With a fighting spirit and unity the future is orange

RETFORD, Retford Town Hall, Market Square.'Worksop Town FC supporters gathered in large numbers to protest against the decision to reject plans for an ASDA and possible new Tigers ground on old Vesuvius site.  They targeted a Bassetlaw District Council Cabinet meeting and were joined by Bassetlaw MP John Mann and some Labour councillors.'Picture: Worksop Town supporters and other protesters with John Mann outside Retford Town Hall.
RETFORD, Retford Town Hall, Market Square.'Worksop Town FC supporters gathered in large numbers to protest against the decision to reject plans for an ASDA and possible new Tigers ground on old Vesuvius site. They targeted a Bassetlaw District Council Cabinet meeting and were joined by Bassetlaw MP John Mann and some Labour councillors.'Picture: Worksop Town supporters and other protesters with John Mann outside Retford Town Hall.
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Worksop Town are not going to go quietly into the night – they cannot, they must not after 153 years of history.

There’s nothing quite like a crisis to bring people together, and amid all the chaos, twists and turns since Jason Clark departed a week ago, there have been signs of a much needed unity.

If Worksop Town are to continue to play football, regardless of the league or level, then the board, the staff, the fans, local politicians and this newspaper you are reading right now must sing from the same hymn sheet.

What has emerged in a very clear and obvious way, is that the supporters want their club to live on, and they want to take control of its future.

Perhaps a more surprising revelation – at least to some in the fanbase – is that the board want to give the fans a voice and then listen to it.

The emergency meeting on Tuesday night in Langold could have boiled over into a finger pointing blame game. It could have got genuinely ugly.

But it didn’t.

Fans made it clear they didn’t want to be kept in the dark, they didn’t want to be left out in the cold when big decisions were to be taken.

The board responded with assurances that they not only wanted the man on the terrace to pitch in, they needed him.

That’s a good start.

It is, of course, just a start and there’s such along way to go to build a working relationship between the fans and the ‘powers that be’ at the club.

The in-fighting and name calling and recalling of historical mistakes has to be put to bed.

Worksop Town’s survival is more important than petty point scoring.

Add to this good start, a local MP in John Mann who is making the right noises – for a man currently up a mountain in South America – and who probably has enough clout to help get things moving in the right direction.

And a council leader who cleared his diary to sit with Mark Shaw on Wednesday and discuss the possibilities for Tigers, the Vesuvius project and the future of football in the town.

While I’m no cheerleader for any politician, and some will ask: “Can we trust them,” my response is this - do you have any other choice?

A community based, fan-driven football club will need the help of those who can grease wheels, secure pots of money and make contacts with the right people in the right industries.

The right people can salvage something from this mess – and it is a mess, there’s no shying away from that.

We were all guilty of enjoying the riches of the Jason Clark era, without asking what next?

There should have been a plan in place.

The NPL place should never have been resigned.

But the likes of Mark Shaw are stepping up and staking a claim to be the right people, in the right place at the right time for this club.

When has a football manager come up with a master plan for off the field regeneration?

Do coaches sit with politicians to dream up a way out of a financial nightmare?

I was with Mark when the bad news came through from the NPL, and after a minute or two of venting his frustration he was right back into the fray, demanding to know what could be done.

That fighting spirit, that will to find a path to take the club forward, is going to be vital in the days ahead.

The club has an opportunity, a challenge and an obligation to safeguard its history.

And I don’t believe any of the principal characters, whether they be in Tigers scarves on the supporters bus, club ties in the boardroom, tracksuits on the touchline, sat behind desks in political office, or in the Guardian newsroom, will let the world’s fourth oldest club die.

The present may look black, but the future is orange.