Behind the scenes at the Non League Show

I got a text from Caroline Barker on Sunday asking me if I wanted to go up to the studio for Monday’s Non League Show. I’ve done this twice before and it is always quite fun so as I was free and it seemed a quiet news day Non League-wise I thought it could be a good opportunity to get some good Wealdstone messages in, so I said yes.

The first disappointment was finding out that regular studio guest, Dave Anderson, newly appointed manager at Harrow was not going to be in (babysitting as his wife was at Take That apparently) as I was looking forward to some good natured banter. Dave is a good solid non league guy. I think he is excellent on the show as he is the one to ask the difficult questions and his regular jousts with Conference spokesman Colin Peake can be good listening. The job at Harrow will be tough mind.

Then as Monday unfurled the story of Rushden & Diamonds withdrawing its appeal to the Conference broke meaning the apparent demise of this Club was likely to dominate the show – possibly meaning less time to talk Wealdstone. So I drove up to Regent St a bit unsure of how things might pan out.

You get to the Radio London part of Broadcasting House by 8.30. The other guests were Willie Wordsworth, a frequent visitor to Grosvenor Vale, and Dave Watters, a non league journalist. Sitting outside the studio Caroline runs through what’s being covered, who is due to be on the phone and any time left is a chance to catch up on any non league gossip.

Into the studio at 9.00 as the news is being read. Even though the mood is relaxed joviality as soon as the theme tune plays its time to snap into professional mode, Caroline runs an excellent ship. There is a good atmosphere throughout the team, and with the benefit of knowing the guys in the studio I found it easy to fall into the prevailing relaxed and upbeat mood.

Straight away I was given some airtime to talk about our pre-season preparations and hopes for the months ahead. Trouble is, Richard Jolly signing apart things have been quite quiet for us so for me the opportunity to paint a positive picture of how we run the Club amidst all the mess of the Rushden story was what I wanted to do. Fortunately I got a few opportunities to do that.

The Rushden story dominated the first half hour. Colin Peake was on the phone and as I’m afraid he usually does he had to comment on yet another difficult story for the Conference. Glorious amateurs is the best way I can describe it. They mean well, the Conference, but seem to lurch from one disaster to another, many I’m sure not of their own making. Fair play to Colin at least he comes on the radio to try to explain things.

Even though he wasn’t there in person Dave Anderson was on the phone throughout the show. I managed to suggest that the babysitting was actually his first Harrow fans forum – with a similar number of people turning up. We can look forward to seeing him later in the season.

All the time texts and tweets are coming in so Caroline in particular has to think on her feet to make sure nothing important is missed. The funniest moment was when Willie Wordsworth gave Fingers a mention and we spent a minute discussing Fingers’ role at the Club. Fame at last.

But before you know it the hour soon flashes by. Brief respites come when the mad groundhopper from the north comes on to talk about some pre-season tournament. What made me laugh were the texts from Wealdstone fans during that bit asking who was this buff?

Of the three times I’ve done this show, I enjoyed this one the most. I felt I had the opportunity to get a few decent messages out about our club, to go on about one of my ‘hobby horses’ badly run football clubs and have a little fun at Dave Anderson’s expense. I’ll look forward to the next time.

And if you want to listen to the show you can find the podcast here


Pre-season pace quickens

Two teams playing tonight and big decisions for GB to make about the squad soon. These decisions are tough but at least it is better than desperately searching for players at this stage. But as written before, the budget is set and through the supporters TaskForceTen we have been able to raise the budget for the season slightly. It all helps.

Off the field there are still lots of jobs to do, at the ground, with the press, with the League – simply picking up the matchballs for the season means Fingers needs to go down to Sutton.

Nick Dugard returns from his holiday this week despite demonstrating how expertly he manages the press even when he is away judging by the spread in the Non League paper yesterday.

Incidentally I have heard that Tim Edwards might be leaving the Harrow Observer soon. Tim has certainly made an impression in his time since taking over from John Comfort and it will be interesting to see how the Observer will staff the role in the future. We will also be losing Gordon Baxter, who has given us some great coverage on Hayes FM, really welcoming us into the local area.  Building up these relationships takes time and effort so now we will have to do it all over again.

Talking of the press, I had a good conversation with Simon Fyles from HA1 last week and we are hoping to continue developing some stronger ties with them during the season, especially looking at how we can use their students to give them experience in certain areas where we can benefit from – especially filming!

On Saturday we play Slough Town in the annual Brian Collins memorial game. Because of holidays we are stretched off the field, particularly in terms of running any sort of a catering service. If anyone wants to help – even for 45 minutes – with teas and coffees they would be most welcome.

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.

Harry O should be interesting tomorrow

I will be interested to read the Harrow Observer tomorrow.

We’re expecting two very interesting stories, one particularly positive involving a very famous son of Wealdstone and one less so involving the someone connected with our friends in South Harrow.

I won’t say more now until we see what Tim prints

Thanks to Wealdstone Tweeters

Couldn’t be at the rearranged game tonight so had the Twitter feed on – all I want to say is well done lads, a tremendous commentary throughout the night.  What a great service and you can find it at #wealdstone_fc.

What the other Wealdstone people tweeting, the Non League 24 vidiprinter, the Non League Show on Radio London, the new Non League 24 glossy magazine (which has an article about us in their recent first edition) and of course Non League, the world of football beneath League 2 has never had it so good.

And that doesn’t include the various club websites, the fans forums and message boards and so on…and occasionally the odd blog too.

No excuse for not knowing what’s going on!

The press begin to take an interest

There is nothing like the FA Cup to wake the national press up to a football club.  Aylesbury certainly enjoyed their moment of fame before the last round and now we are getting a hint of what can happen when you enjoy Cup success.

Fortunately, and with Nick Dugard’s lead, we are generally able to deal with press enquiries as they come in, whether through Nick, Gordon or myself. We try and be proactive wherever possible and I think Nick’s excellent efforts mean we often get more than our fair share of press, though it is fair to say that most weeks are not like this – and who knows what will happen if we progress further in the Cup.  A nice problem to have.

Today’s Non League Paper has a nice feature on our shy and retiring vice captain Lee Chappell and earlier today I was interviewed by Non League 24 for a feature they will be doing on the Club in their forthcoming new magazine – we will be in either issue 1 or issue 2 a month later.  Tomorrow night I am doing the Non League show on Radio London (from 9-10) and then on Tuesday we believe the Times may be coming down to Ruislip – presumably now for the Trophy replay.  Perhaps we might even expect a decent preview in the local press too.

Next weekend we already know of two camera crews including one from ITV and that Radio London and Radio Sheffield will be providing commentary.  Then there are the requests from photographers and others to be at the game.

With a week still to go I would imagine there will be plenty more calls and enquiries.  Watch this space.


Match of the season?

Thanks to Willie Wordsworth for voting our Boxing Day win against Harrow Borough as his match of the season on the Non League Show’s awards.  Given all the finals, play-offs and other big games across the leagues it was a pleasant surprise to get this recognition and you can listen to it here (approx 20:30 minutes in).

We are hoping that at least Willie and Dave Anderson from the Non League Show might be at the Vinnie Jones golf day.

Were two papers one too many?

News this week that Non League Today has closed down, leaving us with the original Non League newspaper.

I guess the question is whether or not we should surprised?  It always struck me as a challenge for two papers to survive – even with a strong economy I’ve never seen that non league football market is big enough to support two papers and so to win Non League Today needed to be distinctly better than the NLP – but it is hard to say it was really that different, and probably not that much better.

That said Wealdstone didn’t do badly with coverage with Russell Grant’s article on us (mainly written by Nick Dugard) just a couple of weeks ago.

I met / spoke to David Watters the editor a couple of times and wish him all the best for the future but it will be interesting to see how he comes back, and whether he will be back on the Non League Show next Monday.

Should I read or ignore

Someone told me when I took the Chairman’s role that I should ignore the fans forum.

I quite enjoy reading it.  I don’t contribute (that’s why I have the blog) but there are some good ideas and some less than good ideas! I do struggle though with the anonymity aspect, it is very easy to criticise when no one knows who you are.

I said when I took the role on that I wanted the club to communicate well as a matter of principle.  Recently I haven’t been able to comment so much on the blog, partly because of non football pressures and partly because having written this blog for 18 months, over 200 posts and 43,000 views it can be difficult to keep coming back and posting.  Do you want it to continue?  Usually I get good feedback from many supporters so please let me know if you want me to keep this going and I will try.

I am keen that we do a ‘meet the manager/chairman’ evening during October.  Those not happy with GB can then have the opportunity to ask him (and me) the difficult questions about where we are and what our plans are.  Look out for the date.

We continue to look to strengthen the squad where we can – but there is no point bringing players in who will not improve what we have.  We have enquired about so many strikers recently and the continue to draw a blank.  We asked about a player coming out of the Blue Square Premier who ended up signing for an Essex club in the division below us but were told he had been offered over 4 times what our best paid player is on.  Crazy – if it is true.

Hopefully some good news in the coming days but no promises – watch this space or the club website.

Wealdstone on the radio

I was interviewed by Gordon Baxter, a DJ on Hayes FM this afternoon.

Hayes FM broadcast on 91.8FM.  They are a community FM radio station covering a surprisingly vast area from Harrow to Greenford to Northolt to Perivale to Uxbridge to Heathrow to Staines.

On Saturdays they feature local football clubs taking reports from games involving Hillingdon Borough, Hayes & Yeading, AFC Hayes and Uxbridge and they have are starting to take reports from our games, home and away.

Tony Waller and Nick Dugard have been involved so far (anyone else who would like to get involved please let me know) and the plan is that the radio will call someone at the game for an up to date report.  so if you can’t make a game and live in an area that gets coverage tune in.

And tomorrow afternoon you may hear the interview Gordon did with me around the club coming to Ruislip, the importance of youth and community, the Open Day we have on Sunday and some thoughts on the season so far.

It is great that we’ve been accepted by so many in the Ruislip/Hillingdon community so quickly – but plenty more to do.