Walsall ‘Til I Don’t

Exile @ 8:51 pm Thursday 23 December 2010

A new publication was this week being sent to people at the heart of the club – its managers and board of directors, and select media contacts.

Walsall ‘Til I Don’t is the result of an idea that evolved on the UTS messageboards only a few weeks ago, but with the swift actions of many interested fans and the hard work of our editing team, the physical edition hit the desks of the rich and famous only five weeks after the first discussion.

Containing the heartfelt thoughts of many fans, some who stayaway, others who are considering , and yet more who still go to matches, the underlying message is that all these fans, some with histories of decades with the club, no longer feel the same way. Alienation is a terrible thing, and every fan in Walsall ‘Til I Don’t wanted to make that statement in a way that ought to make the club sit up and take notice, if not action.

Interested fans can read or download the book online here on UptheSaddlers (PDF file)

This is not the sort of Christmas book that Jeff Bonser will relish reading. Thanks to all fans who shared their story, and to UTS regulars Whitti Steve, Pedagogue and King Crimson for their time editing, collating, printing and distribution.

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Shuffleboard: Walsall Gamble on Stefan, Leigh

Exile @ 9:30 pm Sunday 11 July 2010

Stefan Gamble, previously financial director, has ben named as Roy Whalley’s replacement as Walsall’s Chief Executive going forward. Roy himself will take a backseat role and concentrate on his duties as commercial director, generating off-field income. As Roy’s angling for a quiet departure, this little reshuffle should come as no surprise to Saddlers regulars. Stefan’s a beanie by trade and his financial acumen will hopefully suit the club in maximising it’s position based on income available from all sources.

One welcome surprise (to most) was the appointment of life-long Saddler Leigh Pomlett to the board. Leigh’s been a fan for 40 years, and his work experience in transport, freight and logistics should have given him a few well-connected contacts throughout Europe. UTS understands he’s been a F2G-based supporter so he’s familiar with some of the more (ahem) rough and tumble fans and their views on the running of the club.

These appointments mark a sea change in Walsall’s management. Last time a director was appointed the announcement was kept under wraps but this time the club’s been upfront, and even better, the director is a Walsall fan with no ties to Leeds-based development consortiums.

One thing that the three have in common is an appreciation of how important fans are to a football club:

Roy Whalley on attendance:
“How far this club goes depends on how many supporters come,”

Stefan Gamble on attendance:
“It’s top of the list. We have to engage our supporter base and that is one of the things we will address from the outset. If we can get them back it doesn’t guarantee us a better season, but it certainly helps.

Leigh Pomlett:
“I’ve been a Walsall supporter for over 40 years.”

Perhaps one of the first things these three could agree on in the brave new world of Walsall FC would be that silencing fans who are critical of some aspects of the club might not be in everyone’s best interests. While one has had his ban rescinded, it would be nice of others were to be treated the same way, having been summarily excluded for the same “crime”. Neil can attend matches next season, now it would be nice if it were confirmed that Darren and Wayne were accorded the same treatment. Fresh season, fresh start, please, Walsall. Let’s have some perspective.

Walsall 2 Tranmere 1

roger6 @ 11:48 pm Saturday 10 April 2010

Victory today at Bescot and full credit to the manager and the lads as the three points look to have secured another season in League One.

Football - Walsall v Tranmere Rovers Coca

Events off the pitch though have dominated this week as the club have sought to clamp down on any sort of protest or expressions of views that are odds with the owners of Walsall FC.

For those unaware, long-standing UpTheSaddlers contributor Neil Ravenscroft has been banned from the Bescot and today Bangor Cymru Saddler’s reward for a 4-hour train journey to see the Saddlers was to be informed he wasn’t permitted to walk through the turnstiles.

Such actions, sanctioned and commissioned by Jeff Bonser, and carried out on the orders of minion Roy Whalley, shame football, and are another fruitless attempt by people totally at odds with 21st century communications who seek to silence any legitimate voice of protest.

Give your view on the game via the message board – but be warned – Roy Whalley chief executive of Walsall FC will be reading your comments – and if they are at odds with his paymaster Jeff Bonser – you may well find yourself the recipient of a letter banning you from Bescot for simply daring to express your own opinion. Because in 2010 Roy Whalley believes – even if 10,000 wear green and gold at Old Trafford, he has the power to silence any critics of the Bescot regime via CCTV and a stiffly worded letter typed on his word processor.

POSTSCRIPT: If you haven’t read it, Mark Jones over at the Express and Star has answered Whalley in the most comprehensive way you could imagine. Read it here

The Customer Is Not Always Right

Exile @ 8:30 pm Thursday 08 April 2010

The title of this piece is a rehash of an old maxim. I’ve always thought it wrong – Successful businesses know that the customer is NOT always right, contrary to popular belief.

Take Walsall FC for example. With over 3000 regular, repeat customers, just over half whom have already signed up to be repeat customers for another 12 months, there’ll be 3,000 opinions. The customer can’t always be right. Bonser in or out? Bonser saved the club or killed the club? Each fan has a different take on this, so they’re not right.

So, if you know your customer is not always right, what’s to be done?

You don’t alienate your most passionate, loyal and long-suffering regulars by suddenly announcing in the local press that if they complain they’ll be ejected from the premises. It’s a natural reaction to try to marginalise any dissenting opinion but crushing protest with threats of banning is not a way forward if you want to succeed.

A business should be asking itself how this protest came about, why it evolved into what it did, what might be done to make it go away and whether it might be constructively good for business if harnessed effectively. Yes, many of the customers might not be protesting vocally, but there’s many whose silent protest bears witness every match in the form of empty seats.

Customers that speak up and show discontent, while still turning up to consume the product, thereby providing revenue, are surely more valuable than those who have already walked away? Silencing them is forcing them down the same path. Result: Less customers. Less revenue.

The customer is not always right, but the customer should always, ALWAYS, be listened to.

Walsall 0-1 Yeovil

Exile @ 10:42 pm Tuesday 23 February 2010

A performance barely worthy of the name ‘football’ saw Walsall slump to a dismal 0-1 defeat at home to previously lowly Yeovil. The game never got going for the Saddlers, or the pitiful 2,929 hardy souls who turned out tonight.

The club official website’s headline “Snow joke as Saddlers slip” was an amusing diversion for a moment, until one realises the importance of this atrocious result. While the season was never going anywhere even before the match, it appears that the players and management have no concept of playing for pride, no concept of entertainment, no concept of tactics and no concept of winning a game at home.

This clueless approach leads one to wonder at the victories we have achieved in this campaign – have we actually put any tactical plan into action, or are these just the result of blind chance in the league of averageness?

One certain fact: Crowds of under 3,000 will become the norm down Bescot Crescent if things do not change. That prospect should fill the fans, the club and the owner with dread.

wednesburysaddler summed up the game with this masterful post on the match thread:

gutless spineless rubbish crud waste of time bunch of puddings with the worst tactician of a manager ive ever seen

My “Proud To Be A Saddler” coffee mug will remain at the back of the cupboard until such time as I feel I agree with the sentiment it expresses. I’m ashamed.

Stourbridge FA Cup Ticketing Arrangements

Exile @ 8:01 pm Thursday 29 October 2009

Walsall have been allocated 490 (yes, 490!) tickets for their FA Cup first round match away against plucky Stourbridge on Saturday 7 November. Refreshingly, Stourbridge haven’t cashed in on their opposition’s lofty status and the tickets cost only 12 quid (or 8 for concessions)

This unusually high allocation should take the pressure off the gate considering we take much less than that to most away games at the moment, but this being the “magical” FA Cup, there’ll be some pressure on fans to get in early to book their ticket or miss out.

Season Ticket holders get first dibs, but to honour these faithful supporters the club has decided, in it’s infinite wisdom, to put tickets on sale at 10.00am this Saturday, October 31, when many of these regular followers will already be on the road, travelling to support the Super Saddlers away at glamorous Wycombe. The ticket office closes at 2.00pm on Saturday, reopening Monday morning, which rather scotches the club’s excuse that the tickets had to go on sale Saturday as many fans can’t wait till Monday as they have to be at work. How about those Season Ticket holders that work, AND are loyal enough to be going to follow the fortunes of the club away on Saturday?

If you’re a Season Ticket holder AND going to Wycombe, get a mate or family member to go down to the ground with your season ticket book Saturday morning for the best chance of gettting a ticket.

Perhaps a fairer solution would have been to start selling tickets from the town shop on Sunday. Still, when has customer cervice ever been a strong point of the club, especially when you know you’ll sell out anyway?

Casual fans (as in no season ticket, not young idiots with ASBOs) get an opportunity, if there’s any left, at 9.00am on Thursday 5 November.

The No News Round-Up 4

Exile @ 10:59 am Thursday 04 June 2009

Another look at the global hysteria surrounding the Saddlers in the off season.

Stafflers goes global
The BBC website has posted a whole host of it’s favourite football quotes for the past season, and pitchside announcer Stafflers’ talent has definitely been noted, as he appears twice in the list, more than any other club’s mic man. Well done! Link: talent to the world

Sun Tan Man Special?
We’re being linked with an un-named Ghanaian player, currently plying his trade in France. The interweb has a handy page for this sort of thing, so here is the link: isn’t technology wonderful? .

Hopefully the player will be decent, cheap and happy to come to Walsall. As English is the national language of Ghana he’s bound to have problems fitting in, so we’ll have to make allowances for that as well as the Winter weather.

New Saddlers Executives
Congratulations to two members of the Saddlers staff who’ve been kicked upstairs. Communications Manager Daniel Mole (not 13 3/4) has been made Assistant Club Secretary, while Andrew Poole, who’s been the website/programme editor, is the new Communications Manager.

Andrew’s role is made easier as there’s certainly less fans to communicate with, whilst Daniel’s appointment should free up some time for the current club secretary, one KR Whalley (not the author of Fly Fishing), to concentrate on his other jobs of Commercial Director and Chief Executive.

We’ll bring you news of the appointment of a Marketing Manager just as soon as we hear anything.

There may be trouble ahead…
But while there’s Whalley, and Bonser, and players from France, let’s watch the Saddler and dance…

One trusts that there was no money in the budget for a pay rise for either of the aforementioned young men at the club, after Whalley has apparently warned of lean times ahead.

Of course, the lean times referred to were spun by one of our local papers, when what Roy actually said was that the club is well placed compared to many others. Well done to the Excrete and Stir for slapping Walsall FC again. Dingle lovers.

That’s all for now.

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