ROVERS have had a torrid time before. The 1970s were terrible.
But the end of the 1990s wasn’t pretty, either.
By this time in the 1998-99 season we had 9 points from 14 games.
Here we are again, with just 7 points after 12 games.
There is, however, one important difference – in the atmosphere among the fans. In the late nineties, Jack Walker was revered; John Williams held in the highest regard. When Jack tragically died in 2000, Mr Williams held the club together. Since 2001 we have enjoyed the longest-ever post-war period in the top-flight.
In contrast, today it’s the owners getting it in the neck. They appear distant and, frankly, unwilling, or unable, to understand that running a successful team is, yes, about money, but it’s also about intangibles, like spirit and sentiment. It’s that which is frustrating so many fans, including loyal sponsors like Wayne Wild, Group Director of WEC Group in Darwen.
The owners have gratuitously hollowed out what was one of the best club administrations in the League. What was the point of that?
The irony is that this appears to be a better team than the one which dropped in 1999. The football is better, they gel together better; and (as is often observed by the experts), they deserve better results. It is genuinely the case that luck has not been on our side.
The owners need to appreciate that Rovers’ fans are not daft. They want the team to win. Around me, that plane with its banner was not appreciated by the fans who simply wish to get behind the team playing well in the difficult fixture against Chelsea. Fans can make a big difference to the result on the field. John Williams recognised that when he cut ticket prices to get more fans in.
My strong advice to the owners – in their interests as well as ours – is to start talking to the fans, understand them, get them on side. It will cost no money – and will reap dividends.