I hope you all had a tremendous Christmas yesterday, and there'll be a very warm welcome to Shawbridge to all supporters old and new at today's game against Colne. I write this after our game versus Radcliffe and before we took the long trip to Kidsgrove last weekend.
None of us were expecting the 7-0 scoreline against Radcliffe, but we were aware that we would be weak. Lee has outlined in today's programme notes some of the reasons for that and I can assure you all that he and his team have been working incredibly hard and has made full use of his contacts to strengthen the team, and that our injured players are on the road to recovery.
The poor result highlighted the interest that there is in the Club from some who rarely come to Shawbridge, but aren’t afraid to share their expertise online for all to see.
Nothing new in that, but how much we would sincerely appreciate it if they came forward to offer their help in a constructive way. As I’ve been heard to say many times ‘If it was easy everybody would be doing it!’.
I keep hearing the criticism that the club has no ambition? As a board we have nothing to gain from being unambitious. The directors aren’t paid; we’re 7-days-a-week volunteers with careers and families, and we take no pleasure in having a mid/low budget.
But our job is to ensure that the town has a club that survives and, ironically, that’s why I was asked to join the committee in January 2006 when the club was financially in dire straits.
How often does over-ambition backfire? There are many examples in Lancashire alone. The club also has to have a rainy day fund, quite literally. We couldn’t anticipate the destruction of the stand in the March storms, and our ageing floodlights are an area of concern which, with grant funding, would require us to find over £20k. We can’t play at this level without them.
We need to find the next leaders. The person organising the new stand is the same person who cooks food for 40 players. The person who sorts the club’s tax/insurance/wages is the same person who covers the turnstile. The people who deal with the club’s correspondence are the same people who coordinates the matchday car park. The people who maintain the ground, are the same people who wash the kit and collect the balls. The person who compiles this programme is the same person who watched the World Cup in our clubhouse whilst painting walls.
Despite what you may have heard, we aren’t a closed shop. We want and need younger people with ideas to get involved behind the scenes, to learn the ropes of a semi-professional club. The work and time from our currently small roster of volunteers goes purely into ensuring that there’s a game for us all to watch at 3pm.
We know we’re not perfect. We need to improve our communication to you (which is helped by Lee’s programme notes and interviews), and we need to be closer personally to all of our sponsors and contributors. Hopefully with more help that should free up some time to do so.
It’s correct to say that attendances are lower this season but it needs much more investigation to provide the reasons for that, and is not purely restricted to our position in the league table. Rovers are having a better season than of late, as are Stanley, but also some of the big hitters are no longer teams in our league. We no longer compete against the likes of Bamber Bridge or Scarborough, who historically have had a good travelling support. These have been replaced by Market Drayton, Chasetown and others who have a smaller following. Readers of the Non-League Paper each weekend will be all too aware of the level of support up and down the country.
I mentioned the stand earlier in the piece. A couple of companies came to us at the time but were price prohibitive at circa £50k. We worked hard on getting funding from The FA but that was also refused. A local company approached us who were sympathetic to our position and have agreed to use their own volunteers to keep the project as low cost as possible. I will make full use of the £9.5k that was amazingly raised.
I greatly thank our Directors and all the volunteers for all their effort in and around the ground. A thank you also to our hard-working U21 management, Steve and Dave, as without them there would be no youth team.
And I thank you, the Blues fans, for your continued support. I hope you all enjoyed the festive season and wish you and yours the best for 2019.
Our season to date has not been plain sailing, but we continue to strive to improve and maintain a club that we hope you can be proud of.
Updated 11:22 - 1 Feb 2019 by Michael Barker