Reality Bites


Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.

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2 Responses

  1. Lieutenant Dub says:

    Your article is as interesting and well-written as ever, but I think you’re being a little harsh on the club in a couple of instances.

    Firstly, Weymouth’s catchment area isn’t that big. The town of Weymouth has about 60,000 residents, many of whom are elderly retirees who are unlikely to attend football. Drive 30 miles to the north, east and west and you’ve a historically bigger club in each direction – Yeovil, Bournemouth and Exeter. In between Weymouth and these towns there is literally nothing, just mile after mile of green desert and a tiny number of angry yokels. The only significant nearby town is Dorchester, which has around 7,000 people and a sizeable non-league team of its own. In these circumstances, attendences of around 1000, which Weymouth achieved prior to Ridley’s arrival, aren’t too bad, and this makes Harrison’s frustration at low attendences even less understandable.

    Regarding the Tony Taggart affair, for instance, Havant clearly breached a written agreement – although, admittedly, not a contract as such – between the two clubs, and as such most Weymouth fans were pretty annoyed with the long, drawn-out decision making process of the Conference board. Weymouth fans were adamant that they’d been soundly beaten on the day, so there was no real desire to recover the points, but as Havant were in breach of an agreement, it can’t really be said there were no grounds for the action, and blame for the inefficiency of non-league football administration, whilst fairly predictable, can’t be laid at Weymouth’s door. It’s a bit of a stretch to say this made St Albans position much more uncertain than it was previously – especially as they ultimately finished eight points behind Weymouth and several clear of Havant (even without the eventual points deduction).

    As for the Weymouth – St Albans game last year, whilst the behaviour of a few Weymouth ‘fans’ was very poor (and it seems it was more if a case of a few local yobs being attracted by a big crowd: in all the years I’ve lived in Weymouth there’s never been any serious problem with hooligans), it was a admittedly serious failure of stewarding rather than the dastardly machinations of the club. That portion of the ground is given to all away fans, and it has held more than the 300 from St Albans, though as you say it isn’t very comfortable (and the home fans have mentioned this to the club on many occasions). You say it’s unknown whether this affected the players: I think it’s very unlikely. Most people at the ground were unaware of what was going on until after the game (including myself: I was standing at the other end of the ground) and I’m sure the players were more concerned by what was going on on the pitch. From what I remember of the game, Weymouth gave pretty good value for a 3-2 win, and looked quite comfortable even after having a man sent off. The Hakim affair is a good example of the club getting a bit too big for its boots, but at least some of the responsibilty should lie with the greedy player as well as the club.

    I don’t think Weymouth will be relegated or will go into administration this year, and there’s no threat to the club’s survival. Harrison is resigned to the fact that he won’t see his money again – most of his expenditure was just that, rather than loans to the club, and as a result even now the club is in less debt than it was during the Ridley era – Ridley’s mismanagement was just as bad as Harrison’s, maybe even worse, and had Harrison not arrived to bail him out, like the low-rent Abramovich he probably is in his own mind, this situation would have been arrived at much earlier. They’ll flog all the players – and there’ll be a market, most of them would look good at Conference or League 2 level -get a bunch of part-timers in, and revert to how their low-rent, low-expectation non-league existence they enjoyed prior to Harrison. At what level remains to be seen – there’s no reason why they won’t fulfil their conference fixtures next season, at at the very best a few years of Forest Green style slog at the foot of the conference will follow – I think it’s more likely they’ll be relegated next season. The crowing of other clubs’ (including St Albans, sadly) ‘fans’ on various non-league messageboards that they’ll be in the Western or Dorset league in future is very unlikely to be realised.

    I think the last couple of years will be remembered by fans of the club as a period of idiocy and hysteria rather than the end of Weymouth football as they know it. Weymouth’s era in the top tier of non-league football ended in 1989, and I think in ten years time, they will be playing in the sixth tier of English football in front of crowds of around 1000, just like they were 10 years ago. But they’ll have some good memories, of being on TV and being a national draw for a while, so in the long run, the harm to the club will be minimal. As you say, the fifth tier of English football can’t sustain 24 professional clubs. But whilst there are people like Harrison, willing to throw away their money living an impossible dream, there won’t be a realistic reassessment of football at this level, and a couple of clubs will continue to fall by the wayside every year.

  1. December 1, 2008

    […] did the travails of Weymouth FC on here before, in January 2007. Things seem now to be going from bad to worse down in Dorset, with the latest rumours involving a […]

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