JUST IN: Green Light with FGR fan John Light
THIS article is written in a mood of frustration and disappointment.
I love coming to the New Lawn and following Forest Green - so many things are right, but the focus of the club, the football, is becoming a real problem. We ended last season poorly and despite extra cash being added to the football budget we are below half way in the league and 13 points behind the leaders.
Most of us believed the hope (or is it hype?) that preceded the start of this season. Thinking that the faults of last season would be eradicated we had good reason for optimism. Three expensive new forwards had been signed. Surely the goals would roll in and with them promotion points.
This has not happened. The inconsistency of an experienced, talented team is making us seem also-rans. Most disturbingly of all we are so easily hustled and harassed out of games. Mark tightly – tackle quickly, deny them space – that is the game plan that every team is adopted against us. It has been so demonstrably successful it will not change. Lesser teams with more limited skills are and will beat us.
We do not have the mentality to withstand and overcome such tactics. Thinking about the teams that have been promoted from this league the first word I would use about them is mean. We are far from that.
What I am writing now is not an anonymous electronic comment. Those are worthless. Anyone with a genuine view should have the courage to put their name to it. It may not be easy and what I am writing I am finding very difficult, but this column is meaningless if just public relations. So here goes.
I have great personal and professional respect for manager Dave Hockaday. He has so much in his career as a player, and subsequently, to be proud of. I am going to use one of those words again – proud. I am proud to call him a friend. We have disagreed in the past and will surely do so again but our disagreements are based on a genuine love for this club – no harm in that. I am not sure he likes by broad-casting mind!
Whatever my personal view I must ask, and answer the question is he the right man for the job? As Chairman of the County Cricket Club I had to ask such a question in January 2008. To take the right action I listened, consulted, then acted. It was not easy, but it was necessary. I urge Dale to listen, to consult, but only then make a decision. We must hope he gets it right.
My teaching career ended with headships, but looking back my best work was done as a deputy head. I was happy and successful – I could do the job. Being a ‘head’ was more difficult and challenging. I am not sure I was at my best. I see a similar situation with Dave Hockaday. My answer therefore would be to restructure the football side at FGR, still retaining Dave’s talents, but putting someone in charge of the first team who brings a different approach.
I hope no more three year contracts would be offered and that from our plethora of players the new man would decide on his best team and play them regularly, being firm on professional and personal discipline. However good you are, you need to understand and be familiar with what your colleagues can do. As far as strikers are concerned Keegan and Toshack or more locally ‘Smash and Grab’ at Bristol Rovers are good examples, not forgetting Beesley and Fleetwood. We need a team that is as good as or better than the sum of its parts and despite 13 games having been played we are far from that. I know it is only October but look at the league table. It does not lie.
What about us as spectators? We have a role to play and voting with our feet is not the way forward. More than ever the players need a vocal twelfth man. That should be us. That is what true supporters do. Walking away and sniping from afar helps no one.
What happens next however is up to Chairman Dale, and we must respect his decision. It still is October and we are just five points off a play-off place and we have seen some signs (but not enough) of what our team can do. Whatever happens more of those please. See you Saturday.