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Time to reflect on another season of ups and downs

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Jack Ross | 12:33 UK time, Monday, 9 May 2011

The end of a football season is always a time for reflection.

Managers, players and supporters alike will look back over the campaign and judge whether performances were good, bad or indifferent and whether ambitions were realised.

I was working at East End Park on Saturday where undoubtedly those of a Dunfermline persuasion could be more than satisfied with their individual and cumulative efforts over the season and yet, while watching the game, I was reminded of the same fixture at the same venue on the final day of the season only four years previously.

On that occasion I was playing in a Falkirk side which had secured a seventh place finish in the SPL, against a Dunfermline team already relegated.

There was a large and buoyant away support in attendance and a comfortable 3-0 victory for Falkirk.

It was almost a mirror image of the match on Saturday and illustrated just how quickly fortunes can change in football.

As if to reinforce this thought I then learned that another former club Clyde had been unable to avoid finishing bottom of the lowest tier of Scottish football-this only seven years after the Clyde team I captained being only 45 minutes away from winning promotion to the Premier League.

There are countless other examples of clubs who have fallen from grace in relatively short periods of time but when this happens is there blame to be apportioned or is it just simply a natural cycle which occurs at many provincial clubs?

If you believe that responsibility has to be shouldered for such demise then naturally players, management and club owners are those who would be deemed liable.

In some cases there is a clear indication of when and where the troubles began, such as the loss of a successful manager and top players or a change in board resulting in far less investment.

In others there can be gradual and varied reasons for a decline in achievements with calculated risks or gambles on certain players not paying off or boards showing poor financial budgeting, leaving a new incumbent manager in a position of weakness with regards to attracting new recruits to his squad.

The other school of thought is that clubs that lack the resources to sustain a long period of relative success will always remain those who enjoy periods of achievement followed by seasons of struggle.

The interesting thing is that fairly often supporters of such clubs accept such a cycle and regularly talk of a longing for a spell in a lower league where victories are far more common and old rivalries can be renewed.

It would seem that in football success is very difficult to achieve for clubs but if they are good enough to reach that goal, the sustainment of such success is an even bigger task.

This same logic it would seem can apply equally as appropriately to players. Having an impressive season and receiving plaudits for doing so is what they all strive to do, but improving upon these performances or indeed replicating them can often be beyond them.

How often has the game produced a player who scores more than 20 goals in a season followed by campaigns where he struggles to break single figures or witnessed an individual who collects every player of the year award there is but finds himself out of the team the next term.

These scenarios only emphasise that the game never stops offering challenges to a player - the great ones are, of course, those that can keep overcoming them.

This blog has undoubtedly been inspired by a certain degree of sentiment as Falkirk and Clyde are clubs that I have a great deal of affection for.

Both offered me great opportunities at different stages of my career and my sense of gratitude to them is part of the reasons why I am always eager for them to return to a period of success.

Both clubs have some fantastic people working at the club, both at management level and behind the scenes, and terrific supporters who I am sure will play significant roles in next seasons push for respective promotion.

Perhaps the best advice to offer those who are finishing the season with a sense of disappointment is from the legendary American fotoball coach Vince Lombardi who said:

"It's easy to have faith in yourself when you're a winner, when you're number one. What you've got to have is faith when you are not a winner."


  • Comment number 1.

    Sad to see the depths that Clyde have fallen to. I used to go and see them regulary when I lived in Cumbernauld, and although never the greatest team, they had a fair few decent players (This was in the days when Charlie Nicholas was turning out for them!)

    What's done for them was their inability to turn the football followers of the town away from the Old Firm. Not reducing the ticket prices when they were relegated was probably the beginning of the end.

    Must be a time of reflection for yourself as well, Jack?

  • Comment number 2.

    There are certainly teams that seem able to bounce back from relegation, Falkirk, Dunfermline, St. Mirren, Dundee and Partick are clubs that have been adept at doing this for the past 25 years or so. It's much harder to do so from a sustained spell in the lower eagues though, Ayr and Morton being good examples of that, I think only Accies have went full circle in that time frame, and given the financial reality now, they may well keep that record for another 25 years.

  • Comment number 3.

    Disaster for Scotland, it certainly has been a period of reflection from a personal perspective. It probably just highlights how quickly situations can change for players just as it does for clubs and emphasises how precarious the game can be.

    revaccies, it is a good point you make although the interesting thing is that the financial situation faced by some of those clubs you mentioned could mean that next season's First Division is fairly even in terms of what teams can offer in wages. It could be a very open championship as a result.


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