The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

You can't have a birthday every day because then it wouldn't be special

10 January 2019

East End Diary writes: Let's face it, supporting Town is rarely a serene and peaceful activity. It can range from smiling wryly at the latest calamity to laughing manically at the ongoing madness in a manner that makes the Joker look positively sane.

So it has been a pleasant surprise that recently things have been going well. Michael Jolley seems to be successfully building a spirit and unity around the team not seen since the abrupt break-up of the promotion side. A Premier League side respected us enough to play two of their best players (even if they did spend a significant portion of the game on the ground), and despite playing with 10 men for almost the entire game, a heroes' display meant Palace only just escaped a cold Tuesday evening visit to Cleethorpes.

Most remarkably, though, John Fenty put out a statement that I didn’t need to hide behind the sofa to watch. Yes, there were Fentyisms and a slightly odd insinuation that any new investor must "engineer a relocation for the football club". Whatever your views on a new stadium, I don’t understand why an investor must be planning to relocate. Surely that precludes the admittedly unlikely event of an investor coming in with a plan to renovate Blundell Park?

However, on the whole it was pretty fair, and built on the sense that the board is starting to listen to fans. The club has changed its stance on B teams, and even followed through with a plan to try and use the positive momentum post-Palace. This was a great initiative to build the fanbase and get local people who often don’t go to games to really rally behind the club and the revolution Jolley appears to be building. So it was really sad to see that sales have been slow, with the Trust tweeting about the need for fans to support this.

For that reason I was thinking I should utter a rallying call here, but then that surely would be the definition of preaching to the choir. Were it not for the fact that this Saturday I am working closer to our opposition from last weekend than to Blundell Park, I would be there in a heartbeat. And I'd presume that 99 per cent of people reading this will be attending if they are at all able to. Twitter is a useful tool but surely an echo chamber. I wonder how many of the club's tweets (or fans' tweets) actually reach people living in North East Lincolnshire who would not have already decided whether to attend a game.

Our attendance at Selhurst Park was magnificent, but I wonder what proportion of it comprised southern exiles for whom it was a local game. It was for me, and I enjoyed the company of several other southern exiles. It can help to create a great day out and a fantastic atmosphere; however, for me and many others a trip to Blundell Park requires planning at least a couple of weeks ahead.

So it's unlikely that many of those witnessing the heroic defence at Selhurst Park could welcome the team back home against Macclesfield. Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that even if the club does exactly the right thing, it might not be rewarded with instant success. A community club can’t just happen overnight: it is a long-term process over several seasons.

While the work Jolley has been doing is fantastic in several areas, he is still almost two months away from having been in charge of us for a full year. But maybe, just maybe, the club board is buying into that and maybe in a couple of seasons' time a full and noisy Blundell Park will be a given – regardless of ticket offers.

In the meantime let's hope all fans who can make it, and local people on the fence, prove the trust right and we get a crowd befitting Town's recent performances. And even if this is preaching to the choir, get yourself down to Blundell Park on Saturday if at all possible!