A Paradise Lost in a Milton Farce! Published 09/03/18 on Moore Than Just A Club
“A mind not to be changed by place or time. The mind is its own place, and in itself Can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n.” – John Milton – Paradise Lost
The battle for good versus evil has raged since time immemorial and the devil is in the detail as to whether good is always good and evil is always truly evil. The West Ham dominion has become a battleground of opinion with the once allies now are facing off against each other across the ether. Is there a right? Is there a wrong? Is there some truth in both?
The West Ham fanbase have been spun a tale of dubious intent and which has turned into somewhat of a nightmare. One could argue the owners, who worked wonders when they first arrived and were seen as the ‘good’, have now turned into the heretics who have led us down a path on which we can only see where evil lurks.
Club ownership is riddled with hurdles and one would imagine that only those with deep pockets and deeper egos would ever wish to have their hard earned money spurned on a folly and whereupon eventually most of the fanbase will wish you depart on the very first train out of town. Indeed, much of the modern game has been invaded by the super wealthy who are as far disconnected from our realities as extra terrestrials are to amoeba. They rarely share our values and relationship with a club…even when they profess to do so…however they dictate how the club affairs are formed, managed or even mismanaged as the case may be.
As businessmen I admire them for what they have achieved…as owners of football clubs, I rarely kneel to worship. Regardless of how the team performs, regardless of our final league position…a fan will always be a fan, but only of the club and never of the owners who may come and go as with the change of wind.
I sometimes wonder who in their right mind would ever wish to be a club owner? Why would anyone go out of their way to financially support a football team when it is so likely that fans will eventually hold you in such low regard and will equally eye you with disdain? I also concede to wonder why anyone would ever want to put all of their heart and soul into a club that offers little back and why any fan would travel the length and breadth of a country to see their team play?
Of course it is entertainment…supposedly, however it is obviously so much more than that and no amount of sane discussion can ever truly explain that connection between a fan and the team that they support. Can we ever explain the connection between the owners, the club and the fans? Possibly just as vague but nevertheless the sinews and synapses are there for all to see but the inexplicable soul may be found wanting, hiding and ignored.
Our weekly encounters do nothing to quench our thirst for better times nor do they make the rush of blood so less enticing. Our team performances have been awful for the better part of two years and our current plight is not shrouded in mystery…however intrigue may unearth root causes for our abysmal ways.
No matter what words are spoken and which promises are made…we can only judge foundation and integrity when actions are set in motion and the flames of the phoenix have died down to reveal results and tangible blessings. Perhaps this is the cause of the most recent divide within the fans who for the last few weeks had begun to rise up in unison beneath a banner flag only for the motion to be ripped away without explanation, reason nor rhyme.
Many have claimed that the evil within our club resides within the corridors of power and behind boardroom walls entrenched within the ivory towers. The owners have claimed best intentions and have repeated their protestations of innocence and continued commitment to the cause and promises of a castle fit for supporting kings.
Many fans have been indifferent or have been content with the bilge they have been fed…other fans have become recent converts and whom would hang on word and hold for future account…however a sizeable percentage would never believe, will not trust and must wait until concrete rectifications are in place and comprehensive answers to the most probing questions are delivered.
The fan march was implemented, organised and promoted to enter dialogue with the club owners and to have issues remedied with immediate effect. Much of the dissenting crowds have voiced their passionate pleas for transparency but also yearned for the current owners to leave their seats of power and never to return. Somewhere along the way, that also became part of the purpose of the march however it was never the sole purpose.
It was further promoted as a march to answer initial points of order but also to raise attention to a whole host of issues that fans were more than displeased with. The great and the good had come together as one choir but hardly in one voice. The club owners had become increasingly nervous about the marching bandwagon and the negative public relations disaster that would ensue. It was all primed for a demonstration of will and a regaining of fan power, to vent their concerns in an organised and peaceful manner and to begin to hold the ownership…finally accountable in the eyes of the wider public.
When the march was cancelled, there were shockwaves that spread throughout the whole fanbase, regardless of which side of the fence one stood. Much of the vitriol initially aimed at the club owners and vice chair…were now also being hurled at those who once wanted to march and those who promoted that will.
Accusations have become rife and tensions have arisen, not only because of changes in direction but also because of misunderstandings and miscommunications along the way. The purpose of any protest is to raise issues and to see that action is done. Action has not been done…only a promise to consider certain points or address issues in the future. That may be enough for some but it certainly isn’t enough for others and so groups left in the dust now scramble to reorganise a march when many are feeling deflated, angered and somewhat bewildered to say the least.
I now fall into the latter category. I was for the marching masses but I also realised early on that there was a contradiction of purpose between the many who wanted to march…however it all fell beneath that ‘umbrella’ of dissenting voices and those who wished for clarity, answers and explanations…if not for a change at the top.
Within the melee, attention has shifted away from the truths and lies from within the club and has targeted those within the fan group power houses. This was not the marching paradise I thought we were about to witness. The purpose has been thwarted and within it all I have become lost and confused…so much so that it has become a farce with noble intentions.
Whomever is allowed to march and whomever is willing to walk, then my hat is taken off for you, as I see your integrity intact and your purpose of knights in the day. However my greatest hope is that all outstanding and ongoing issues can be addressed and rectified with ‘immediate’ effect. That club and fans relations can improve beyond initial verbal advances and that we see the ‘good’ emerge where ‘evil’ once played. I had such high hopes for fans to be able to hold the club accountable and I continue to wish that be true but I am confounded and confused and feel it is a Paradise Lost in a Milton farce.