A statement of intent

I must comment on our recent signing of Richard Jolly.

Of course this is a fantastic and exciting signing for us, not only a player with a proven goalscoring record but also a rarity in someone so popular throughout the Club given his previous exploits with us.

A few people to pay credit to for this pretty amazing news, Gordon for his persistence, Jolls himself for “wanting to come home” and refuse considerably more money on offer elsewhere and of course Jez and so many supporters for helping to make this signing possible with their help.

Richard Jolly, a fit Scott Fitzgerald who underwent a successful operation at the end of last week, and 25 goal Peter Dean looks a pretty good front line especially if we can get Callum fit and able to deliver on his potential this season.

So is it a statement of intent? Every year we try to improve on the last and there’s no doubt a consistent goalscorer could make the difference for us. But remember most other clubs are strengthening too. We know of one local club who have had a big injection of cash to their budget and you don’t have to look too far to read about Carshalton’s spending or the plans at Bury and Lowestoft.

With 8 weeks until the season starts its far too early to make any predictions. But from our perspective the excitement is building.


Why I might consider emigrating

If there is one thing that makes me mad it is the way so many people think about top level sport in our country.

A couple of events over the past 48 put this in sharp focus to me. Firstly Andy Murray losing in the final of the Australian tennis. I noticed on Twitter from an early point in the match as things started to go wrong for Murray just how quick people started to criticize, abuse and dismiss him.

While I am not that bothered about tennis and think something serious must be wrong that in a mass participation sport that generates many millions of pounds every year at Wimbledon we only manage to have one decent world class player every generation, to my mind Murray is the best British tennis player I have seen. It is hardly Murray’s fault to play in an era that contains two of the greatest players ever in Federer and Nadal, and a world number 3 Djokovic who would be top of the rankings in most other times. To be ranked the fourth best tennis player in the world (I know he is currently ranked 5th) is pretty impressive in my eyes. But whether it is a lack of a major title (especially Wimbledon), failure to be the world number one or else his supposedly surly manner (as if everyone has to be a media darling from an early age) our press and many others seem determined to do Murray down at every opportunity. And if he once said he supported Scotland or anyone who were playing England then so what!

An Australian colleague of mine sent me some clippings from an Aussie paper that took great delight in showing how our papers had turned on Murray as a failure (I wouldn’t mind winning $10 million in prize money – quite a failure) and wondered how much pressure we will put on our athletes in the run up to 2012.

So that’s tennis but what about the national game and the madness of the last day of the transfer window.

Has football finally gone mad? many people wondered as Torres went for £50 million with 70% of that reinvested in Andy Carroll (one England cap and a few Premier League appearances/goals behind him), who is now the most expensive English player ever. That question was in fact asked by Rio Ferdinand, that self-proclaimed man of the people, via twitter. I wonder if things are any more mad than when Manchester United paid Leeds £30 million for him eight whole years ago. Perhaps with inflation built in Torres is a snip.

Interestingly as one person said, had Manchester City bought those two players for that amount people would have been very indignant but maybe Russians are easier to stomach than Arabs and nothing Dalglish can do can be wrong.

Frankly I don’t care and continue to pity those who buy into this Premier League make believe world. It must be the most successful alternate reality show ever invented. No doubt tomorrow’s headlines will be screaming about Rooney scoring two goals for the first time since who knows when. Who cares!!!

Not that it is comparable – because frankly it is a different sport – but seeing Windsor & Eton going bust seems to have hardly registered. Whatever their demise can be blamed upon and no doubt paying out more money to players than they could afford would have been at the root, it is sad news nonetheless which no one at our level of the game wishes to see.

Forgive me this rant, and I haven’t even started on Steve Evans and Crawley but sport in this country, which can be so exciting at times, certainly has the power to depress and disillusion.

The anatomy of a transfer

With Kieron Forbes making the move to Forest Green Rovers I thought in the best traditions of this blog that I would try and explain what is involved in such a move.

Like many of the young players we sign following their release by a football league club the ambition to have a future in the game remains and our challenge is to prove to the player that we can help develop them so they can get another chance in the pro game.

This was the situation for Kieron when he joined us from Watford as a 17 year old two and a half years ago. Since he has been with us Kieron impressed everybody with his talent, his application and his performances. Just as he seemed to be about to be a major player for us last season following the Rotherham game he got a nasty knee injury that ruined the rest of his season. For me this was an important factor in us not getting in the play-offs last year.

We exercised our option on Kieron’s contract to ensure he would stay with us for this season and back fit he has again performed well. improving steadily to be a major player for us. Certainly one we did not want to lose.

In November Kieron had the opportunity to train with Forest Green for a few days. After that we have been in lengthy discussions with Forest Green, with Kieron and his father and amongst ourselves to try and arrive at the best outcome for all parties.

From the Wealdstone perspective we wanted to keep Kieron for as long as possible. We were not prepared to let him go while we were still in the FA Trophy. Then we needed to make sure that if we were to agree a deal then we were suitably recompensed for releasing him from his contract so he could sign for the Blue Square Bet Premier Club.

We talked to Kieron and his father about our recent track record of moving players on, how we can create interest (citing the Jermaine experience) and how momentum can quickly get going. We even pointed out how we might even be in the same division as Forest Green next season (if results go well for us and badly for FGR for the rest of the season). But it is a risk to a player not enjoying life ‘working’ and playing part time football and seeing what might be possibly his only opportunity of progressing in front of him.

Trying to agree the value of a player is a very subjective matter and you have to take into account several factors. These include the values of past players, the club (and level) they are going to, the player’s contract situation and indeed the player’s own desire to leave. Typically there is then a negotiation and while we were prepared to try and to agree a deal we did have a bottom line and for a while we would not accept what Forest Green were offering us so no deal could take place until we reached a deal we could all agree. Once that was in place it was for Forest Green and the player to agree personal terms, and also go through a medical. Only then would we release him from his contract allowing him to sign for FGR in time for him to make his debut today coming on as a second half substitute in Forest Green’s win at Bath City.

I believe Kieron will have only good things to say about Wealdstone FC but ultimately with a Club two divisions above offering the opportunity back into full time he wanted to make the move.

Whatever we as fans and onlookers think about whether players could or should have “done better” or gone to a supposedly ‘better’ club it is easy to speculate but another thing to be faced with what is a life changing decision. None of us have the hindsight of knowing what might happen and the same is the case here.  Perhaps no one else would come in, perhaps he would get another season ending knee injury in the next game any number of things might happen.

Kieron’s situation is no different to the same quandary any of us are in when considering whether to take a new job opportunity. Although there was some passing interest from 1-2 other clubs, Forest Green were the only ones who came in with a tangible offer to give Kieron the chance to be a full time footballer again.

We also took into account that most likely, as a free agent at the end of the season, Kieron was likely to move on and we felt there was a real risk of seeing his performances nosedive if we insisted on keeping him against his (and his father’s) wishes for the rest of this season. It comes back to the fact again that Wealdstone are a Ryman Premier League part time club and I believe it is wrong to stop a young player fulfilling his dream of going back full time should the opportunity present itself.

So with a heavy heart, but an inevitability, Forest Green got their man. We received a small fee, a decent sell-on clause and a first team friendly and can now list another player that we have successfully moved back to full time football. For the likes of Jonathan North, James Hammond, Kurtney Brooks and others this is proof that coming to Wealdstone is a good move and they might be next.

For us we need to quickly plug the gap that losing this player will cause us, but as we have done in the past we will endeavour to do this again and we will follow Kieron’s career with interest as we do with Marvin McCoy, Carl Martin, Graeme Montgomery and of course Jermaine Beckford. Good luck Kieron and let’s all hope you achieve everything you want to in the game.