I’ll be honest – I so wanted to have two front pages up, but I couldn’t fit them on. But while world history will focus on the two individuals above, football history finds its own landmark decision in these very 24 hours.
First things first. Extra massive special thank-yous to Erik Samuelson, Jim Sturman, David Barnard, everyone who put their arse out to get these points back. Massive, massive thanks. And I mean that. Oh, and Trevor Williams as well, probably the most relieved man in football at this moment.
Another massive, massive thanks to all those supporters and clubs who did back us. In one or two cases, teams that would have directly prospered with our 18 points lobbed off (hello Margate). Trust us when we say we really do genuinely appreciate it. Ultimately, we were the only ones likely to change this rule simply because of the (financial and legal) backing we had. That’s not me swinging my large gonads, that’s just the way it was. Thankfully, if it happens again, there’s now a precedent set – only downer is that Alty are a bit pissed off…
So, where do I start? Let’s look at what the deal is. We’ve lost 3 points, which is what the punishment would have been before this rule was set in stone last season. It caught out Altrincham, and until today it caught us out as well. Don’t believe me? Do a bit of googling about international clearance, see all the various cases about this, and see what the punishments were. Some were 3 points, some were 2, a couple of 1s, and one lucky bastard team got zero points and a mere Â£200 fine. And even they thought it was excessive. Ungrateful gits.
So we haven’t smashed the rulebook up, we haven’t waved a magic wand about and got our wish. We merely closed a very nasty little loophole that shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
Funnily enough, at time of writing no details are up on the Ryman site. I wonder why. Not much more on our OS either, although I hope we’ll get the breakdown of what occured soon enough.
But it’s the FA website that you should be referring to right now. Read it? Good. Here’s the money quote:
“The Appeal Board ruled that, although the Ryman League had not misinterpreted its rules on eligibility and the decision to deduct 18 points was wholly in accordance with those rules, given the specific and unusual circumstances the deduction of 18 points was excessive.”
So rules are rules, except when they’re not. To me, I think it’s a case that they knew the rules were basically a load of bollocks, and the thought of us taking this to the CAS (or even to the law courts) were probably the “specific and unusual circumstances”. Hey, didn’t we get a football club taken away because of unusual circumstances? I guess what goes around really does come around. The truth is, if we’d needed to we could have pushed this further and won it anyway. As I’ve said before, if this was in the real world, none of this would have got to this stage.
It’s now safe to write this. I think it was after the Margate game, but I met an SW19 reader who seemed quite high up and knew quite a fair few people. Anyway, he pointed out something to me that I’m glad I can now type : apparently Altrincham didn’t appeal against their 18 points. Or at least not “properly”, because another team’s points deduction kept them up anyway. So in effect, our appeal today was unprecedented.
If I remember that conversation correctly (and apologies to the party concerned if I haven’t), then it proves one thing : take on these bastards and you can win.
Other thoughts keep spearing themselves into my head. This is our first appeal we’ve been and we’ve got it overturned. What does that say about the FA Trophy board then? Or worse, the Surrey Senior Cup board? The way we were treated by them, especially in the latter case, was completely vile. No appeal? Even Myra Hindley was allowed one. Is it true that the SSC refused to even let us state our case?
But there are two main points I want to bring up. Firstly, AFCW itself has a bit to learn. This whole episode proves once and for all that we have to be on top of our game off the pitch as well. We got away with it today. I’ve said more about this in the article I wrote a little while back, and I won’t bother repeating it again. Just remember that next time, we might not be so lucky.
Secondly, we’ve discovered a very nasty side effect of non league football. You all know what it is, we’ve had some of it thrown at us over the past few weeks.
Some of the outright bitterness towards us by rival fans borders on insanity. It’s going on right now as we speak. I swear that I really would kill the next twat who robotically slurred “Rules are rules”. Right now, we’re accused of being “cheats”. Why? Dunno. We were allowed one appeal, we got it overturned. I believe we were allowed to appeal, unlike the FA Trophy and the SSC tinpot saucer. Wonder if the Ryman has ever complained when a team takes them to appeal, loses and can’t have another go? Somehow, I think not…
There’s more. “Preferencial treatment” as well, just because it’s us? Yeah, yeah. Just like we got the same in 2002, or 1991, or doubtless other times when we’ve been bent over, sodomised with a large weapon and told it’s our fault. Believe it or not, this is only minor payback in the grand scheme of things.
But this evening, as I type, Turdey’s been on the radio. Here’s what he had to say (I am transcribing as much as I can make out):
“The League were not involved in the decision other than being in attendance, as were AFC Wimbledon. And the three man independent Football Association panel dealt with the matter.
“The appeal board rule said although the Ryman League had not misinterpreted this rule on ineligibility, and the decision to deduct 18 points was wholly in accordance with these rules, given the specific and unusual circumstances the deduction of 18 points was excessive. The Â£400 fine was not reduced” (hey, wasn’t that word-for-word the FA’s response?)
“Now the (Ryman) have asked for written reasons as to how the Football Association appeal board came to that decision”.
When asked about appeals…
“That’s a matter for other clubs to consider. There isn’t an appeal against this decision. But I understand that Mr Samuelson has said that several (his emphasis) clubs had written in. There were two that were in the papers and another two were brought today. So that’s four out of 66. And I believe those clubs were phoned up and asked if they would be supportive”.
Here’s what I think : Turdey has been humiliated. His power has been openly challenged and he’s lost it. He’s been giving it large about us “not knowing all the facts”, and now he’s been kicked in the ego. If you want to know why there’s so much hatred towards certain clubs in this league, your source is right here, croaking away like a dictator without a country.
He is openly suggesting – or is that bravado? – that other clubs should “consider” taking this to appeal. In short, getting his mates to do his dirty work. This is the same Alan Turdey who in the NLP was considering going past the mandatory 75 years of age to keep in his position. Rules are rules, eh Alan?
Don’t be fooled, this is a power thing. If the senile old cunt wanted to, he could consider legal action on behalf of the Ryman League. But he knows he can’t, so he’s banking on other clubs to take that financial hit on his behalf. We know if it goes further we can just make a phone call to a decent lawyer. Can the others?
As for his assertion that only 4 out of 66 backed us, ask Wealdstone fans why that is. Or rather, ask the clubs who backed Wealdstone back in 1999, only to apparently find “unannounced” ground inspections. There, you might get a different story as to what teams really think….
For probably the first time in a long while, Turdey’s fiefdom has been well and truly violated. I know we need to get out of this division ASAP, because I think Turdey is going to get quite nasty. But if we don’t this season, we should really get ugly ourselves next season. Fight fire with fire….
Actually, I’ve just had yet another thought. If relations between us, the Ryman and other clubs really deteriorate, can the FA move us to the Southern for everyone’s sake? Assuming we don’t go up….
Meanwhile, in a lesson of how not to do it, listen to the Billy Ricky manager on IMBD.
“The rules are the rules, and the FA have let me down twice. I was part of that Dagenham squad that missed out on promotion thanks to Boston.
“The rules are there for everybody to adhere to. If you start changing the rules midway through the season because somebody’s applied political pressure, or financial pressure, or legal pressure.
“What’s to stop me now going out tomorrow before the transfer deadline and sign two ineligible players, make sure I win the league by more than three points and have three points deducted?
“What is the motivation to stick to any rules? If you think you can bend the rules to your favour, then yeah. A precedent was set last year with Altrincham”.
See above. I gave up listening to it as he really came across like he didn’t really know what was going on. And to be honest, if he really did sign two illegible players he would scupper his case there and then. Remember that ours wasn’t deliberate (as the FAT board willingly accepted) – that’s the difference. Mind you, he says he has nothing personal against us. So that’s all right then.
Finally, a word to our players. You have it in your hands. Don’t fuck about like you’ve done the last three games. We’ve got you out of a hole. Tomorrow at Leyton, you have to prove to each and every one of us that you want it. You can finish top. But you must get in the playoffs. There will be a lot of us on Lea Bridge Road tomorrow. Don’t let us down. We haven’t let you down…..