Monday, June 09, 2014

Our Greatest Glory?

Gomez The Mexican Cat, the replacement for the recently departed Chloecat has thoughts on the Bulls' current situation:

It would be fair to say 2014 hasn’t been the best of years for me so when on 26th April in the 86th minute our magnificent players pulled our club away from the jaws of Conference North, I finally had something to smile about.  In fact I was grinning like a Cheshire cat (no pun intended), so happy, so relieved.  A friend texted me saying “something has finally gone right for you this year” and I naively thought it was only a matter of days before all the problems and hassles of the season would drain away – we had maintained our status, the players would be paid, the debts cleared, we had a viable club to invest in, all would be good in the world of Hereford United.

As I write this, over six weeks later, we have three days to pay those debts , still outstanding, and satisfy the Conference we are a viable enterprise.  As our rivals continue to build squads for next season, we are yet to pay the players we had in April.  There has been precious little that has been glorious about Hereford United over the last year or so.

I guess it all started last June – that cut price season ticket I snapped up with glee, feeling confident that we were in for a good season.  I know several people who bought season tickets, knowing full well that they were unlikely to see many, if any games at Edgar Street, it was their way of supporting their club – I wonder how many people will do the same this summer.  Yes, I want to follow a successful football team, but also a well-run club, that deals ethically with its players and suppliers, one that pays its debts, looks after its own.  Even David Keyte must admit the last 12 months haven’t been his greatest as an employer - players and staff unpaid, a former manager having to resort to take us to court to get his wages – hardly an encouragement for the next crop of potential Bulls to sign up, to say nothing of the tax man.  

A word for the players we had last year – I can’t speak too highly of them.  To pull us away from the abyss while they hadn’t been paid was fantastic.  Let’s not kid ourselves that they did it solely for Hereford United – personal pride, looking to their future prospects as players who against all odds had steered their club away from relegation and the ingrained desire to win as a professional sportsman got them through.  I’d like to think they had some regard for us fans and a lot of affection for Peter Beadle and his backroom staff, but not much else.  We had a great crop of young players last year but what will happen to them now? Will we even get any transfer money if they move on having failed to pay them and therefore I assume broken their contracts?  Let’s face it, would any of them have even considered staying with an employer that didn’t pay them on time, especially as they are still waiting for their money?  The Twitter feeds have expressed how angry, disappointed and sad they are to have been treated so shabbily, yet they were all part of one of our most amazing hours on the pitch.  They have been a credit to their profession.

I feel for Chester fans who have seen Hereford and Salisbury, their nemesis last year being given chance after chance while their club wasn’t.  We owe the Conference a huge amount of gratitude for the way they have given us an opportunity to sort ourselves out.  I guess the fact that 3 clubs have had to prove viability has helped.  The fact that our new owner has a criminal record didn’t exactly cheer me up, but we all make mistakes, he’s paid for his and moved on and after the number of chances Hereford have been given this year and the way the club has been run recently, we are hardly on the moral high ground ourselves.  I am yet to be convinced he is the answer to our problems, but he seems to be all we’ve got at present.  

I am trusting that by Thursday we well have paid our debts and can finally look forward to next season, but even if we manage to do that I’m not overly confident about our future.  £1.3 million in debt is a lot of money, and the way the club has been run in recent years does not inspire confidence that we will get out of this mess any time soon.  I want a club that is entertaining on the pitch, but well run off it as well, one I can feel proud of.  I haven’t decided whether I’ll buy a season ticket for next year, as a London based Bull the travelling costs a fortune and I want to invest in something I believe in.  We maintained our glory on the pitch last season; we’ve a long way to go to regain it off it.