How long have you been supporting County?
About 18 years now. I was originally a City fan but that relationship faded as the tans and blonde streaks of the players increased. The City team of that time turned up, took their wages and went home. There was no passion from the players and no reason to keep watching them. I spent half a year meeting my mates at 11:30am in the local pub and deciding on a match at random from throwing darts at fixtures in the newspaper. We saw many a good lower and non-League game during that time.
In winter my United-supporting brothers came back to visit and suggested we go to County as it was neutral team for us all. I can?t remember having been before and I bet I was like a lot of the football fans in Stockport that we still fail to connect with. We?ll have to think different to change that.
Anyway, once in the ground I was smitten by how vociferous the crowd was, how close you could get to the players and how much the game seemed to matter to them. The latter was the most powerful draw for me. It was real football, with the emphasis on ?real?. I just turned up and turned up after that.
How did you get involved with the Trust?
As a hobby I create web sites. I?ve done some for household names and one of them is still online after I created it six years ago. I won?t tell you who it is though. This is what drew me to the Trust ? I didn?t like their web site and so I arranged to meet with the Trust Board to show them my suggested version and how they should go about keeping it fresh. I no longer look after the Trust web site by the way and think the design needs freshening up. But that?s a challenge for Adam who looks after it, not me!
The meeting I attended was the AGM at which two people stood down and only one person put their hand up to join the Board. There were only eight people in the audience so I thought ?oh well, at least I can have more of a continued say on the progression of the web site? and put my hand up too. That is the meek story of my quest for ultimate power and ownership of County. It is not too dissimilar a story for most of the Trust Board which is why any (albeit rare) accusations of ego tripping are deemed ?scuttlebutt? but still logged in my memory for later use.
A Trust without a club to run only ever has one rasion d?etre, and that is to be ready and capable in case the club gets in trouble. Fortunately we had made ourselves look more seriously at the business of football in the six months prior to the call from Brian Kennedy, and when that call came we were not totally blind to the nature of what we might be taking on, although some of the ensuing detail was unforeseen and unpleasant.
What were your feelings during and after the Trust takeover of County?
From day one until today I?ve still not had that ?punch the air? moment since taking over County. I?ll get that after our first year of safety in the Championship. But I tell you, during that time I?ve had many emotional low-points. The negotiating period is something I shall never forget, none of it for good reasons and not all of it to do with Cheshire Sport. I?m firm in my belief of the saying: ?you reap what you sow? and I like to get myself into the position where I decide if and when the reaping happens.
I was well aware during all that time that upon owning the club we would inevitably find that ?smell at the top of the stairs? when we stepped inside County. Although I would rather this had never happened and I?d had a life instead these past 14 months I can say that now that having smelt that smell, and having seen where it emanated from, then the Trust is without a doubt the body to be running County ? the Club AND the business. No doubts whatsoever.
What are the Trust?s main priorities for the next few months?
Although I was against it at the time, I admit the way in which the Trust went about observing rather than changing County for the first five months after the takeover was precisely the right way to go about things. It was this period of observation that allowed us to knowingly make the correct decisions and create a plan of action which we are seeing through at the moment.
It is no secret that our plan includes positioning ourselves to buy Edgeley Park ? if we want. A very jingoistic statement for me to make, but then not something I would say unless we had a very decent chance of achieving the unthinkable. To be in the position where we are even talking about such a move with any level of confidence is impressive, especially after only 8 months at the helm. Of course, there are lots of twists and turns to come on that one.
On the pitch we are lucky we have Jim & Wardy and we will look after him and Wardy. Chris Turner was happy with his budget, no doubt about that, but it just didn?t work out. Jim still has money unspent but just witness the difference in the team! It?s not ALL about the money. The royal ?we?, including Jim and Wardy, have just proved it.
For me, picking a manager is about this: ?is he intelligent (Y/N)?, followed by ?I hope he?s lucky.? Everyone will have their opinion on what makes a good manager but if we had never had Chris Turner and then his c.v. had appeared on the desk at the end of December ? he?d taken Hartlepool out of the doldrums don?t forget ? and we?d interviewed him, then I suspect he might have been offered the job. I maintain that picking a manager relies heavily on luck, and blimey, have we been lucky with Jim!
So off the pitch we shall continue to implement our plan to slowly improve the lot of the humble fan and create alternative sustainable income streams whilst on the pitch I hope Jim carries on doing what he does and saves us from the drop. If he doesn?t though, after shedding a private tear and feeling slightly ashamed that I was involved at the point we lost League status I?ll not be overly worried as we will be well placed with the right amount of backing and, most importantly the right management team to come back up the following year. I rarely get carried away with myself, but I truly believe that.
Short term plans for County?
Between now and the end of the season there will not be a lot happening other than hoping we stay up and the announcement of next season?s ticket prices, which, assuming we stay up will either remain the same or be reduced. There should also be the unveiling of the fan-designed and voted-for new home kit for next season which we have hope to have on sale in late May, just in time for the summer holidays. County had signed some ridiculously long and badly designed contracts with some suppliers in the past and it is no shock to the populous to say that TFG was one of those. Grrrr! At least they are behaving a little more like a supplier this year.
If any reader wishes to smell that smell at the top of the stairs and find out about all the secret stuff (and then get rightly lambasted for ever mentioning it) then as long as they are prepared to work very hard, very selflessly and not dip the ?Directors Duty? like most of us do because it?s miserable watching a match from up there ? why do you think we made Norman Chairman :o) – then they are welcome to join us.
Interview With George Hudson
How long have you been supporting County?