Sunday, January 29, 2006

Tony Pulis

Well I’ve shot through our history as a club and here we are at the present. Time to consider Tony Pulis, his past, his appointment and immediate prospects.

To be fair I have to start with the first occasion Tony Pulis cropped up on my radar and that was when Argyle were mounting a promotion challenge under Neil Warnock. Gillingham were atop of the league for most of the season and were ultimately promoted as Champions, I think. That wasn’t what brought him to my attention, though. It was the signing of Dominic Naylor and their subsequent miserly goals against total. Oh that and a dreadful disciplinary record including a fracas on the pitch leading to an FA charge of “failing to control their players” after a match against Brentford (?).

I went to the away game at Priestfield on Boxing Day that year. A bitterly cold day. Our game was one of only a few that got played anywhere in the country. Sure enough it was a bad tempered affair and after the match there were claims of racial abuse directed at Ronnie Maugé. During the match there were many “incidents”. They won 1-0 with a penalty given when Gary Clayton punched a goal bound shot over the bar (he was sent off – unbelievably the only one) and their goalie, Jim Stannard, made a string of fantastic saves. “They’re a bunch of thugs” was Mrs B’s undeniable conclusion at the end of the match.

The return game at Home Park was just as bad tempered. We won 1-0 (Martin Barlow). Any passing similarity to the beautiful game was purely coincidental. The 2 games were probably the most brutal matches I have ever seen and both times they could have dispensed with the white spherical thing altogether. The players would not have noticed.

Nevertheless Pulis worked wonders at Gillingham and hauled them from the brink of bankruptcy to the 2nd (real terms) division before leaving amid a flurry of accusations and counter accusations flying between Pulis and Chairman Scally which all ended up in court with Pulis victorious, if not entirely exonerated, as I recall.

He bounced around a bit after that managing Portsmouth, Stoke and Bristol City. His departure from each seemed to be acrimonious. Eventually he ended up with us as the successor to Wiliamson.

I was not delighted. He came with a long ball reputation and brought with him that most prodigal of sons: David Kemp. Dour and attritional football seemed to be the best we could hope for. Indeed Pulis had been nicknamed Binary Man due to the results his teams seemed to specialise in (0-0, 1-0, 0-1, 1-1 etc).

Since he has been here he has clearly turned our bunch of desperately failing pros into a competitive outfit. Morale on the pitch seems better. Fitness levels seem higher. We have rediscovered $’s “shape” where once there was none and if relegation once seemed a near certainty we now sit 9 points above the real trouble and have a game in hand. Most of our remaining games are at home. The season’s goal of bettering last year’s finish looks to be achievable.

Still I remain unconvinced that he is the right man for our long term prosperity but having said that there is no denying his short term efficacy.

Where do we go from here? Well our squad is desperately thin and we need new players in virtually every outfield position – if only as cover and for competition within the ranks. We are not safe yet and the immediate job is not yet done.

Our longterm goal has to be Premiership football and Pulis has never been there with any of his clubs. Will he get there with “mine”?

In fact will my club ever get here?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

You couldn't make it up!!

Shouldn't do it really but a sick child is eating most of my time at the moment. Saw this in the Western Morning News today:

Click here for article

I have never liked the BNP much or any of their ilk for that matter but this is utterly brilliant.

Apologies again for the blatant copyright infringement...


The far-right British National Party is having its own brand "British" wine produced in Cornwall - using grapes imported from Chile. The extremist party is having the wine produced by a wholesale company co-owned by Peter Mullins, a failed parliamentary candidate for the party.

Yesterday his business partner Phil Powell defended the wine's right to call itself British and claimed the region - which has produced several internationally-acclaimed wines - does not produce enough good grapes for the wine. His comments, and the wine he produces, were ridiculed yesterday by one of the region's top wine-makers and politicians.

Mr Powell insisted the wine, made by their firm Cornish Moorland Wines, at Bolventor, North Cornwall, is legitimately British.

"It is not Chilean wine - it is British wine," he said. "Any wine produced in Britain using grapes imported from anywhere in the world is British."

The wine is for sale on the BNP website for £100 per 12-bottle case, though only for British buyers. Foreigners have to pay extra.

On the BNP website, the wine is described as "containing 12 bottles of exclusive Cornish-produced wine, with Nick Griffin BNP artwork decorating each bottle".

It comes in bottles whose labels show party leader Griffin making a two-fingered "V for Victory" salute with the slogan "Drink for Britain with the BNP".

It makes no mention of the Chilean origin of the grapes used to make the wine. Mr Powell, who is not a member of the BNP, defended the sourcing of the grapes, claiming they only use the best available and that they would take grapes from wherever in the world had a good year.

"The wine has to be of the same quality all the time," he said. "We cannot do that with local grapes."

This view was called "a sham" by one of the region's award-winning wine producers, Bob Lindo, who owns the Camel Valley Vineyard, near Bodmin.

The vineyard was awarded the 2005 International Wine Challenge Gold Medal, Britain's only gold and the only one in the whole world for a sparkling wine from outside Champagne.

He derided the wine, saying those which are labelled as British are inferior quality.

"Wines labelled Cornish or English have to be made using British grapes, the Cornish wine industry is recognised internationally," he said. "The British-labelled wine industry is a laughing stock. The wine must be made from grape concentrate, Chilean grapes would be in a poor state by the time they got here."

Cornwall Trading Standards said yesterday that it was perfectly legal to call wine made from foreign grapes British if it was manufactured in this country.

The rip off c n p job looks a bit weird. Buy the paper if only for the photo of the wine bottle itself. Would you pay top-dollar for a bottle of dodgy plonk with a v-flicking fascist on the label?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Bobby Williamson - a sorry business.

Well this little jaunt through the life and times of an Argyle supporter wouldn’t be complete without a little scrutinisation of the recently departed manager Bobby Williamson.

He was nominated by $ as his replacement and duly appointed new manager following $’s shameful and shameless, if you get where I’m coming from, departure for Southampton. Strange really. Personally I’d’ve told him to go boil his head but $ had built up quite a close relationship with the board during his hugely successful time here. A relationship that still seems to be quite sound all this time later. Even now it’s the only incident of this type that I can recall unless there has been time and effort spent grooming somebody for an internal promotion.

In the period between $’s departure and Williamson’s arrival bona fide Argyle legend Kevin Summerfield took charge as caretaker-manager. An inauspicious few weeks. Dodgy results and performances put the seemingly unstoppable charge to the title in jeopardy. Promotion was even beginning to look less than certain.

In the 2003/4 season QPR performed the same role as Luton, without the ill-feeling, from 2 seasons before. Ian Holloway’s mob chased us all the way and Bristol City were in the mix too although they needed one of us to slip up on the run in. Indeed they beat us, as usual, at Ashton Gate in the closing weeks of the season.

Argyle were due to play QPR at home in the penultimate home game of the season. A win for us and the title was surely, although not mathematically unless Bristol City lost too which they duly did. The game was sold out for months.

We won 2-0. Gut-wrenching tension as the two teams slugged it out. The first goal was going to win the game. Trigger obliged with a classic centre-forward’s header. Friio wrapped things up. Two late goals. Glory.

[Utterly wonderful links to various stuff here: check out “The 2-0 Moment” if nothing else. If only life was always like that…]

Williamson had won the title in his first game in charge.

He didn’t figure in the post-match celebrations figuring he bore little responsibility for them. A definingly modest action indicative, I feel, of the bloke himself.

The next season started with a bang. Some good results saw us challenge at the top of the league. Surely all this is too good to continue…

It was.

Leading up to Christmas results tailed off worryingly. We slumped down the league and by the season’s end we were relieved not to be relegated.

It was during this time that all sorts of personal allegations surfaced on websites about his personal life. I won’t repeat any of them here. I don’t think any were ever proven to be true but there were so many and they were so viciously repeated so often that eventually Williamson’s position became untenable and he was sacked at the start of this season following some more indifferent performances and results.

All very sad. I said on his appointment that I thought he had taken on the hardest job in British football. The squad had not really been strengthened much during $’s meteoric rise. Good honest pros were to play 2 divisions higher than the one they had been signed to play in. Money was still tight. We needed new players, better players, a stronger and bigger squad. Worse than that BW was trying to fill the boots of a legend whose success just could not, reasonably, be copied or matched.

It has to be said that ultimately BW failed. Then again you could have had a hybrid of Sir Alf Ramsey and Jesus Christ himself and he would still have failed. He did not really move us forward. We ended up clinging on desperately with a squad of players who have subsequently proved to be extremely limited at this level.

Although there are some who would claim this to be a success at this level given our history!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Football On The Telly - A Rant

Go back in time to the first SKY deal. There were several interested parties. ITV were serious contenders and desperate for the coverage as were SKY.

At the time the England team were suffering from a spate of not qualifying for major tournaments. Football as an entity was in dispute with TV and there was a period where there was no football at all on TV. Imagine that today!!

The big clubs felt that they were not getting as much as they “deserved” from the pot of TV monies with the breakdown being something like 1/2 of all revenue for Div1, ¼ for Div 2 and 1/8 each for Divs 3 and 4. They also resented sharing all gate receipts with their opponents. So they stopped. All gate receipts went to the home club. The big clubs had begun to flex their muscles.

Emboldened by this little coup they pressed on. TV started showing games again on an ad hoc basis on the BBC and ITV.

Then the big boys (i.e. all Div 1 clubs) decided to resign from the Football League and continue under the auspices of the FA. The Premier League and silly divisional names were born. The excuse was to reduce the number of teams and thus games in the PL so that the top players were less likely to be over-tired come the Summer competitions allowing the National side a better chance to be successful. There’s one born every minute so they say.

Turkeys, however are not keen on Christmas, and the cuts made were much smaller than first intended. The also rans in the PL were too numerous to allow the elite to get the vote through and none of the clubs really wanted less games because it meant less gate revenue.

Next came the play-offs, increasing the number of games played, where the team above the relegation spots went into competition with those from lower divisions. This didn’t last long either. The fear of relegation put an end to it. The play-offs were a money spinner and continued in today’s format with the 2-legged final replaced by a show piece one-off match.

The Daddy of them all though was the exclusive TV deal for Live rights to broadcast. SKY as a new operator in a virgin market was under threat. Originally there had been a competitor in BSB. There wasn’t room for 2 companies and they “merged” (in reality a SKY takeover) forming BSKYB as we have it today. Both companies were hugely in debt. Set up costs were massive and uptake had been slow. A boost was desperately needed or they were down the pan.

When the bidding process for the football coverage started sealed bids were to be posted and considered by the football clubs with the deal going to the highest bidder. BSKYB had a man on the inside in the shape of Alan Sugar, then chairman of Spurs, the manufacturer of the hardware needed to receive the satellite signal. AMSTRAD (Alan Michael Sugar Trading) was looking dodgy too – the home word processing market was saturated and his foray into Hi-Fi failed big time. AMSTRAD gear was a by-word for cheap, unreliable tat.

Quite simply BSKYB and AMSTRAD (and thus by association Spurs, too) could not afford to allow anybody else to get the deal. At the last moment BSKYB’s negotiator was over-heard on a phone call saying “we have to blow them out of the water”. A new, improved and very late BSKYB bid was made, ITV’s bid was dwarfed, they didn’t have time to launch a counter punch and riches beyond the dreams of the clubs who set up the PL fell into their laps.

(Detailed at some length in the book "Moving The Goalposts" by Ed Horton.)

Football was the Trojan horse needed by BSKYB to be successful. It needed something that die hard and loyal fans, sorry customers, would pay for and the only alternatives would have been to buy out major soaps like Corrie or EastEnders. These were never up for grabs so they turned their attention to sport and football in particular. Films? You’re having a laugh.

Since then they have gobbled up virtually everything else: cricket, rugbies, golf, boxing, motor sport and far more besides. Sport is their crowning achievement and the jewel in their crown. Without it they would have foundered long ago.

Football, at the top level, has done really well in financial terms out of the deal but BSKYB has done far better. Football, for all the vast sums involved has sold itself cheaply and along the way has lost no small part of it’s soul.

But it’s even worse than that. BSKYB began buying up shares in clubs always being careful not to exceed the 10% limit that would mean they were only allowed to invest in one club. Having a large say in the ownership of several clubs is quite useful in their line of business. The biggest clubs then set about corralling the bulk of the TV income themselves. Man Utd, to chose but one, finish higher up the league so they get more prize money, they are on TV the most so they get more appearance money, they get the biggest crowds so they get more gate money. With all the financial advantages in their favour they maintain market dominance and the process becomes self-perpetuating and people like the Glazers recognize a cash cow when they see one. It makes me laugh to hear their fans carp about Abramovich and how unfair it all is. They just don’t like it when the boot is on the other foot.

Not content with dominating national football the clubs then set their sights on European football. The abomination that is the Champions League was created involving in most cases neither Champions nor a League and so it continues.

But make no mistake about it at the very heart of the issue lies control and who has it now? The fans? Individual clubs? The PL? The FA? The Football League? BSKYB?

What time did the coaches leave Plymouth for Norwich again?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Neil Young

Time for a diversion and my first non-Argyle posting.

The other day a mate asked me what the best Neil Young album was. As ever I didn’t really give a straight answer.

Why not?

Well over the years he has been incredibly prolific and has always ploughed his own furrow. Although best known for his acoustic guitar and harmonica stuff he has also spread himself fairly widely and experimented with many differing styles along the way. Most famously in a rock style, mostly with the backing band Crazy Horse, but sometimes encompassing blues and more besides.

My favourite album has to be Rust Never Sleeps which I remember buying as a result of a day trip to the Isle Of Wight, We went past a record shop and my Dad offered to buy me an album. This was a very rare occurrence in those days and as a schoolboy I greedily added it to my nascent collection (Led Zep IV, Sgt Pepper, Help, Heroes, Relics, Tubular Bells, Wings At The Speed Of Sound being the others as I recall). We were staying in Portchester, near Portsmouth, with relatives and I eagerly put it on their record player when we got back. I wasn’t disappointed and it remains my favourite to this day with one side of nicely mellow acoustic stuff and one side of the most raucous rock (with Crazy Horse, natch) imaginable. The album also contains my 2 favourite Neil young songs: Thrasher and Powderfinger.

I wouldn’t recommend that one though. The heavy side is not to every one’s taste and could well be far too “rocky” for some.

I wouldn’t choose any of his more experimental works, either. They are, to put it mildly, very uneven in quality. He may have been going for yonks but he has singularly lacked a quality control department along the way.

Recently I have got Prairie Wind which shows him in refective mood following the death of his father, a famous Canadian ice hockey commentator, and his own recovery from life-threatening illness. Very much in the acoustic mode I’d strongly recommend this album but it is far too recent to be considered the best. Nostalgia hasn’t yet had a chance to work it’s magic. In the press reviews the album was acclaimed as the third in a trilogy starting with Harvest in the ‘70s and continuing with Harvest Moon in the ‘90s. Both of these are excellent, too,

I’d go way back to the early ‘70s for the best one, though, and would recommend After The Goldrush. So old it’s probably very cheap to buy and nicely mixing the electric and acoustic stuff. Some wonderful songs and some beautiful lyrics.

What more could you want?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Right To Reply

Obviously you are able to place a comment against any of my ramblings - and please feel free to do so.

You may consider this to be insufficiently visible should I say something which has really got your goat.

Should you wish to liberate your goat I will be happy to publish a heading and title of your choice (within obvious restraints of common sense and decency) along with any content that you submit to me as long as an ID can be assigned to the "complainant" and a valid reason given just as I would publish one of my own pieces.

You can do this in one of 3 ways:

1. Simply by replying via comments on here.
2. emailing me using the link on these pages.
3. Via P@soti PM if you are a registered user there.

Can't say much fairer than that, can I?

Monday, January 09, 2006

Paul Sturrock

Time to bite the bullet and give my view on our ex-manager.

If you look back in this blog to the article entitled “Dead Cat Bounce” then you’ll have a pretty decent idea as to where the club was when he arrived. Check out our current league placing and see where we are now. That radical transformation is down, largely, to the efforts of one man and that man is Paul Sturrock.

In my opinion he is one of the best managers currently plying his trade in English football and has quite a remarkable level of success within the game; initially with Argyle (2 Championships – almost – in 3 years) and latterly with Sheffield Wednesday’s 2005 play-off victory.

All achieved with next to no expenditure.

When he joined Argyle we were well and truly in the Doldrums. The whole club was dead on it’s feet. The ground was crumbling, we were 91st out of 92 in the professional football pyramid. We had more than our share of gutless and strolling players. Rumours of poor morale within the squad abounded. All in line really with the events of the preceding few years which had seen us plummet down the slippery slope towards oblivion.

Sturrock took the shambles and shook it roughly by the throat. A motley bunch of desperadoes and ne’er-do-wells were given the shock of their knives. Many players came and went on trial. Some stayed. Most of the incumbents on his arrival were history in less than 6 months.

The team was dragged kicking and screaming from the bottom of the 4th Division to the edge of the play-off race. Indeed if a handful of disappointing late results had been different we would have, against all expectation, have won a play-off spot. Those last few games proved to be a blessing in disguise; various formations were tried, positional changes made and triallists started.

Then came Sturrock’s first full season.

During the close season it was announced that the ground was going to be redeveloped. Loans, grants and other financial arrangements were made and the bull-dozers went in. Fascinatingly the demolition was covered as it happened on the excellent Greens On Screen site and we awaited the forthcoming season with mixed feelings.

We started with only the Mayflower side of the ground open and the other 3 sides a building site. Our first home game was against Shrewsbury (lost 1-0) – a game we dominated from start to finish only to get beaten by a very late goal completely against the run of play. Our second was v. Rochdale (lost 2-1) where again we played well for no reward. In between we drew away at Hull (0-0). Not a great start. Our only goal was an own goal!!

The inevitable gloom didn’t last long. The season was kickstarted with an exciting 3-2 win at Rushden & Diamonds. Massively important global events didn’t distract as we then beat Swansea at home 3-1. Massively important global events? The date was 9/11/2001. Never, I suspect, to be forgotten.

I don’t intend to write a blow-by-blow account of the season so fast forward to the end of September. Luton, managed by Joe Kinnear, were the visitors and in the build up to the game JK made widely reported comments which were quite disparaging to us and, in effect, totally unprofessional. Those comments inspired 10 man Argyle (Micky Evans was sent off – a decision subsequently overturned) to win 2-1 in front of a raucous crowd of less than 6000 all packed onto one side of the ground.

Game on!!

Kinnear’s comments could not have contrasted more starkly with Sturrock’s approach. He was never less than complimentary about our opponents. If they had lost 10 in a row he would say “they are due a win and desperate for a result – it will be our hardest game yet”. If they had won 10 in a row he would say “they are an excellently organised team who work hard for one another and have good players throughout – it will be our hardest game yet”.

The rivalry between us and Luton underscored the whole season. We went from strength to strength. We ended the season with the 2nd best ever points total by any team (102). A club record number of clean sheets and many others besides. Chased every inch of the way by Luton we were Champions come May. Cue scenes the likes of which we had never seen in Plymouth before.

A modest season followed. We finished 8th before the whole glorious surge to ultimate triumph started once again the following season. However come the glorious day Bobby Williamson was at the helm and Sturrock was long gone. A “replay” of the joyous celebrations of 2 years before followed.

Despite all of his, quite incredible, achievements I just can’t find it in my heart to feel anything other than resentment towards Sturrock. He was poached by Southampton to be their manager in a move that spectacularly failed for both of them. Southampton were soon to be relegated from the PL whilst Sturrock would be sacked after only 6 games the following season.

Why the resentment? Various quotes emerged in the press. “It took me less than 30 seconds to decide” was one of my favourites. Especially when it was compared to “I would only leave Plymouth to manage AC Milan!!” There were others.

An era was over and uncertainty reigned where once there had been hope. Expectation even.

Although we still were promoted as Champions once again things were never to be the same. Sturrock poached our coaching staff. He came sniffing around our players signing Steve Adams and Graham Coughlan permanently and Hasney Aljofree on loan – by the now manager of Sheffield Wednesday.

So why my hostility towards him? Above all it was because I was sure that as long as he was in charge, despite the ups and downs unavoidable in football, everything would work out fine in the end. I had never really felt that before. I had, deluded, visions of him being an iconic figure for us in the Revie/Shankly/Clough/Stein mould. To some he still is just that. I believed he was the man to awaken the “Sleeping Giant” that is Plymouth Argyle and that one day he would lead us into the Promised Land of Premiership football for the first time in our 100 years or so of under-achievement but he’s gone and the signs are he’s not coming back.

Should his name crop up in future I will refer to him as $ - a fitting epitaph for a man who turned out to be as greedy and cash motivated as the most venal, grasping tightwad you could imagine. He turned out to know the price of everything and the value of nothing. For that I dislike him.

He also killed a dream. For that I despise him.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Don't Be Shy!!

Someone asked me the other day how many hits I'd been getting. Well I'm not especially techy and had no idea. The template I followed for the blog did not include a hit counter and I had only ever had one person post a reply on here!! So I guessed 2.

"Why bother?" they snorted and it set the old grey cells whirring. Why bother, indeed.

On Friday I discovered how to add a hit counter and you can see it right at the bottom of the page. 12 hits so far, I think, so if you read this you are in exclusive company!!

Interestingly the hit counter also collates some basic info about those viewing this blog* and I can reveal that people from such diverse places as Watford, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Plymouth, Leeds, LA, Lancaster (or perhaps Blackpool), Eldrup (Denmark) and Holmdel (New Jersey) have visited. Some of them more than once so my ramblings can't be too boring.

Quite how the counter knows where you are I don't know but it is at least mildly interesting for me to find out even if it is only vaguely accurate.

I assume that those who have peeked are all Argyle fans. I reckon I can guess the IDs of two of you (Ed and Andy) - as for the rest of you let yourselves be known and post a reply. You must have some kind of response to my musings. Self-important and opinionated drivel you may consider it to be and fair enough to those that do. Just don't be afraid to say so!!

*There is some other stuff generated by the counter but it's very dull. If you click on the counter itself you can view it all.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


One of the most, perhaps the most, significant event in the recent history of our club was the announcement that the ground was going to be redeveloped. If my memory is correct it was McCauley who was in charge at the time. Little were we to know that this was going to be the final act of the tragi-comedy that defined his leadership. His legacy is mixed and there is much to denigrate about his time at the club but he should be congratulated for the decision to hang on as long as he did and not to sell out to shady characters like Scardino or Tiller. These two sniffed around the club and there were elements fiercely in favour of them, or at least pro-anybody-but-McCauley, and they have proved to be less than attractive individuals to be associated with this, or indeed any, football club since.

After a summer of watching Home Park getting flattened on GoS the season started with the bombshell announcement that McCauley had sold up. Later it emerged that he had sold up to a loose collective of individuals, Argyle fans one and all. They had simply had enough. Money seemed to be tight and McCauley lingered awhile until financial shenanigans were completed and eventually he moved on. Those responsible for the takeover were Messrs Stapleton, Gill, Warren, Jones and Foot and, perhaps, in no small way the owners of Pasoti without whom the Cooperage gig would never have happened and without that gig the key personnel would never have met.

Once they were in control the issue of who would be chairman had to be decided. Paul Stapleton, being Plymouth based and with a background in accounting was the logical choice. Each of the directors had an equal say in all decisions and presumably the Chairman had the casting vote whenever necessary as is the norm. A modest 5 Year Plan was published which was soon exceeded in every respect but more of that later.

I, like just about everybody else, was delighted to see the McCauley era come to an end. I knew next to nothing about the new people other than what we all knew about Michael Foot and vaguely knowing Nic Warren through us having been at primary school together many years before. The presence of Michael Foot was a Godsend as far as the legitimacy and the integrity of the new people was concerned and everybody supported them. Then came $’s (sorry I just can’t help myself - I'll explain on here one day) Glory Years. Joy was unconfined all-round and all was going swimmingly. McCauley had long since left and been replaced. The only flies in the ointment seemed to be the puzzling affair surrounding the dismissal of McNulty as CEO and the purchase of Plymouth Cricket Club by the Plymouth-based directors. Rumours surfaced of a Plymouth/London split in the boardroom…

$ cleared off which was a body blow to us all and Williamson arrived. In due course Messrs Jones and Foot stood down from the board in circumstances that have never been made public, I feel. The loss of these two was seismic. Peter Jones had handled the media in the aftermath of the $ departure with no little skill and integrity. We all remember his “stuck pig” posting on Pasoti. Michael Foot’s presence was far more ethereal and far more to do with spirit rather than deed. He probably did next to nothing on a day-to-day basis but his mere presence acted as a bullet-proof vest for the club. There could be no accusations of grasping capitalism or narrow personal self-interest whilst his name was attached to the club. It was/is unthinkable that he would be any part of such things. But leave they did. Foot’s advancing years obviously being a factor. I had always assumed that his interest in the club would be passed along to Paul Foot when the time came but unfortunately Paul Foot died and the world lost much more than “just another journalist” when he did. Was this why Michael Foot decided to stand down? I don’t know and it is all supposition. One thing is certain Foot and Jones were very closely allied, and probably still are, and as friends there is no reason why they shouldn’t have been.

This potted history brings us up to now. The Glory Years have gone. Williamson has gone. We are no longer swaggering around like playground bullies administering a good beating to whoever comes in our path. We are struggling and decisions have to be made. Football is so cash-orientated these days that only the richest clubs find success and the poorest fall by the wayside. There is no way we can consider ourselves a rich club although we can consider ourselves financially stable and we have done for a few years now. The challenges that face us now were inconceivable when P1 was announced or when the 5 Year Plan was published and that is the nub. P1 allowed for an 18500 capacity and at the time I would have argued that it was too small but the funding came from here, there and everywhere and some of it was contingent on current attendances and to lobby for 18500 when crowds were around 4000 was actually quite a result in retrospect. Those plans were too small then and they are too small now.

This raises the question of P2. Why is it all so quiet? Why should it be a secret? Why can nobody actually commit to anything? Who knows? One thing is certain and that is that the club ought to be letting us know something even if it is a statement as bland as all current plans have been deferred. If not the club then the council. Tudor Evans must not be allowed to wriggle away from his balcony promise. Until P2 is planned and sorted then it has a knock-on effect to all of the clubs fiscal planning. We need to pay for it and we need to cover lost revenue whilst the build takes place. We also need to improve the team in order to compete at this level and to go forward and that costs, too. There are decisions to be made about the future of the club and those include whether to go for outside investment or whether to try to operate within the constraints of current income. Without knowing what the plans for P2 are or without knowing what the next 5 Year Plan will include then we just have to accept that those currently in situ are doing the best they can for the club. We have to accept that they are making the right decisions and that if they have rejected offers of investment then the terms of that investment must have been unfavourable in some way to the club. Never at any stage has there been reason to think otherwise since the arrival of Stapleton and Co many moons ago. If I appear to have adopted an aggressive pro-board stance on this issue it’s because, on the whole, I am delighted with the achievements of the club in recent years and see no reason to think that the board will jeopardize those achievements either now or in the future.

If I have seemed overly combative in arguing my point it is because the current sniping about the board is very reminiscent of the low-level sniping that was aimed at BW to begin with. This got worse and worse and in many instances it was unjustifiable. It just seems to me that the sharks having tasted blood have moved on and are now after a bigger meal. For people who I consider to be decent and doing a decent job to be subjected to all this innuendo, against which it is impossible to argue unless you are on the inside (and in which case you should be big enough to just ignore it), is just not good enough. All of those alledging that huge investment has been turned down know exactly what they are doing and they are destabilizing the current leadership of the club on purpose – there is no other explanation. The club cannot be seen to reply to tittle-tattle on a messageboard so they cannot give the reasons why the alledged investment has been turned down and unless those constantly alluding to it are able to enlighten us as to the terms and conditions then I am happy to accept that the board are making the right decision on behalf of the club, themselves, me and all the other footsoldiers in the Green Army.

The above is a slightly amended version of a Pasoti posting I made some time ago but it largely joins a few dots between the McCauley era and now.