Dada Masilo

Laft Magpie: The Folly of #Faith and #Trust

12 May 19 words: Colin Sisson

To deliberately misquote Sinead O’Connor, it’s been half an hour and 8 days since Notts County lost its league status for the first time in its proud history. 

I’d written an earlier column for LeftLion where I’d likened our decline into a relegation dogfight as going through the Kublher-Ross stages of grief. What I didn’t know is that, unlike Notts’ performance, it’s not simply a smooth and rapid descent. You can go back up and through those familiar stages of anger, bargaining and depression again and again, as many fans are finding as the full impact of relegation is discovered. 

There is no question as to those most culpable; Chairman Alan Hardy taking full responsibility in his program notes for a disastrous tenure that saw his desire to make history at the club manifest into infamy as the first custodian to send Notts crashing out the league. His stewardship saw him sack three managers and swell a playing staff to nearly 40. It’s with dark irony that two of his most used Twitter hashtags of #trust and #faith proved to be his downfall, plunging his faith and fortune  into unfit and unworthy appointments both on and off the pitch. Sadly for him, Notts' plight only served as a harrowing metaphor for his personal predicaments too. 

Of those three managerial appointments, there are many fans who refuse to blame final-baton holder Neal Ardley, given the perilous circumstances he arrived into. It’s perhaps measure of the man, that, despite some evidence to the contrary, he accepted that both he and his players simply were not good enough. Ardley’s analytical approach, often changing shape and personnel to counter the strengths of the opposition, meant that Notts did take the fight to the final day. But the fact is not lost on me that Ardley had insisted from his appointment in November that Notts would become more effective ‘in both boxes’ yet ended the season with a minus 36 goal difference. Another example of misplaced #trust and #faith. 

Perhaps the only thing not to let Notts fans down was the inevitable reaction to our relegation from those outside the club. Some former players stuck the boot in (far more effectively than they ever did in black and white stripes) while rival fans squabbled over the vacant title of ‘world’s oldest football league club’ with the sensitivity of distant relatives raiding Grandma’s jewellery box (whilst completely missing the point that we remain The Oldest Professional Football Club in the World ™️). Please forward all interests in our current signage to NG2 3HJ.

On the subject of selling, the Notts faithful await news on who we are next to put our #trust and #faith in. Rumours of offers from consortiums as far away as South Africa are likely to keep fans busy in the post-season, but concerns are already starting to grow about the motivations of groups circling a club that finished 91st in the Football League who proudly boast ‘property development’ in their portfolios. Redevelopment opportunities seem to be pushing the price north of £5m - and who can blame any investor for wanting something concrete to invest in, given the volatile nature of football? 

But if this season has shown potential investors anything, the trust and faith of the County fans, who provided Notts with the 3rd highest gates in the League despite the fourth-rate football on show, is worth its weight in gold.

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