Lessons To Learn?

Wednesday, 5 September 2001, 0:00
3 mins read
Ok I know this is only their second season back in the top flight but look at their history especially in Europe under Bobby Robson in seasons gone by?
I know they have the county of Suffolk to tap into but its not that far from London .They have the choice really to watch Ipswich or Colchester Town which are only about 25 mins between each other. Then to get into Liverpool St Station its only an hour from Ipswich. That gives your average Suffolk fan a chance to watch the Arsenal’s and West Ham’s of this world. Not a bad footballing menu when you consider how far away Swansea’s nearest Premiership club is from us.
Ok so Ipswich do not have mega millions to spend. They have got by with an inspiring manager, Scotsman George Burley, a decent player in his time but when he entered management I remember a few Ipswich fans cussing his appointment as he was an unknown. I do not want to go into the pro’s and con’s of their season last year but look at their top scorer and if memory serves me right he was the Premierships top scorer -Marcus Stewart. A player, who for some time was playing in the lower leagues.
I have no idea of how Ipswich have done it. I understand that they have a good youth setup and I think that’s key. There have been some disturbing stories about how our own Youth Scheme is a sham, the first thing that springs to mind is the loss of Reeco from the youth coaching side of things.
As a kid I was not a big Swans fan. That fateful day in the High Court I was still at Junior School and our teacher Mr Daniels was frantically pacing the classroom obviously nervous at what could have been the death of Swansea City FC that day. Me and the lads did not care, we were ‘supporters’ of Liverpool, Everton, Spurs etc. Mr Daniels is still a regular at the Vetch and it was nice to meet him and his son at the Walker bash.
Maybe this is where the club is going wrong, we are not attracting the youth. Kids rather support the Man U’s of this world rather than the local team. I suppose there are several reasons for this. I never got to watch the Swans until my mid teens though I lived close to the ground. My old man never took us as it was too pricey and because of the trouble. Maybe the club should have done more to get us into the Vetch even if only to watch the reserves. A footballer is a footballer when you are kid and you would still look up at them in awe.
I spoke to an Ipswich fan ‘real blue’ via the Tractor Boys Rivals site. He commented ‘The club draws support from quite a large catchment area, not just Ipswich and the surrounding area, but a large portion of North Essex as well, many fans travel up from the capital as well.
In the first Division we had average crowds of 18,000 and these will increase to 30,000 when the stadium redevelopment is complete.
However I would say our success is based more on the shrewd management of the team and the club by the manager George Burley and the Chairman David Sheepshanks, who have managed to assemble a talented squad without shelling out large sums of cash, and also redevelop the ground without effecting the money available for transfers.
Burley is a genius in the transfer market and has the full support of his chairman unlike the situation at most football clubs.’
An interesting perspective and something we have never had in tandem at the Vetch before. A dynamic and respected Chairman along with a cracking manager. I put Frank Burrows in a similar bracket to George Burley. When was the last time we spotted a gem from the non leagues? I can think of Smudger from Tiverton but none others since the Burrows era.
I think there is the ‘underdog’ factor as well. Everyone loves an underdog and if Swansea can start to beat teams then perhaps more fans from the likes of Haverfordwest and Milford may venture to the Venture.
Lets face it we are certainly the Welsh Underdogs and people may flock to us rather than the arrogant and swaggering moneybag glory hunters down the M4.
Bigger crowds lead to bigger revenues something that our club is crying out for. There is no magic formula but I think we can learn a lot from the set up of the long running ‘fairy tale story of East Anglia’
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