Sitting on the stands with Him, watching his beloved Wednesday, in the church of Hillsborough, makes you think. I was struck by the importance great leaders (they are some what lacking and the new appointment seems to be sunning himself in Barbados) I was also reminded of the damage poor leadership can do (prior appointments with strange ideas – including not speaking to his players?!?). However, what I more importantly realised was that what really mattered – the heart, soul and the backbone, was what grows among the masses and no amount of promises, crazy initiatives and statements can alter the disciples faithfulness.
It was a lack lustre game of two uneventful and fruitless halves. If I was to say that watching the ill managed novices (who had played like Brazil’s finest on Boxing Day) was like watching paint dry – I wasn’t far off the mark (unlike the owls). It was cold, a grey overcast drudge of s January day and an air of discontent was hanging heavily around us. This said though, I felt strangely calm, invigorated and sated after our pilgrimage. . Not only did I feel serene but my thinking was piqued by the worried crowd – reminding me that how grateful I am to those who are always there.
I’ve recently had quite a crisis of confidence. If I said it has lasted at least six months, then I might be selling the time frame short. Ii also know I’m not alone in feeling this way…like one of the lost boys of Wednesday: just like their inability to know what to do with a ball, I’ve doubted my ability to do anything: mother, teacher, writer, cook, runner, dog walker…I’ve felt such failure that some days I’ve felt like hiding underneath my bedcovers and refusing to come out. But I haven’t. My stubborn backbone has made me dig my heels in and not give up. This is why I spotted an infinity with the whole scene in front of me.
In times of great uncertainty and constant change, we begin to look for something to anchor us. Without an anchor we lose focus and direction as we have no time to breathe and survey the journey we are on. You can be, or have the greatest leader in the world, with the best plan – but an anchorless team who can’t make out the course of smooth sailing has no hope. The players have had such a scenario and the side effects are varying. Feelings of exclusion and inadequacy as new bosses mean new working relationships and divides. Fear of failing and not fitting in with the new ethos, breaking confidence down. Feelings of paranoia developing as you start to feel there’s an ulterior motive to each team selection. It was frustrating to watch. I wanted to tell them that they are brilliant and that 17.000 fans watching have to keep the faith – we in it for the long haul. After all, you don’t stop supporting your team because they are having a tough time.
You see, when we lose our way and constantly ask why? The answer can take some finding. When you’re lost and can’t find your way, those around you also become frustrated and don’t always understand such soul destroying despondency that someone who ‘appears to have it all’ (I don’t but people make certain assumptions) can have so much selfish self pity. Just like the fans becoming angry at the money wasted on wages – £30K a week when buying a ticket means making certain cutbacks. However, the loyal, strong and true people stick around no matter how tough things get.
My words to Steve Bruce, when he takes over on the 1st are this:
Treat each player individually.
Empower them to become masters of their own destiny. Build a relationship of mutual respect between you all.
Build a team.
The fans will continue to be there.
Supporters are called supporters for a reason. And Wednesday supporters are the most steadfast and loyal in the
world (my god, we have to be!).
And to the board and Chansiri:
Give Bruce time to breathe.
Let him build his team.
Let him be their anchor and take them on a brilliantly chartered journey.
After all, don’t the players and the fans deserve investment of time?
All the above breads loyalty. But even though that’s part of a winning ingredient, what really matters is self worth. From leadership, to player, to groundsman, to supporter…feeling valued means a happy and tight ship. You see, no successful team requires a hierarchy, just bodies making informed and sensible choices, influenced by the love of the game and pride in their team.
I’m lucky, I’ve less people to please than the directors of SWFC have but my luck doesn’t end there. I’ve got many a cheerleader – and in the most obscure places. My thank yous and love for them are boundless. After all, isn’t that the real journey? Sharing your highs and lows with people you care about.
My advice, to all of you who are embarking on 2019 with both, trepidation and wonder: Choose your journey. Believe your brilliance. Surround yourselves with cheerleaders. You will end up winning whatever happens.