Punch and July For 'Pool?
Where did the 'close season` go then? After the exhausting euphoria of May we collapsed into June and waited for the signings to flow whilst basking in the glory of promotion. There were knowing nods when Rachubka signed, and football`s worst kept secret - John Hills returning - was generally acknowledged as a decent 'squad strengthener`. Gary Taylor-Fletcher from Huddersfield seemed another good squad man with a bit of flair. Next was the addition of Mike Flynn from Gillingham, a solid player who typifies the Grayson football ethos. So far, so good. I could go away on my holidays to have a fortnight away in the hills of Scotland, far from football and be able to recharge my batteries. I also thought I`d be coming home to a very positive Bloomfield Road.
How wrong could I be? First of all what seemed initially to be a rumour which was surely started by some ne`er-do-well PNE fan about Wes Hoolahan turned into a farce of Brian Rix proportions except that it wasn`t funny. The rights and wrongs of the situation may come to light in the future but as I tap this out on my PC with less than two weeks to the biggest league game for BFC in 29 years it would seem that our star man is in limbo and we are facing up to life in the Championship without our little Irish wizard for the immediate future. Add that to a distinct lack of activity in the transfer market, no 'WOW` signings, indifferent performances and results in the pre-season games and gloom and doom on some of the messageboards and suddenly it feels like we are back 12 months in time.
The reason for all this? I believe that we punched way above our weight last season. Promotion, although fantastic, has come unexpectedly and much too quickly for the club. I`ll lay money that the business plan was for a sustained and realistic promotion push this season. As a result we have seen expectations soar but chaos has ensued off the pitch and no appreciable advances on it.
The ticket office continues to be a shambolic mess. I do not wish to criticise individuals here, I`m sure that they are doing their best but the structure and organisation of the entire marketing side of the club is still lower league - and compared to some 'smaller` clubs in League One that is an insult to them. The folly of lack of investment in ground development and maintenance has been clearly illustrated by the problems we now face getting people into Bloomfield Road and it will be interesting to see if the demands created by our sudden elevation can be coped with.
Time is ticking away and there is no movement at the south end of the ground, a lot of us have not got our season tickets and the shop has run out of new shirts (and whilst on a rant the statue of Morty is a disgrace, overgrown and lacking any kind of lighting or even a sign with his achievements on) - this is all oh so familiar territory. We need to move on, to progress. It is no use sitting on a safe and secure small time business plan - we are in with the big boys now and with the big time comes the need to think big. Somewhere in between Mr Belokon`s wildly optimistic Premiership dream and Karl`s safety first attitude lies the territory into which we have to go to survive. We need people at the club who know how to grow the business and who can enthuse a fan base. Unfortunately we look exactly what we are at the moment - a tiny fish in a huge pond.
So, I go into August somewhat deflated by the general atmosphere and wondering why we are going to Leicester for our biggest game in donkey`s years with apparently only just over 1,000 tickets sold. Has the Wembley factor completely disappeared? We face some daunting games this month and our support will be crucial in all of them. Is this not what we have all wanted for many many years? I have no doubts that the real 'Pool fans will do their bit as they have over and over again, I just hope that we see a lead from the board - not so much words of what we are going to do as action doing it.
Up the Wizards!