Part of me

Jono Bullard says why he just can’t walk away

As I start writing this article it is an hour or so after Panthers latest loss, this time 5-1 to Coventry at the Skydome, the 20th league defeat of the season from 40 games. In fact, since winning the Continental Cup on the 20th January Panthers have won just 3 games and lost 9 in all competitions. For a club of our perceived standing that simply just isn’t good enough.

As an aside for a second, I do want to talk about the Continental Cup. I’ve seen some say that the only reason Panthers won the cup is because the quality of opposition wasn’t up to much. I do not concur with that opinion in the slightest. For me winning the cup was a magnificent achievement and while the opposition in the first tournament wasn’t the greatest, to win in Denmark and Italy against teams of a similar standard was incredible. Factor in that the team had to win three groups away from home and it makes the achievement all the more remarkable.

It’s just a shame that such an achievement has been tarnished by a shambles of a domestic season. However, the Continental Cup was made a priority and now that has been achieved it seems the season has all but ended. It seems to me that the priority now is to win the home games (see Sheffield & Coventry victories) while effectively treading water until the play-offs.

This doesn’t seem to be having an effect on attendances though, 7,000 against Sheffield, 6,700 against Coventry. The poor performances don’t appear to be having an effect on the numbers and while that is the case why would the management change anything?

Thing is I don’t think I’ve seen as much anger amongst the core fan base as there is now. Many long term supporters are questioning their commitment, many saying they will not renew season tickets, others saying it’s time to vote with your feet and send a message. Whether or not many carry out on these threats remains to be seen but they certainly seem to be increasing in number. I believe that the club does just enough, it doesn’t go out of its way to give the team that bit extra needed to compete on a consistent basis. They always seem to go for maximum profit over extra competitiveness. However with the crowds still coming through the doors, why do the management need to do anything different?

For things to change I believe that the club has to be hit on the bottom line, a reduction in income may buck up a few ideas. However I simply couldn’t walk away. I’ve invested over 30 years of my life into supporting this club and sport. I’ve made great friends and met my wife through it. I’ve been there for the highs, the lows and the beers. The club and the sport are part of me and who I am and I couldn’t give it up just like that. Thing is I guess I’m not the only one and whilst this is the case my fear is nothing will change.

This led me to another question, am I part of the problem? The answer I come up with is yes, I probably am.

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