Club culture is paramount

This is from NO’s resident* Toon, in the club’s Mag:

I am old enough to remember the protests and the banners against Joe Harvey and the demands by supporters for his removal and for the club to show more ambition; to win a trophy. And this barely five years after winning the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (forerunner of today’s Europa League).

“Be careful what you wish for, it might come true!”

The Club duly sacked Harvey and what happened next?

We were ‘rewarded’ with Gordon Lee and Richard Dinning. And then….?

Nothing happened; new faces but same old problems.

We still haven’t won anything since 1969.(The Texaco Cup and the Anglo-Italian Cup don’t really count. Well, do they?)

jackiemilburnIn my book, the passion is the thing, the love of the club or the family or the nation or whatever it is you belong to.

Why is it that some clubs always talk of success, sell the club, bring in a a new board on a New Deal which is going to pave the stands in gold and it never really happens?

Mixing AFL and football a bit, there’s a club downunder which created these comments in a national article today:

The former North Melbourne big man is the ace the Cats haven’t played yet. It seems like every new player that comes into the Geelong system instantly becomes better. McIntosh was pretty good to begin with, but so far injury has prevented him from seeing how much better he could become playing with the likes of Joel Selwood, Jimmy Bartel and co.

Fortunately, the Cats have got by comfortably without him – they led last year’s premiers by three goals at three-quarter-time of the preliminary final, remember. But with a few of the veterans getting older or gone altogether, the emergence of another classy ruck-forward this year capable of taking the load off Tom Hawkins would be timely.

That could have been any club in any sport – it reads like a club journal, not a national newspaper.   And I’d like to go back to:

Fortunately, the Cats have got by comfortably without him – they led last year’s premiers by …

OK, substitute some words and we get:

Fortunately, ManU have got by comfortably without Van Persie and Roonie – they led last year’s premiers by …

Hard to define but everyone knows when a club culture is not good and when it is. And when it was good and becomes toxic. NUFC sounds toxic to me, forgive me if I’m wrong. Downunder, I read Collingwood’s blurb about it feels like 2010 [premiership year]. It might but they have big problems there of huge egos, a dog-eat-dog culture and very little love.

They’re an awful team.   Here is their club page, their symbol is the magpie.   Here is our club page.

Similarly, there’s a team like St Kilda who, even at their peak, could be beaten. As one former coach said, “Discipline was never writ large around this place.”

Club cultures can be replaced. If the money is not form the Glazers or from this or that tycoon but maybe from a consortium or a resident in town which pays, e.g. Ford in Geelong, if no one ego is allowed to reign but individual skills are allowed to shine within the system, then there is a happy club.

You can see happy clubs around – AFC Wimbledon is one where even Fulham fans went up to see the MK Dons game – everyone knows how football should be – a club game, not a money game but what everyone also knows is it can change just like that. Even ManU can be toxic.

This with them now is lack of character. Geelong are “under the boil” as they adjust to life after their greatest era but the culture is solid and players around the country would give a lot to play down there. Some clubs have this thing.

Hawthorn [reigning premiers] are a fabulous club and it’s in their theme song; “We’re a happy team at Hawthorn …” promoting themselves as the “family club”, the ultimate bourgeois club for the well-heeled who play a thuggish game. But give them their due, the bastards – they have a wonderful club culture [and respect us too 🙂 ]

Bringing back club greats to manage teams is not good either. Too much adulation, too much ego. Get the professionals in at board level and in the football department and surround them with the club faithful and there is a chance. But the core personnel must be good. Whoever sacked Harvey was after the short term success and not building for the future.

If this post has jumped around all over the place, it was meant to, to illustrate that all clubs in each game face the same elusive mix to achieve success but I’d say the most important, at bedrock level, is club culture. First and foremost.

*  I say resident but of late he appears to be a bit more non-resident at NO, maybe more Toon Army. Forgive him – we all know what Toons can be like. 🙂 .


2 responses to “Club culture is paramount

  1. “What is a club in any case?
    Not the buildings or the directors or the people who are paid to represent it.
    It’s not the television contracts, get-out clauses, marketing departments or executive boxes.
    It’s the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, the pride in your city.
    It’s a small boy clambering up stadium steps for the very first time, gripping his father’s hand, gawping at that hallowed stretch of turf beneath him and, without being able to do a thing about it, falling in love.”
    Sir Bobby Robson

    That applies to any club in any sport, professional as well as amateur.
    It is something accountants and money-obsessed Yahoos will never understand.

  2. Stands the test of time………….
    “The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It is nothing of the kind. The game is about glory, it is about doing things in style and with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom.”

    Danny Blanchflower