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HELLO ALBERT, HELLO SPION KOP!
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HELLO ALBERT • ISSUE 28

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Editorial
Fans or Supporters?
Goran Who?
A View From The West Stand
Culture Clash


A VIEW FROM THE WEST STAND

Colin has set me quite a task this time and that is to comment on a season that will be decided over the last game to be played. I am writing before the Peterborough game on 6th May which will decide our fate. At least our fate is in our own hands – a win and we’re safe. But the way this roller coaster of a season has gone, I feel there are a few twists and turns left in it yet. The Posh game will be full of nervous tension, bitten fingernails and radios clasped to ear holes.

But how on earth have we reached this position in a season before which we were told that we would be in the First Division in three years? Well, I think that statement and Mr Smith’s takeover of the club have been well chronicled before on these pages. I think I said in the last edition of Hello Albert that it was a mistake to let Kevin Ratcliffe leave the club when he did – and without an adequate replacement. I still do and how ironic that he could decide the future of his former club both in terms of its League position and, financially, in the sense of his legal action against us. Questions have to be asked of the previous administration as to how the former manager was given a contract which enabled him to leave the club when he wanted to with (as reported) a £200,000 pay off? Leave the club he did and that’s history now. But even after that, mistakes were made.

Terry Smith, with absolutely no experience in football, decided to take over the managing of a Third Division League Club. He determined he could do it – although it was patently obvious to everyone else that he couldn’t (Though no doubt he has had some success with the financial side). He persevered with the job whilst the team remained firmly at the bottom of the League. Even the introduction of international stars (Who patently weren’t up to it) could not save the club from their doom. At this stage they were near certainties for relegation to the Conference at the end of the season.

Pressure from the media and supporters forced him to concede that he needed a proper manager. This he did, albeit a month too late. Our fate at the end of the season may show the significance of that lost month over Christmas.

Without doubt Terry Smith’s decision to appoint Ian Atkins as “Director of Football” (If we survive) is the best one he’s made in his time at the club. When he was appointed most supporters were saying, “Ian who?” But Atkins with his no nonsense approach has transformed a side that was in free-fall out of the League into a side that has begun to show promotion form. Looking at the worst possible scenario – if we do go out of the League – Ian Atkins would be the one person I would bet on to get us back in again. His success in creating a winning side out of nothing in three months won’t have gone unnoticed elsewhere, however, and one wouldn’t blame him for wanting to enjoy League football at another club. If we survive – his services must be retained – at all costs – as he can bring this club success without a doubt.

Atkins has brought some great battlers to the club. What a great acquisition Stuart Hicks seems to be for example. Hicks is a true winner and has built up a great rapport with the supporters already. Whilst mentioning the supporters – how good it is to see the Deva filled on a regular basis. I’m sure that if we can retain our League position, these supporters will keep coming back.

On a personal level I was delighted to see Ian Atkins keeping Neil Fisher in the team – his performances have proved that there is always room for a good footballer in the side.

If we are to survive in the Football League, Ian Atkins must be given total control of the playing side of the club as manager and Terry Smith take up his proper role in the boardroom. His cavorting around the pitch before the game along with some of his programme notes are embarrassing. I don’t doubt his sincerity but Terry Smith must realise that there is a world of difference between running an American Football team and an English Football League club – never the twain shall meet.

So there we are. If you are reading this after the Peterborough game – lucky you! I’ve got another ten days of fractured nerves and a rumbling stomach till then.

Good luck to everyone at Chester City and, whatever happens, see you at the Deva in August!

Chris Courtney-Williams


ISSUE 28 Editorial
Fans or Supporters?
Goran Who?
A View From The West Stand
Culture Clash
 
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