Jez Says - 18th March
Firstly, and I am sure that my comments will be echoed in Richard's notes, I would like to congratulate and thank every single one of you who was here on Saturday. I thought that your support was incredible. Absolutely outstanding. You lived up to the true definition of "supporter". You recognised the team was struggling, you could see the players needed your backing and the way in which you responded was superb. That is what a club should be all about. Talking about togetherness and a "one club" mentality is easy. Showing it, when tested, is another thing. It is easy to support a team when they are winning or playing well and don't need it. But to support your team when the team are losing or playing poorly and really need it defines a true fan. The players and staff really appreciate it and will repay your loyalty, faith and unconditional support.
I believe in the old Gary Player saying "the harder I work, the luckier I get". I also believe in a saying that I have repeated ad nauseam to our young players over the years. "Good characters look through the window when they win and in the mirror when they lose. Bad characters look in the mirror when they win and through the window when they lose." In other words when things are going badly, the first thing you need to do is take ownership, personal responsibility and look at yourself to change it. That is honesty. It also means that when things are going well, the first thing you need to do is give others credit and realise that all success is a collective effort. That is humility. These are the core values of the club, along with work ethic, commitment, dedication, respect and teamwork. That is why, allied with so many talented staff and players, I know that we will come through this difficult spell. We have 12, potentially 15, games that will define our season. In difficult moments, it is important to retain belief, work even harder and go back to basics. In the first half of the season that was our trademark. Anyone who watched us play would say that collectively we were greater than the individual sum of our parts, that no-one worked harder, that we were difficult to beat, tough to play against and almost impossible to score against. We weren't always great, we didn't always play fantastic football but we were consistent. And that brought its rewards. This time of the season always brings unpredictable results. Pitches get lively as they dry out, teams are fighting for their lives at the bottom and the closer you get to a prize the harder it becomes to achieve it. But I think we should look forward and not backwards. We are in pole position to get into the play-offs. We are second in the league. We are playing in a cup final at Wembley on Sunday. And we have the best fans in this league who recognise that we need them to get over the line and achieve what we all want. So let's put things into perspective, keep believing and relish the challenge.
I also believe that to ensure sustainable success and have any chance of continued long term success, you have to build a club and not just a team. That means the right football structure, the right staff, the right processes and the right philosophy. You also have to build a club from the bottom up. That means from our youngest pre-academy age group to the first team. The young man in the photo below demonstrates the talent we have in our academy. His name is Elliot Thorpe and he recently joined Premier League giants Tottenham Hotspur after 7 years in our academy. There are plenty more like him. We have a conveyor belt of young players for many years to come. In two years time, the damage of the club closing the youth scheme in 2005 will be fully repaired. That will be 10 years after it was re-formed. And all achieved against all the odds.
That is why I know this club will be promoted. No-one can guarantee when! we can't guarantee that it will be this season, but I am convinced that it will happen. That is because we have all the qualities that I highlighted above in every facet of the club. You have seen them on the pitch. You have shown them in the stands and on the terraces. And I have the privilege to see them every day from our staff and directors. You can only build a club from the bottom up if the top is right. I cannot begin to tell you the quality of people in our boardroom.
Last night there was a shareholders meeting. It will have shown the financial input again from directors during the last financial year to ensure this club survived. Like you they love the club and prove it by putting their hands in their pockets. But that only tells half the story. The hours of work, without any financial remuneration, and selfless leadership of Dave Doggett is outrageous and sets the tone for everyone. The commitment, and sheer passion for the club, of Colin Proctor is incredible and makes him the perfect representative of the fans. Then there is Robert Smith. His work behind the scenes and contribution to the ethos that now pervades the club and created the trust is invaluable. He really is a top bloke and crucial to the continued development of both businesses, as a director and trustee. Graham Daniels also combines his role of club director with an active role within our trust, which he chairs. I cannot speak highly enough of him. He helps me enormously, with clarity of thought, intelligence, insightfulness and a real ability to cast vision. He is also a brilliant communicator.
Terry Baker is the elder statesman of the board, who has provided unstinting financial backing and business nous over the years. Eddie Clark is the most recent addition and another massive contributor, in all respects, and Renford Sargent will be a name recognisable to everyone from two different spells at the club. He re-joined the board at the same time that I joined for the first time and is another club benefactor. Renford has also showed at crucial times over the last five years that he was able to make tough decisions in difficult circumstances which have shaped where we are today. We now have a club based on competency and character within the boardroom and football operation. That has come through design not accident.
So the future is bright. This season will show the best financial results for many years. That is because we have had our best results and performances on the pitch for many years. But it is also due to a structure that ensures success on the pitch can be achieved without spending an inordinate amount on player wages and whatever happens between now and then end of the season, we will be able to build on this work. In the past, we have ripped it all up and started again. Now we build, develop and improve. So success will come because we are doing the right things to ensure that it happen.
In the first half of the season, the team set new standards and broke several records. On Saturday, you set new standards and showed that we are different to other clubs with a real bond between the players and supporters. On Sunday, I had the privilege of taking a team of ex Cambridge United players who were supporting CRY in a fundraising game at Royston Town. It is obvious the likes of Trevor Benjamin, Alex Russell, Micah Hyde, Andy Duncan, Omar Riza and Andy Beattie all have such an obvious affection for the club. The current players know they have a fantastic opportunity to write their names in the annals of our history and make themselves legends. Our job, that's directors, staff and supporters, is to help them grab the moment.