Not sure where to post this or whether it’s even worth starting a new thread, so if anyone wants to move it feel free.
Since yesterday I’ve been thinking a lot about Walsall FC, my relationship with it, and generally about how things have changed in the 24 years I’ve supported them, which compared to some on here is nothing, and just how rapidly we are declining.
I first started following in 1998/99 which of course was an amazing season beyond everyone’s wildest imagination, we got promoted, finished above some teams that are massive in comparison to us, and just behind the money-bags team of that division in Fulham.
Since I’ve followed them, there’s been ups, downs and in-betweens, and I’ve been used to having a chairman that doesn’t communicate with the fans on any level, no matter what. I’ve seen promotions, relegations, I’ve seen us play at Wembley (although we didn’t play much), and I’m one of the lucky people to have seen us lift an actual league title, one of only two we’ve ever won.
In terms of winning, it’s always been clear to me that we are small-fry in the grand scheme of things and it’s never been the case that I expect us to win every game, but growing up through the years I’ve been used to having a team out on the pitch that respected each other and played for each other and to make the fans proud. If we lost, it wasn’t usually without working our bollocks off.
Matchdays were always something I looked forward to, no matter what division we were in, or however easy or hard the opponent supposedly was. I was proud to be a Walsall Football Club supporter and looked forward to visiting the ground. In the younger years, food and drink was decent and always available from the kiosks, and there was much more going on for fans, whether it was junior teams having a game on the pitch before the main event, or even half time entertainment of some sort.
Bar a couple of poor seasons, we had been pretty consistent on the pitch, and off the pitch things were pretty much similar, Bonser would generally always make sure we were never in too much trouble and provide assistance when needed to drag us out of trouble or to aid promotion (most of the time anyway).
The age old elephant in the room has always been the rent of the ground, where we end up paying JB £400-£500k per annum to play at our ‘home’ stadium.
2015/16 - we nearly made it back to The Championship, we were all proud of the team and the management. Since then things have gone backwards massively.
Poor managerial appointments
Poor player recruitment
Poor supporter interaction from the club
Stadium repairs / looking dated
Food and Drink - many occasions ran out in the kiosks or over/under cooked
Poor performance in the leagues we’ve been in.
General match-day experience
Of course, 19/20 saw something nobody ever thought would happen, Jeff Bonser handed over the Chairmanship of the club to Leigh Pomlett.
Leigh Pomlett started to engage with fans, speaking to us, it was amazing, the chairman of our club telling us his plans and what he was going to do for us. These now-labelled PomCasts are seemingly becoming more and more defensive as fans start to criticise the way the team are performing, and perhaps more importantly the way the board are operating.
I remember once at one of the WPM I attended (back when i was allowed) LP effectively said that he would just stop communicating if the abuse / criticism carried on, which reminded me of the JB days. Maybe they’re not too dissimilar. (For anyone reading from the club let me be clear, that isn’t word for word what LP said, but words to that effect).
Fast forwarding to today and we find ourselves struggling in League Two for the second consecutive season, this season even more perilous than the last, yet the board, at least certain members, have gone back into batte mode, ‘Us vs Them’, and are seemingly burying their heads in the sand at what is actually happening.
The earlier points I raised about what I loved about matchday, they are all gone. The atmosphere is dead. From the run out songs, through to the food, through to the half time entertainment, through to fan engagement, it’s all terrible.
On a smaller level, the performance on the pitch isn’t helping. Of course this is down to, in the main, the manager and his coaching staff and the players out on the pitch. If they aren’t performing, then the fans will let them know, and that’s happening now. It doesn’t help when the players or manager come out with some crap in the press such as ‘We aren’t in a relegation battle’ or ‘We need to keep together’. A bit of honesty about the situation might actually buy a bit of favour for them. Instead they come out with bullshit and it makes it even worse to the fans.
If we change manager, it might work In the short term and appease some fans, but for those that think that is THE answer, it isn’t. It’s a small part of a much larger problem. That problem being our board, including JB too.
All bar two of those (GW and JF) are part of the Bonser era, the ‘Bonser Babes’ if you wish. They have all been presiding over the club and it’s deterioration over recent times, and they are all to blame for the way this club is heading. Over recent weeks it’s clear that the boardroom isn’t going to be shaken up. I mean how lucky we are because one of them stuck some dots onto seats, or because one of their Mrs’ helps out on a match day. That’s gonna drive us forward………
GW has been appointed as the SLO and given a directorship, but he is just another blockade in the way of reaching the actual problem. Added to that, he’s pals with some of them already. Another body to the Old Boys Club. He doesn’t represent the fans in any way, shape or form, and doesn’t possess the skills to be able to do the job effectively as it should be.
What we need is a big board room shake up (I know, it’s not gonna happen), where we employ people with demonstrable success in previous roles, and those that have the necessary skills and attributes to drive a business forward.
As an example, Dan Mole was the media guy at the club, and is the Club Secretary, whilst also being listed as the clubs Chief Operating Officer. How does he have the relevant experience, or how does he show demonstrable success in any other role, to be able to do that job at a professional football club?
Personally, I am falling out of love with the club, and it hurts. I am no longer proud to support Walsall Football Club, even though I’ll never stop. I am very quickly losing the will to attend any games at home (even with a paid up ST this season), and I can’t see any way this club is anything but finished as an English Football League club, if not this season, then within the next one or two after it.
It’s a sad state of affairs. I know I won’t be the only one that feels this way, and I’m sure that there’s plenty I’ve missed off that others might add, but nobody with any ‘relevance’ at the club gives a monkeys, it’s obvious and it stinks. All they care about is their little cushty boardroom club and that they can ensure we come out with a small profit every year so they can have their arses kissed by those with no real knowledge of what’s really happening, whilst still paying our precious Chairman a shit-ton of money per year.
I cannot justify spending money helping this shithousery continue, so once my ST expires it won’t be renewed and if I do watch us, it will be away.
WALSALL FC - a once proud English Football League team, slowly (and ever-increasingly) dying out of it with little more than a whimper.