We wrote on the subject of the light at the end of the tunnel at St Albans City, now of the Southern League, at the end of last week, and are pleased to be able to update those that had not been paying too much attention over the last few weeks. The club, which has had the smell of dry rot hanging around it for the last couple of seasons, was bought out by local businessmen two weeks ago and they had already announced that they were looking for a new chairman. Well, earlier this week they confirmed that they had found one, and it means a very welcome return to Clarence Park for Ian Ridley.
Ridley will be well-known to some of you as a senior football writer with thirty years of experience in the national press, and a well-publicised spell as the chairman of Weymouth FC a decade or so ago. Mistakes were made there, but Ridley was candid enough to own up to them in his outstanding book, “Floodlit Dreams”, which was one of the most illuminating books about non-league football of the last decade or so. He also returned to Weymouth as chairman there and had a spell as a director at St Albans City under its previous ownership before leaving in 2006. His experience will be a valuable asset to a club that has fallen upon hard times of late.
Most significantly of all, however, his arrival at Clarence Park can only be taken as a sign that he is winning or has won his fight with prostate cancer, with which he was diagnosed in 2009. More than anything else, any other considerations relating to any football club, that he is fit enough to be up to this job is, entirely in itself, excellent news. Meanwhile, supporters of St Albans City can take considerable heart that the areas that he is taking responsibility for – team affairs, sponsorship and marketing, press and public relations – are areas in which this particular club has suffered in recent years and which are almost certainly repairable.
Under new ownership and with an experienced chairman in place, then, a club that looked at the point of oblivion just a few weeks ago seems reborn and its supporters can, after a couple of years of having a lot to complain about, get back to the business of supporting their club, and the new wind sweeping through Clarence Park can be seen from the fact that a Fans Forum is being held at the club this evening so the those supporters can meet the new owners. It may not win them automatic promotion next season, but such an air of positivity is breathing life into a football club that has been plying its trade for one hundred and three years in the shadow of bigger neighbours on most sides.
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