of fame for all the wrong reasons as the News of the World and every other paper have made him into an anti hero for our time. Actually I believe Mr Majeed is not even registered legally as the owner of Croydon – which perhaps shows how difficult it would be to enforce some sort of ‘fit and proper persons’  test at our level.

The emotional farewells that have been broadcast from the management and team are all very well but I struggle with the protestations of the now ex-manager that significant (or above average) sums of money have not been invested in the team he had created – and this insistence actually takes away much of the sympathy I might otherwise have. We have all been around too long to know that you don’t come from the bottom of Ryman Div 1 to be a fancied team in the Ryman Premier within a year without serious investment. Players do not just do it for the love of the game, especially those signing from Conference and Pro clubs. A good set up will have helped but money talks as loudly in our league as it does in every other one.

What will happen to Croydon Athletic now? Today the League have announced that their next two league games will be postponed to give the Club time to see if it can survive. This will be hard and I don’t think many people will be surprised if they do not return.

So how does this affect us? On two levels I think. Many people felt that Croydon Athletic would be challenging at the top end of the table this season so you could argue that might be one less team likely to be up there. But maybe more important is what this says to people who are considering trying our level of football, or thinking about giving up watching a pro club because they think that has all become too money oriented.

I can only comment with confidence about our Club and hope that people see the number of people involved, the backbone we have and the fact that we would not be where we  are without much hard work built on plenty of honesty – by which I mean paying out what we can afford, keeping our promises and generally keeping everyone in the picture in terms of where we are going. It’s the only way.

No one likes to see any club disappear and sure, like anyone else, I feel sorry for any genuine Croydon Athletic supporters – but as I always say in these circumstances – I hope they were asking all the right questions about how long the club could sustain their progress and not just enjoying the ride.

This is obviously not good for Croydon Athletic, but it is not good for the Ryman League or Non League football in general. We can only hope this is a one off and there are no other clubs financed in the same way – but the truth is you couldn’t say that for sure.

Travelling over, now what’s going on

Back yesterday morning from basically three weeks away – a combination of work and holiday. Fortunately back in time for what I thought was an absorbing game – especially given the lack of chances, let alone the lack of goals.

A few people commented to me after the game that our manager didn’t look best pleased – and he wasn’t. That is good to see. Gordon knows that this is the season where we need to kick on and while finances will continue to determine the speed with which we can progress, this group of players is talented enough to do well. Points rather than performances will determine how this season ends up and a team looking to challenge would have hoped to eke out a narrow success. Though by the same token I think we have seen many similar games in recent seasons where we would have conceded late on. So a tough point and still no goals conceded in three home games which is good.

One thing I couldn’t agree about were the comments I heard around me from people saying Danny Burnell shouldn’t have taken the penalty. His penalty record is very good, he is a striker and I know he wants a goal but people are building this so called ‘drought’ up too much. We’ve only played 5 games and he has started in what – the last two? I was pleased to see the confidence to grab the ball and am confident he will come good. We need him to.

The crowd was good, breaking 500. Though supportive, I was a little sceptical about Non League Day, but I’m happy to say that as well as plenty of publicity the day seems to have been a success. Let’s remember, attracting more people is why we’ve moved our midweek games to Monday nights, trying to avoid the Champions League. We will look at other schemes through the season as well to try and attract new people to Wealdstone – and hope they come again.

There is a lot to do. I have a long list of people I want to get together with to discuss the future, how we can best move forward and harness people’s talents as well as progress on all the other things we have to do off the field. Unfortunately this will take me some time to achieve – but we will give it a good go. We will also shortly announce an ‘Ask the Chairman’ session, and maybe combine this with ‘Ask the Manager’ as well. So watch this space.

I had some good conversations with Alan Turvey yesterday, as he was at the game. Not surprisingly, one of our first conversations was to do with Croydon Athletic and I will pick that up in my next post.