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Dec 6, 2004
Chairman's Blog

I promised to let you have my thoughts upon my “likes and dislikes of the football industry”.

I can sum this up in one four letter word beginning with f… yes you’ve got it FANS!

My immediate thought is that the most likeable part of football is winning. However on reflection that is not what gives me the greatest excitement, because if I was in a near empty stadium winning would be very secondary. It is the passion that exudes from “you lot” that makes all this worthwhile.

That is not a sycophantic comment because that is not me at all. It is simply the buzz that is created by football played at a tempo and when finished with a goal, gets us all out of our seats.

I remember Dave Webb saying to me when I first brought him back “enjoy the ride!” Unfortunately Dave was not around long enough to enjoy the ride sufficiently but nevertheless he immediately brought a positive attitude to the Club and eventually handed the mantle over to Steve Tilson who has continued that with aplomb.

In thinking about this topic I am reminded of a number of nights that serve to emphasise what I mean. Of course beating Bristol to get promoted as Champions from League 1 and the sight of Sean Goater being overwhelmed is a memory that will last forever.

What about the night against Norwich with Mark Gower equalising to 3-3 in the 90th minute. For me another brilliant evening was up at Barnsley in the FA Cup which was the first occasion I witnessed the supporters dancing up and down the aisles to the “Ring of Fire”. A spectacular sight and one that even now brings a smile to my face.

Another great memory was Hartlepool away, again in League 1, when Flavs pulled off innumerable outstanding saves only for us to nick it 2-1 in the final minute.

Of course Manchester United was also an outstanding night for us all but sometimes it is the away games where fans out-sing the home crowd such as against Birmingham on a Tuesday night in late January 2007. I remember a Brummie supporter turning round to me at the end and saying “it’s been a good week for you Ron, you got planning consent on the new stadium and you have just made monkeys of us!” Strange, there is no doubt he was a Birmingham supporter but he definitely had an Essex accent.

It is funny the things you remember but when it boils down to the ingredients of what makes the industry so likeable the common denominator has to be the Club’s supporters. I have said many times how proud I am of the support the Club generates and I just want that passion to keep growing and the following to be renowned. It really is the lifeblood of our Club and the main building block that will take us to greater things.

When you are at one with the Club, as I am, it is great that we are all on the same page and singing from the same song sheet. Equally, for all those reasons, unfortunately one of my principal dislikes of the industry is when a very small minority of supporters – but nevertheless vocal – choose to be antagonistic and provocative.

I am only ever going to tell the Club’s supporters how it is and I have gone to some lengths to explain the behind the scenes activities to help that understanding. It is when those explanations that reason and rationalise are just discarded and individuals want to promote anarchy. Why would anybody want to do that if they are truly supporters of The Blues?

As I have said in a recent newspaper article I am very accessible – probably too accessible – and many supporters have my email address and mobile number and on occasions that is abused.

For instance, to highlight what I mean, on Wednesday a supporter text me reminding me that the transfer window is open and that we should be signing six new players, going on to say that I was the only person who thought differently. I know such comments are ridiculous but it is the complete lack of forethought of even making that statement that bewilders me. Surely every fan has an understanding of how these things work and that the decisions emanate from the Manager who right now actually wants three more players to add to his squad of 18. A fact widely publicised not only in the Club’s media but also the press.

Anyway, I telephoned the number from the text but the “fan”, who in any event gave a fictitious name (or is not on the Club’s database anywhere) did not pick up. I guess his feelings are not so strong after all. In fact a lot of these antagonists, it seems, prefer to hide behind pseudonyms and I could give you another prime example but it adds little.

The point I am trying to make is that you, the supporters of the Club, create the highs and the lows and I want you to know that my continual and unrelenting objective is to cut out the lows. Success is only ever achieved in any football club by all the fans and management pulling together and not whinging at the first opportunity.

We have a fantastic fan base and I receive many supportive emails and I guess it is because I am a fairly rational individual (or at least I hope so) that people can go out of their way to seek to destroy the Club they profess to support. Unless they are not supporters of Southend United at all but somehow I think they are people that attend Roots Hall.

Anyway, enough of those very, very few Southend fans that try and undermine the great spirit that we have. From previous blogs you will also know that a close second in my dislike charts are football agents. Often not the individuals who can be quite charming on a one to one basis but moreover the lack of morality when it comes to transfer negotiations. Ultimately it is a player that must make the final decision but en route there is a lot of “guidance” that comes from the agent.

Supporters of course know that we were unable to secure the transfer of Theo Robinson but did agree terms with his agent. However we did not agree with the valuation put on the player by Watford. There was another situation very recently where we agreed terms with the player’s agent for Ben Chorley (Tranmere CH) to come to Roots Hall. Steve even spoke to the player on a couple of occasions after terms were agreed but it turns out that he had apparently already agreed terms with Leyton Orient.

It is for these reasons, where negotiations are conducted in a fog rather than with transparency, that makes the world of football agents high on the list of unpleasantries in the industry. As I said a little earlier it is not necessarily the individuals on a one to one basis simply the conflict of interests that concerns me as in most other professional worlds that sort of activity is taboo. I am certainly not being naïve.

However the one or two fans who actually are not really supporters at all, coupled with the meddling of football agents, in no way overshadows the brilliant passion that we have achieved on so many, many occasions in recent years and which it is my ambition to maintain.

However sometimes a little patience is called for so that we do not destabilise the growth path that your Club is on.

Forgive my ramblings if that is what it sounds like but I am dictating this from a distance as I am not in the office today but did not wish the day to end without fulfilling my promise of letting you have my thoughts on this subject.

Finally, as you know the players are back this week and I know that Steve and the Management are focused on fulfilling those current gaps in his squad.

Have a good weekend and up the Blues!

Ron Martin
Southend United Football Club