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FROM THE BOARDROOM PROGRAMME NOTES: DAVID WILKINSON

22 January 2018

These programme notes were written by Vice Chairman David Wilkinson, for the Morecambe edition of This Is Our Town.

Today we entertain the officials, players and supporters from Morecambe. Even though the Shrimps have been in existence for almost 100 years (2020), they have only been a League Club since their promotion in 2007. Manager Jim Bentley is Morecambe through and through having joined them as a player in 2002, and is the third longest serving manager in the League behind Arsene Wenger and Paul Tisdale. They have had a difficult season so far on and off the pitch, and we wish them well.

I write this on the back of a run of disappointing away results. It is often difficult to analyse reasons for them. There are so many variables which affect the outcome of games and performances, from weather and pitch conditions to inexplicable and frustrating decisions by officials. One decision the wrong way can adversely affect the end-result.

Those of us who have watched a lot of football have learned to expect the unexpected and the inexplicable, and it is often said that as a Luton fan you will have encountered it more than most. It's an unassailable fact though, that form is temporary while class is permanent.

I will not dwell on the disappointing Port Vale performance, as it was one of those days decided by a few uncharacteristic mistakes on an awful pitch in tricky conditions.

What a fantastic day/weekend we had at Newcastle. It was almost ten years to the day since we were told by the Administrator, outside the front gates at Anfield, that we were preferred bidders for the Club. That was an amazing occasion, and this was too.

The result might even have been different and Danny might have been the first to have a goal decision changed by VAR, rather than Kelechi Iheanacho for Leicester in midweek, if the technology was being used at that game. It is these types of decision that need to be reviewed because the financial rewards can be game changing in many ways. We all see examples every week of what we believe to be injustices and anything which can reduce them must surely be welcome.

It was a genuine pleasure going to St James' Park for the first time, and everything was done to make us welcome. The policing, stewarding and hospitality were second to none.

Gary has even taken the unusual step of writing to the Club thanking them for the way every aspect of our visit was handled, with specific emphasis on policing and stewarding. A fan contacted him to say: "If all games were managed this way more people would watch football because the experience would be so much better."

The boardroom was five-star and we were greeted by Newcastle legend Bobby Moncur, then looked after by a highly professional and friendly staff. Gary and I were pleased to be able to meet Malcolm MacDonald in the Press room on his birthday weekend. There were many lessons in the way things were done, which we would be proud to emulate in our new stadium. They show that large crowds can be treated with respect and inclusivity.

The Board are so proud of our fans always travelling in unbelievable numbers in all weathers. Looking up to see the throngs of faithful fans before the game at Newcastle brought a lump to my throat and several of us were close to tears of pride during and after the game. You are amazing and we all thank you.

Sometimes we need to look back to see how far we've come and I was amused by a tweet this week from Andrew Barringer with a picture of Gary and I at Hinckley six years ago. They were trying to defrost the pitch with kettles of boiling water. Needless to say it didn't work and the game was postponed.

When we eventually played them the following week we won 3-0 and it was the first time we had seen Andre Gray, who joined us a little while later.

We played well in the Checkatrade game against Peterborough and were unlucky not to take something from the game.

Our last disappointment was at Chesterfield. Not our day. However, a very hospitable club with a nice stadium and ostensibly professional set-up. They are underachieving, but I wonder for how long.

This week we had one of our regular meetings with the committee of the Supporters Trust at which we try to keep them in touch with our status and progress. They have the chance to ask questions and, of course, give us suggestions and ideas.

I am writing this in the middle of the transfer window – a time when speculation runs riot and fear abounds. We have a reputation over our history of being a selling club and have always expected our best players to be snapped up by bigger clubs. We want to be a bigger club so this doesn't happen so often, but we're not there yet. As Nathan has said we are always looking to improve our squad where and when we can, and you can be sure that Nathan, Mick and Gary will currently be up to their eyes in it.

Last, but most definitely not least, may I add my own homage to Cyrille Regis and our former players John Faulkner, Rodney Fern and Ted Phillips, who have all passed away in recent weeks. I know Roger Wash has paid tribute to John, Rodney and Ted in today's programme, and we will celebrate their contribution to our club with a period of applause before the game, so I won't go into further detail here other than to pass on the condolences of all at the club to their family and friends.

I was privileged to see Cyrille on many occasions and he was a regular visitor to the Kenny as a scout and agent, looking after a couple of our young players. He was here last week for the Peterborough game. In reading all the tributes we are reminded of his courage against the vile racism he encountered at the time he played. It is easy today to take for granted or underestimate his influence and achievement as a pioneer for black footballers, particularly as it was done with such style, grace and humility.

In recent times he was noted for his charitable work. Rest in Peace Cyrille, John, Rodney and Ted.

"Achievement has no colour" – Abraham Lincoln

Enjoy the game.

Come On You Hatters!


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