annual programme awards for last season did not contain
many surprises, writes Phil Brough, except the low
placing for the Liverpool innovation, but I would
like to nominate one particular issue for the worst
example of content.
The prize goes to the Chester v Rushden
programme from 5th May. I have never come across a
publication that contains such blatant self-publicity.
Chairman, owner and saviour Terry Smith, I regret,
does himself no favours, he only ignited the opinions
of the troubled Club's fans. His attempts to use guilt,
aggression and blame to justify' his actions are not
those of a man who inspires confidence and the Club
programme is surely not the place for such inane rantings.
In detail, pages 2 and 3 report that
the Club made a trading profit, thanks, of course,
to Mr Smith, whose name appears 10 times. Page 3 continues
with the dispute with former manager Kevin Ratcliffe
and Smith uses his name a further four times. Page
4 is advertising, page 5 is Graham Barrow's view and
a piece written by the consortium that, allegedly,
wanted to buy the Club but has pulled out, after witnessing
abuse levelled at Terry Smith.
Again Smith is glorified in text,
his name appearing no less than 10 times in 19 lines.
Was this really written by Cap Management Associated
2 The style and configuration of words and phrases
is precisely the same as Smith's other contributions.
Page 6 advert, page 7 visitors, but
pages 8 and 9 are used by the Chairman to blame the
press for the Club's problems and the way the supporters
react and think. Sadly, the entire article is self-pitying
to a marked degree, even claiming that his financial
burden meant that his children were short of food.
These were the farewell notes, designed
to inspire sympathy at his parting but they tend to
show, instead, a total misunderstanding of the football
supporter. Blaming the press is the last act of a desperate
man the way to correct any manipulation is surely
to talk to the supporters.
The next eleven pages contain photographs,
adverts, Conference statistics, and notes on Rushden
but, astonishingly, considering his sensitivity, page
21 has a full-page photograph of none other than Terry
Smith in an American football strip. Seven pages of
advertising follow, then three of stats and club notes.
The front cover is dated April 26.
The programme is teeming with threats,
accusations and counter-accusations, apologies and
arrogant one-sided outbursts. The accused and vilified
are not given space and the official Club organ becomes
nothing more than Smith's press release.
Programme Monthly, September