By James Phipps
Is it just me?
I have supported STFC since an early age, I remember the sheer excitement of the atmosphere outside, the buzz, the stadium noise.
I remember the whole of Swindon being bursting at the seams when we played Leicester at a packed Wembley (indeed, you struggled to get a ticket), the shop posters up in support of the team, everyone queuing on the M4 bridges wishing everyone good luck on the way to the match.
I remember, even though we got hammered in the Premier League, I still felt the sense of pride in the players, the club and fellow fans for helping get us there and try our hardest to stay there, even if ultimately it was in vain.
Several owners, managers and hundreds of players later I remember going to Wembley against Preston. There were no posters in the shops, nobody on any of the M4 bridges. We sold very few tickets and even before the game started my wife commented the Swindon end was like a morgue.
A FLASH BACK TO THE SWINDON TOWN OF 1993…
The day ended in misery as, indeed, our Premier League adventure did, but is it just me but it felt very different? Did the manager really want to be there? Did the players really want to be at the club? Indeed, did the war-weary fans want to be there?
For the first time I did not want to be there. I thought and hoped it was a one-off sensation but as we plodded through another season with the highlight of just survival in League One beckoning I feel utterly disillusioned, disconnected and out of love with a club that has been so precious to me with those memories since childhood.
It is not the want to “balance the books”, it is indeed the only solution to running the club sustainably and responsibly and, in credit to him, Lee is doing that better than most of the owners for a very long time.
It is the want to not recognise in any way that the fans matter, that actually we are the heart and soul of the club. Has Tim Sherwood changed this? Alas, even more invisible.
The players use a local gym and have on many occasions parked in disabled spaces and been rude to the staff and others users of the gym… surely they are close to outstaying their welcome.
It would not have happened in the era of Shaun Taylor or more recently Gordon Greer or Darren Ward. But there is a lack of respect to the fans that has somehow fallen through to some of our current players, who seem to believe they do not need the supporters. They are on peanuts, treated poorly and therefore the cycle just keeps going round and round.
I am hearing loud noises hinting Nathan Thompson could be leaving in the summer, as a large earner who has had injury issues it is not surprising and probably great business sense to replace with another kid on nominal wages.
But if it does indeed happen, with him will go the last real link to the area; the passion, the determination to over-achieve and stay connected to the fans and, for me, that would be the final chapter as a fan of the club.
Our attendance is around 25 percent down and the season ticket sales have plummeted. A friend and long serving STFC fan rang me to say he was going to a Southampton game instead our home game; he had really had enough and could not believe he was actually doing it.
It really must not just be me.
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