Predictably the regular blogs have fallen by the wayside as rugby comes along and eats up its fair share of my time for both writing and watching, but there is still a passion there for Chesham United. Still an interest…and finally now a point on the board, and two cup victories to celebrate.
It’s too early to say that the tide has turned for Chesham United, but certainly things have picked up from a real low of losing at Kings Langley and being rooted to the bottom of the league table. It’s better, but slow progress. The loan arrival of Dejon Noel-Williams (son of former Watford player, Gifton) has certainly added some potency to our attack. He was signed just in time to play a part in a 1-1 draw at home to Wimborne (Woo-Hoo – a league point!) and played a significant part in what, lets be honest, was a surprise FA Cup win over Biggleswade Town.
The reward for the FA Cup heroics is not great, an away trip to Conference South side Welling United, but it will have given supporters, players and officials all a bit of belief. For the Board I am sure it is a huge sigh of relief, sticking with a manager after five straight league defeats shows loyalty and belief that not all clubs will demonstrate…And if the rumours are to be believed (well, lets be honest, they were a bit more than rumours!) it sounds like as a club we did become pretty close to “parting ways” with the manager after a training session prior to the FA Cup game, but for reasons only the manager and the directors (and everyone else who has been told about it) will ever know, the change did not happen. Either way, it seems that a certain ex-Wycombe striker that can often be seen when things are not going well for a Chesham manager, went home that night without the job he thought he might have. Allegedly.
So how are things going off the field? Well I’m really pleased to say that my comments in this blog have been taken in the manner they were intended and rather than me being seen as a gobby troublemaker, I have been encouraged to help out where I can with an acceptance that there is room for improvement.
I’m still a little bit unsure how I feel about the Berks & Bucks Senior Cup non-entry situation – I think it is still the shocking lack of communication that really gets me, and the way nobody considered it news worth sharing with supporters. From a financial perspective I do get it. This week we played Dunstable Town at home in the Southern League Challenge Cup, ok England were on the television that night, and it was raining, but a crowd of just 72 really does make you wonder if it is worth it. Certainly not at £10 per head for adults anyway. I don’t know if the league dictate entrance fees for these games, but it is crying out for £5 per head surely…At least get some people down seeing the team, and spending some money over the bar. As it happens it was a really enjoyable evening, Chesham winning the match 5-3.
The club did finally come out with a statement regarding the Berks & Bucks Cup, wanting to take the opportunity to express that it was a financial decision which regrettably was not communicated at the time like it perhaps should have been. Reading between the lines, I think what they would really like to have said was that they were really quite pissed off that despite winning it last year, extending the season for the players by a week and attracting a crowd in excess of 500 for the final, the club got absolutely bugger all money from gate receipts, prize money or anything for winning the competition. In fairness, that does suck somewhat. Of course the statement had to be a little more tactful than that, I know that because I ended up writing it for them!
Another press release/news article I helped with (wrote!) was regarding the new academy the club is starting up next season. I was tipped off, by two different sources, on the Thursday before the FA Cup game that my help might be appreciated with a press release the following morning. Putting two and two together I started to draft the news about how the club and Jon Meakes had come to a mutual agreement…LOL, that would be really quite funny if I was joking!…
Anyway, next day I get a phone call on my way home and I am told about the new academy being started up next year, I pulled together a couple of quotes and once approved worked with the website and social media guys to spread the word – Some good news coming out of Chesham United, and supporters are amongst the first to be told about it. Brilliant, isn’t that the way it should be?
Well, yes, I guess it is; though to be honest I was a little shocked this week when asked to write some more comments for the launch that will come from the academy itself to discover that neither Jon Meakes or Mark Swales knew about the academy until they saw the press release I sent out! There was me writing all this text about it being part of the master plan, creating a route through to the First Team and all along the First Team management know nothing about it! For the record, I think the academy is great news and I really hope it proves to be a success, but there did seem to be another communication breakdown.
Another area where Chesham United look to be making positive steps is surrounding Non-League Day which takes place on October 13th when Chesham play host to Salisbury City. Ryan Woolnough has taken the lead in pulling the different sections together to try and attract a decent crowd with a real family/community feel. Just before the Wimborne game I attended a planning meeting in the boardroom (that felt weird) and there are some great ideas being planned and I really hope we can make a success of the occasion. I don’t want to spoil things by talking about any of the activities planned, but I really hope people are able to work together and show Chesham United as the club we know it can be.
I am very conscious of the temptation to get too involved, or more importantly, over-commit to things that I may not be able to keep to my word on. As the rugby season moves on I am already starting to miss Saturday matches with Saracens first home game last week, a fantastic Newcastle trip already in the bag and flights, hotel and tickets booked for Glasgow away. With all that in mind, plus my son’s rugby training on Wednesday evening and matches on Sunday, then I write the match report for their website and the local press…there is only so much time I have available.
l’m already feeling bad as I feel I’m letting down a relatively new and active member of the Supporters Trust who has approached me about producing some fixture cards with club information on them for handing out, and I haven’t found the time to successfully help out yet. Or, more honestly, when I have found the time I have really struggled to get my head around the design and how best to make it look, and then with each day, week that passes the fixtures become out of date; they change with cup runs and then there are the plans for Non-League Day which could be part of the same idea and…well, my head is all over the place with this one and I just can’t get it right – Sorry.
I have also made some commitments to the programme for each home game, it might not always be obvious for all to see, but it is more time that I have to make sure I allocate.
It is back to league action tomorrow, but again I will be missing the game with the egg-shaped ball taking priority as my son and I jump on the train at Hemel and head direct to Northampton for a lunchtime Nando’s, pre-match beer and meet up with the Sarries on Tour fans group and then on to Franklin’s Gardens where we hope Saracens can carry on from last year when we absolutely mullered The Saints on four separate occasions! However, I will be keeping my phone to hand, hoping that Chesham United can get something out of a tough looking game away at Taunton Town.
Taunton have had a decent start to the season, look to be one of the favourites for promotion, and with us sitting bottom of the league it will take a real optimist to believe we can get anything out of the game, but you would have said that before the FA Cup against Biggleswade as well! That said, our hosts have just lost their manager to Truro City, so who knows. What I do know is that it has the potential to be a bit of a nightmare journey for both the team and supporters – I remember we went there for what I believe was the first game of the season many years ago, the traffic was a nightmare, took hours to get there and back…and the game finished 0-0! Here’s hoping that those making the effort on Saturday have a better day than that.
So things are looking a bit brighter, but the reality remains that the club won’t truly start to move in a positive direction, any direction in fact, until the white elephant in the room is addressed. It seems that there are different opinions and updates depending on who you talk to about the new ground, ranging from “oh yes, it is definitely happening, imminently” to “ha, it will never happen in our lifetime”, and this is just from people that are supposedly very close to the situation. In the meantime The Meadow continues to deteriorate. Without doubt one of the best grounds in the league, but in desperate need of some TLC (it looked like part of the concrete perimeter wall was falling away and cordoned off on Tuesday down The Meadow End, and the Managers Office is full of buckets collecting rain water that falls through the roof), but whilst the plan is still to move away shortly, nobody is looking to spend any money on it and the deterioration will continue.
i just hope some decision or announcement, either way, can happen sooner or later and we can park aside the intriguing debate as to whether the prospect of a life-changing new ground is realistic, hopeful or just delusional. Answers on a postcard.