Read the Chairman's Notes from the Torquay United programmeGood afternoon Ladies and Gents, Girls and Boys, and welcome back to Priestfield for the penultimate home game of our current season, a season which has been exciting, interesting, challenging and fascinating in many respects, and one which now has all the possibilities of being very successful from a footballing point of view, (bar a monumental succession of ultra-extraordinary circumstances). Albeit we all still have a massive job to do over the next four games, and in particular today against our friends from Torquay, who indeed have their own agenda, unfortunately for them a battle to stay in the Football League.
All supporters will accept there is no sentiment in football, and Torquay fans will not be expecting, or in fairness asking, and certainly not receiving any favours here today, and indeed we will be going full out to take maximum points from this game for our own purposes. But aside from today I do have a soft spot for our visitors, given it was the first and only away fixture in May 1995 that I attended prior to purchasing this Club, and I do hope they manage to beat the drop, in what is becoming a huge dog fight at the bottom of the table, with any two from 10 or 11 looking capable of losing their league status, with 50 points probably not being enough, this year, for survival.
Fortunately, however, our issue and focus is with what’s happening at the other end of the table, and I’m sure all fans have been watching all possibilities as they unfold, working out different scenarios and although these notes were written on Wednesday there will have been more development last night in the Port Vale and Burton game, which will have affected the possibilities for us today. I predicted a long while back that we would need 84 points to secure promotion and League One football next season, it may be slightly less than that now, but to win the Championship, our fourth and most significant objective this season, it’s a target we will be trying to beat.
Certainly our Easter games at Fleetwood and last Monday’s demolition of Rotherham have placed us in a magnificent position, especially with some of the other results going in our favour the same day, but there will be no let up by this team, nor the Management until the job is done, and that ‘no let up’ extends to your support from the terraces which has been incredible both home and away all season but must continue every kick of the way for the next four games.
I would need more than the columns I have available in this programme to talk about how very immensely proud of, and grateful I am to Martin Allen and his back room team, and indeed our squad of real warriors, and how impressed I am in the way he has gone about his work this season. He will say, and indeed I agree, that it is a team effort, but he has led his team of staff and players on a daily basis to get our Club into a fantastic position, one which we would all have but dreamed of at the start of our current campaign. Four games to go, eight points clear of 2nd place, 11 points clear of 4th, best defensive record away from home in the entire Football and Premier League, better even than Premier Champions designate Manchester United, record breaking number of away wins, and maybe in the fullness of time he will be adding more to that list of achievements.
I have worked very closely with Martin this season, we talk almost every day, sometimes a few times a day, and we exchange views and ideas on a whole raft of matters, challenging each other on every aspect and detail of our game, our players, our opportunities, our potential signings and ways in which we can do things better.
We are creatures of detail, ensuring that everything that can help the boys perform is in place where possible, and with the structure now in place behind the scenes, from Schoey, the Asst Manager, Carl the first team coach, James the strength and conditioning coach, Gary the Physio, Malcolm the kit man, (whom I accept I played a very poor trick on at the team hotel in York, for which I apologize, albeit I was assisted by Deon Burton !!), to Junior and Max in analysis and logistics and of course Hessy who has been supporting us all from Board level, not to mention Gwen our loyal Club Secretary and all the office, shop and stadium staff, who have all played such a big part in getting us to where we are today, you are all winners.
As for the players, I am lucky that over the seasons I have had the privilege of working with some great players, some lovely individuals and some terrific talent, albeit I’ve also had to suffer a few very bad apples (well two to be precise), but I can honestly say hand on heart that the squad of players we now have at this football club are all talented, are all great players, are all really good people, solid individuals, great characters, honest on and off the field, and a great example and credit to their profession, to themselves and to this football club.
I enjoy their company, as and when I can be with them, and hope they will all be around for some time to come, accepting that in this business change often has to happen for footballing reasons. It would be wrong to talk about individuals as they have all stood up as men this season, shoulder to shoulder, and make no mistake, any team that sits on top spot for almost the entire season, whereby opposition teams battle to shake their ladder and raise their game accordingly, and are still there at the tail end of the season are a team of strong determined individuals, built with a special mentality, and we should all count ourselves lucky they are playing for our Club.
Today we must focus again on one objective. It will be another tough battle because Torquay will definitely fight and make life difficult for us. They want to stay in the Football League, but they are up against the current top of the table team, and we are there because we have earned that right. Lets get behind the boys again and make this fine stadium rock, we are the 12th man and we have a job to do too.
Can I also remind you that three individuals have been banned from Priestfield and are subject to Court action for entering the field of play this season. It’s not my rule but the law prohibits anyone from coming on the pitch, please respect that today and at every game as I want you all in the stadium next year. The players will do a lap of honour after the last home game so you’ll have plenty of opportunity to applaud them at that time. Thanks for that and sorry to mention it, but it has to be done.
Hi to my mate Brian Jones, hope you managed to get here today
Thanks for your support
Up the Gills.
Paul D. P. Scally