Welcome to this my inaugural ‘From the Chair’ letter to all Exiles as we sit looking comfortable in the league at the halfway point and with many positives occurring both on and off the pitch.
Looking back at the last ‘From the Chair’ letter we were League 2 bound despite a brave final day effort at Carlisle in May 2008. The usual ownership issues & points deductions were rearing their ugly head once more and we had the unseen misery of Jimmy Quinn’s short tenure to come.
From adversity however the club & players flourished following a miserable Christmas 2008 and resurgence in fortunes with the rise of King Eddie Howe, our saviour. Fast forward 2 years and after promotion to League 1 in his first full season in charge, followed by us leading the triumvirate of south coast clubs at the top of League 1 our world seemingly collapsed as the ever loyal Eddie took leave of us in a rather depressing “will he won’t he” episode played out in the full glare of the media spotlight.
At this point I thought a play-off spot was a certainty, however despite a run of unbeaten games, too many draws meant we coughed and spluttered over the line with Bradders & Fletch’s guidance. Still a superb effort at the Galpharm raised my hopes all too briefly, of a Wembley trip only to be dashed by the dreaded penalty shoot out.
The close season saw the long expected wholesale dismantling of the squad that Eddie built. Whatever our views of that period I do not think we can begrudge those players who left given the service they had given us and the feeling that they and probably the club had reached the extent of its aspirations. What concerned me most was the apparent limited action taken to attract new players who were of a good enough quality to build on last seasons efforts.
And so it proved as it was hardly a stellar start to the season. Following a number of under whelming performances we had to endure our lowest moment for many seasons, the ‘Eddie Mitchell rant’ - an ill-advised excursion by our chairman onto the pitch and by all accounts to the dressing room after, coupled with other rumours of backroom strife. However this appears to have been the catalyst for turning around the season so far.
In terms of where the club sits off the field then whatever your view is of our chairman, he has certainly put us on a firmer financial footing apparently; tidied up the immediate surrounding area of the ground and for the first time in seasons we have an electronic scoreboard that works, or was on my last visit back in early December; new plans for Kings Park have been approved; and hopefully a 4th stand is not too long in the making. For once in our lives we are able to look forward positively without the seeming sceptre of mismanagement or administration haunting us.
It remains to be seen who else we bring in during the January window but hopefully it is someone of good enough quality that adds value to the current squad, albeit I do not believe that it should be one of our short lived strikers who departed too swiftly for my liking after only a handful of games.
My final point is a plea to the club and the Echo to resolve their spat and let us enjoy a full and even balanced reporting of the club. I believe the Echo was right to publish its concerns in the open letter and that the club for its part should accept that some criticism is acceptable in this day and age.
Anyhow, as always it is Up the Cherries & I hope to see you at a game soon either at Dean Court or at a hostelry on our travels.
UP THE CHERRIES!
Nick Wallinger, Isle Of Man