Crawley v Exeter 28th March 2016

God that was dreadful. The result (we lost 2-0 if you weren’t sure) was bad enough, but the overall performance was dire. Too many players not at the races meant that we made Exeter look way better than they were.

Mark Yates appeared to take the opportunity to put a few players in the shop window on Easter Monday. I fear though that on the performance of a couple of them, even a buy one get one free sign might not be enough.

I understand that whilst technically we are not yet completely, mathematically safe, we are effectively safe. The issue is though that if we have nothing to play for, then the fans in response will have nothing to pay for. Monday’s game was a perfect example of this. And for once a few of the fans were vocal in their displeasure.

The abuse directed at Simon Walton was unacceptable. Simon openly admitted on social media that Monday was not one of his best performances, but to be in receipt of abuse so bad that his brother and father felt compelled to leave the ground mid-game is inexcusable.

The other crowd flashpoint came from the West Stand of all places. Who knew that the Sanatogen had kicked in…? In our last home game Jimmy Dack turned and argued with somebody behind him. This week it was the turn of Mark Yates, I believe in the direction of perennial provocateur Paul Prendegast.

Now Paul and I haven’t always seen eye to eye, and I might not share his sense of humour (a fact I doubt that will keep him awake at night), but he is and has been for a long time, a paying customer at Crawley Town. For Mark to turn to Paul and demand that he (and others) get behind the team and be positive is both blinkered and naïve.

You don’t support Crawley Town FC because you’re going to see Premiership or La Liga standard football each week. You’re not going to travel the length and breadth of the country because you’re going to the best stadiums with capacity crowds and lavish hospitality. You support Crawley for your own, personal reasons. Usually something that sits deep inside you that’s hard to quantify. But you do it because you care and you love your club. The harsh truth for Mark is that if he gives us something to get behind, we will. On Monday he didn’t, to a terrible degree if I’m honest and he got the backlash that comes with a performance so lacking in commitment, skill and effort that he should hardly be surprised at the boos at the final whistle.

The two lessons for me that Mark should take from this are this:

  1. Don’t react to the crowd. This can’t be the first time he’s heard something unpleasant or derogatory from the stands. Suck it up and move on.
  2. If your own fans are deeply unhappy at what they are watching. Fans who have given significant hours and well earned money to the club over the years, then maybe you should take their criticism on board.

I really appreciate what Mark has achieved this season. With a minuscule budget, small squad, backroom changes and poor home support, a mid-League 2 finish is exceptional under the circumstances. But the season’s not over yet and the fans want to see it through to the end.

We all know that we need to increase the home gates. Another sub-2000 home attendance on Monday was as predictable as it was disappointing. But if we don’t use these last few games to show a bit of ambition and attack, then it’s going to be a long way in to next season before we manage to attract the floating support back.

In a few weeks time the club will be announcing the season ticket prices for next season. Wouldn’t it be great if the efforts off the field are matched with those on it to hopefully give us a springboard in to next season with the enthused, energised and supportive fanbase that this club both wants and needs.

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