Monday, 21 July 2008

Own goal saved . . . I hope!

Full marks to my Rover for getting me to the West Midlands and back yesterday for an advisory council meeting. The journey was an exhausting eight hour round trip but with the M6 relatively clear of hold-ups and the car performing well, I was back home by half past eight.

The meeting was very constructive. I had hoped to give a report of it on this blog but the Chairman reminded everyone as we left the venue that the discussion that takes place and the decisions that are made at AC meetings are confidential. So I am unable to brief you.

The most important item on the agenda, in my opinion, was left until last and I am delighted to report that the possibility of a massive BNP own goal has been averted. I would love to tell you more about it, but I can't, although I expect the news will filter out this week. I shall just allow myself the one pronouncement on the issue. "Self-interest and short-termism has no place in nationalist politics!"

While I was burning up the tarmac on the M6, Workington Reds were beating Scottish non-league outfit Spartans 3-0 in a four team tournament at Annan. I was there on Saturday to see Reds draw 2-2 with the home side, and there's a little bit of a political story here which is worth recounting.

Most will know of the demise of Gretna FC who have gone from the Scottish Premier League to football oblivion almost overnight. Well, their place in the Scottish League has been taken by Annan Athletic who were voted into the Scottish Third Division last week, and to say that it was a shock is an understatement.

There must have been half a dozen clubs more suitably prepared to take Gretna's place, but because Annan is just seven miles up the road from Gretna, politics has taken preference over commonsense and Annan have been given the mantle to carry on the football revival in the south of Scotland.

Now don't get me wrong, Annan is a smashing little club. I was there a couple of years ago for another pre-season friendly and you get a great welcome there. It was the same on Saturday although those associated with the club were walking around in a state of shock. They are just not prepared for the transition, they didn't expect it and now I think they have just been swamped by the magnitude of it all. The club didn't even have floodlights, although the holes were being dug for them last week.

Of course, I have an interest which is why I am telling you this tale. Annan Athletic have been given £60,000 by the Scottish League to facilitate the promotion and that gives them a budget vastly superior to Workington's and they have already been after three of our players, trying to entice them away from Borough Park.

Sadly that's the politics of football at our level and especially in a football outpost like West Cumbria. I'm hoping our players stay loyal and aren't attracted away by the lure of possible higher financial rewards, but with the credit crunch hitting football up here hard, local part-time footballers are looking for the best deal they can get, which is understandable.

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