A SHORT story of shame this week entitled "From the sublime to the ridiculous, played out in 24 hours!"
I had hoped, in this week’s column, to be praising the current chairman and board of directors.
I had hoped to be sharing a couple of pints with my good friend, Rob Heys, our Chief Executive and long-term fan.
I had hoped to be toasting the success of the FAN-tastic SOS appeal and our survival in the short term, revelling in the pride that I had helped my club to survive.
Well, fellow Accringtonians, things on Monday, went very very quiet; scarily quiet. And on Tuesday, at 4pm, the whole sorry shambles went from the sublime to the ridiculous.
The club released the most appalling of statements to its proud supporters.
They were going to court to ask for a further adjournement of the winding up petition. Putting that into layman’s terms, our club were going to London to beg..... again. What? Surely not?
But yes; despite turning away a millionaire’s money, Accrington Stanley 1968 Ltd were off with their tails between their legs to beg for another chance.
They were going to line up with all the other struggling businesses and sole traders in trouble. Fred Bloggs’ Car Lot, Dave Smith’s Painters & Decorators and Accrington Stanley.... You couldn’t make it up. Not in your worst ASFC related nightmare....
And I quote:
"Leave the sleepless nights to me...."
"I can assure you I will not let Accrington Stanley fold again."
"I never want to experience that court hearing again."
Just some of the quotes from Mr David O’Neill. A man hopelessly out of his depth both morally and financially. He has handled everything badly from start to finish, especially the shameless way he bad mouthed Mr Ilyas Khan.
A man that, as events at the High Court in London unfolded, would ensure the survival of our club.
In hindsight, our chairman has used the optimistic fans as his preachers; to whisper in the ear of the non-believers and convert fans to his camp. And, frustratingly, I was still doing it on the Rochdale walk. Many had seen the light much, much earlier.
The ASSF knew many of the shady happenings behind the scenes.
One of my good friends, and someone from the Barbados ‘95 lot, had warned me from the start that the SOS campaign was all wrong.
He hated the fact that ASFC were begging for loose change when we had a millionaire who cared with his cheque book at the ready. Boy do I wish I had listened to you, pal!
When I wrote my last rant on this subject I never ever thought we could sink so low. Shambles is a tame word, probably only swear words work to explain feelings of absolute and utter devastation. And that was just when we thought we were a little short of the £308,000.
Well, Tuesday night saw around 50 Accrington Stanley fans attend at the club for a candlelight protest. Or wake. The mood was sombre and calm despite a police presence.
"Eight weeks of lies" was the banner, although members of the ASSF said it was more like eight months.
Another two quotes: "We are nearly there" and "we are nine out of ten from hitting the target."
This was from the chairman on Sunday. I have to laugh it’s so ridiculous now we know what went on in London.
For anyone who doesn’t know, David O’Neill and Rob Heys emptied the piggy bank on Tuesday night and counted up all the money available to the club.
Unfortunately it was only £96,000. Panto style, "Oh NO It isn’t..." And you’d be correct, the SOS appeal thermometer was on £117,000 wasn’t it? Wasn’t it? WASN’T IT???????
SO we had had the sublime - our plan to beg again at the courts - and now we have the ridiculous. We had less cash than had been raised by the SOS appeal! You couldnt make it up!
Their BIG PLAN was to plead and beg for ANOTHER chance.... Ridiculous.
All this happened at the end of a sterling week of hard work by the players and the fans.
On Saturday, 70 fans walked to Rochdale in the pouring rain.
The walk was sponsored to raise money for the SOS appeal and, despite the weather, there were many proud faces at the end.
At Spotland, once again the players did the business. The fans were magnificent in their support and we grabbed the three points with some style.
Michael Symes was in the form of his life and Procter ran the show in the centre of midfield. The winning goal was a thing of beauty and it was a bonus that Kenny Athur was the keeper grasping at thin air.
What a day! Spirits were high, the tax bill was gonna be paid on Monday and the future looked very bright.
Sunday brought with it another fundraising event at the Crown. Just over £2,500 was raised with a Stanley Legends side taking on the Stanley Ultras supporters team. It was great to see and speak to players such as Lutel James, Russ Payne, Jay Flannery and Rommy Boco. Even better seeing them play in red for one more time. The Ultras started brightly but Jamo (Jamie Speare) was in good form. Danny Wilkinson in the Ultras net was equally as good with some great saves at the other end.
Class told in the end, although it did take John Coleman a good 80 minutes of missed chances to grab a goal - much to the amusement of the fans. The Sports Bar afterwards was packed and then the Crown into the late evening.
It had been one of the best weekends for me as a Stanley supporter. How quickly we were brought down to earth with a huge bump.
And so what does the future hold? Well, Wednesday saw Ilyas Khan and Peter Marsden effectively save the club. They spoke in court to the judge who was ready to wield the axe.
No actual cash had reached HMRC by Tuesday night and the judge was looking to shut the doors. Fans huddled around radios and their phones waiting for news. Hopefully good news. Cue Ilyas and Peter with a guarantee to pay the debt should the club not come good! The Messiahs as they will now be known.
We should be very grateful. Very, very grateful.
The club have let every one down. The little girl and her piggy bank. The fans who walked to Rochdale. The sponsored swimmers, the bucket collectors and the fans who came from far and wide to join our cause. I was ashamed of our club on Wednesday and only a change at the top will rid us of this shame.
I find it incredulous that we ignored Ilyas Khan and were told all along we would be safe. Our chairman must now, to save himself if at all possible, allow Ilyas and Peter and the ASSF to see the full picture with regards to our debts. It is the only way.
It’s either Ilyas Khan’s way .... or the highway Mr O’Neill..... Your choice.
STRICTLY COME STANLEY
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