I am sure that after this afternoon's events there is an awful lot of soul searching going on by many people in authority around the club. I cannot, and will not talk about the specifics of what went on today, purely because once again, health kept me away. Having said that, after receiving a phone call at home at 5.20pm, I'm bloody pleased I wasn't there.
Ever since the decision was made last season to keep Kevin and Casey at the club I made the decision not to publicly dissent against it. I disagreed with it, wholeheartedly, but I could understand the reasoning of the board and Gary. Even though, in their statements following their bans neither made any apology to the supporters, I kept my counsel.
When Kevin spent most of his walk off at half time at Merstham having a verbal sparring session with Xavier Vidal whilst on a yellow card I chose not to bring it up because I don't want to be seen to have some sort of agenda.
When Kevin was handed the captaincy within a couple of weeks of his return to action I discussed privately with one or two my concerns over what kind of message this sent out. Again, I could understand the reasons behind giving him the armband to an extent, but equally there was no reason why he needed the armband to have an influence over the rest of the team.
When I got the phonecall this afternoon asking if I had checked Twitter, I answered that I hadn't. I was told that the match had been abandoned due to an on-field confrontation and that Kevin had been dismissed. Knowing that he had been substituted 25 minutes earlier, it was unlikely that the dismissal had been for a harsh second yellow card. The overriding feelings were of disappointment, dejection and anger - yet, there was no surprise or shock. Almost resignation.
I had been hoping with all my heart that the board and manager's faith and loyalty - and the loyalty of some fans - would be repaid and that the fears and concerns that I had would not be realised. That my natural pessimism would not turn out to be realism. Giving Kevin and Casey the chance of rehabilitation is a laudable notion from Simon, David B, Mike and Gary and, as I say, was a chance they wouldn't have had under me. I recall a lot of talk about loyalty being repaid with loyalty in the summer of 2015, about how Kevin and Casey were the first to offer to pay for nothing when we went through the budget cut of February 2014 and that perhaps they were owed something in return. Quite honestly, I didn't feel as though I owed them anything. I felt enormously let down. So, I saw this season as their opportunity to pay the fans back for (in the case of an admirable number) their backing and loyalty through their troubles.
During the whole sorry and sordid affair regarding their lengthy bans, what hurt me the most was seeing Hendon's name dragged through the dirt. I've spoken about this before on this board, but I take a lot of pride in seeing people tweet the club's feed thanking us for our hospitality and warm welcome. About how generally we get things right off the pitch, go the extra mile where we can to make people feel welcome. I love this club dearly, I've done what I can to keep the club afloat - granted in a small way - during the homeless years and now that we are in a position to really take the club forward, to build a real base from which to strengthen (even if it means having to take a step back on the pitch) I want that to be done whilst being proud of the club's name.
I cannot be part of that, though, and I refuse to be part of that whilst certain individuals continually bring the club's name into disrepute at every opportunity. I don't care what mitigating circumstances there were around the opposition being niggly, the referee being weak or it really just being handbags - every individual has to take responsibility for their actions and those drinking in the last chance saloon even more so.
Rob, Simon and co have done a great job in promoting a family friendly atmosphere on the terraces. Sure, there have been one or two bumps along the road, but every time I go to SJP, I look around at how much the facility has come on, I have a drink in the bar, I couldn't be prouder of the way the club has survived and is on the way to becoming. And yet, to really push on, we need those on the pitch to buy into things as well. There is no point having one code of conduct for fans to abide by if players behave like spoilt children on a school playground who have just had their conkers confiscated.
And, from what I can glean, it is because of the players and certain individuals in particular that we supporters have to once again sit back and watch the club's name potentially brought into disrepute AGAIN. Never mind whatever potential punishment there might be waiting for us after the referee's report if it is found that we have charges to answer. It's an utter embarrassment and quite honestly, at times like this I'm ashamed to be associated with the team. Not the club, the team. There's sticking together and there's brazen idiocy.
If Kevin was dismissed for an act of violent conduct then the board's statement of Friday October 9th 2015 doesn't leave much room for ambiguity...
"Following an internal disciplinary hearing, the Board of Hendon Football Club has decided the following:
- That Kevin Maclaren's registration is to be cancelled, with the cancellation suspended for two years commencing on the 1 August 2016. If, during that two year period, Kevin commits an act that is deemed, either by a match official or by any club director, as violent conduct, his registration will be cancelled immediately."
Despite his many positive attributes on the field when channelled in the right manner, should the above come into effect then, personally speaking, (and I suspect I might be in a very small minority) I will not unduly mourn his departure.
I feel tonight enormously for those that staked a lot more than I have in backing Kevin. I would absolutely hate to be in their shoes.
Re: Soul Searching
A great post, however, if Kevin has dived in if his mates are getting started on I cannot knock that despite the repercussions - you need to stick together.
I wasn't there but I hope no hasty decisions are made.
Re: Soul Searching
I'm going to largely keep my council for the time being (likewise, wasn't present, can't comment on details), even though I've thought of little else for the last 4 hours.
However, owing to the fact that Kevin and Casey are currently under suspended sentences and given the circumstances, I think it's only appropriate that Kevin (and Casey if he was involved) is suspended from all club activities with immediate effect while due process is followed. Not on the basis of pre-judging the league, the FA's or the club's inquiries (for all I know he was sent off under a case of mistaken identity and nowhere near anything that happened and if so he should be allowed to continue his probationary period) but because it's the right thing for a self-professed community club in this situation to do.