The 2014/15 football season certainly won’t linger long in the memory of Sutton United fans. The best thing we can do is consign it to the dustbin of history and move on.
However, there’s plenty to look forward to.
Next season promises to be highly competitive with practically half the teams in National South having legitimate title hopes.
Sutton will find it tough, but some shrewd signings by much-loved boss, Paul Doswell, should only enhance the chances of what was already a talented squad, even if they didn’t show it last term.
As well as the team, the club itself is making great strides off the field by installing a 3G pitch and sharing the facility with new tenants Sutton Common Rovers and AFC Wimbledon ladies, as well as the wider community.
They’re even reviving passions for the club in Sutton’s townsfolk with an impressive marketing campaign of its extremely generous season ticket offer.
Yes, it’s all going on. If only the last part were true, though.
For the most part, Suttonians are only really passionate about three things – Poundland, Primark and pukka tukka from Greggs.
I don’t wan’t to put a dampener on things, but I was eavesdropping in on a conversation between one of the rarest life forms on the planet – a fellow Sutton fan – and one of the most common, a London-based Manchester United fan.
The latter clearly knew a lot about the Premier League and it’s assortment of over-paid and over-hyped heroes.
After a couple of minutes of rather dull Premier League patter he was keen to ask the Sutton fan what he thought about the Raheem Sterling situation (a long-running transfer sage which eventually saw him sold from Liverpool to Manchester City for £49million).
‘How dull’, I thought.
I have one clearcut opinion of a stroppy 20-year-old lad who earns untold thousands of pounds a week and who, according to his agent, would not sign a new deal at Liverpool ‘even if it was for £900,000 a week.’
He’s a berk, to put it mildly.
I find the circus surrounding some of our so-called stars a complete yawnfest.
When Sterling was born in 1994, I’d seen my 20th year come and go and, through no fault of my own, was unemployed. The only people scrambling for my signature were the people at the Job Centre.
I’d have been happy with three less zeros on my dole money. Even£90 a week would have been a welcome cash boost at that point.
Sterling may well have some valid reasons for wanting a move away from Anfield, but I have a short attention span for such spoilt brats.
As you would expect, conversation flowed while the United fan was in his comfort zone – talking about England’s top teams and players – but it hit the buffers when attentions turned to the country’s sixth tier, where the Amber and Chocolates currently dwell.
The United fan shamelessly happened to mention that he has lived just a short walk from our Gander Green Lane home for ten years but has yet to see a match.
That, in a nutshell, is what the club is dealing with.
The nature of the fickle floating football fan is such that they might find themselves lured away from the gates of Gander Green Lane by any number of other attractions.
There’s the promise of a basket of cheap tat from Poundland, a bounty of booze at Wetherspoons or a new trowell and some gardening gloves from Robert Dyas.
There’s even the prospect of having your mobile phone unlocked at any one of a number of outlets with attractive colourful flashing lights in the window advertising such a service.
Basically, the townsfolk would rather do anything than come and watch our club.
Yes, it’s hard to argue with the wonderful variety of classy boutiques, bistros and brasseries along Sutton’s quaint and charming High Street of a Saturday.
Despite offering season tickets at wonderful, knockdown prices and hosting pay-what-you-like and even free entry to matches on occasions, it seems you just can’t beat apathy.
For some people, even the prospect of a free match isn’t enough, especially if the end product leaves a lot to be desired. Let’s be honest, the standard of the Conference South, even on a good day, isn’t particularly pleasing on the eye.
I can only offer the highest praise to the volunteers, the board and Paul Doswell for what they’re trying to do to get new blood through the turnstiles at Gander Green Lane.
However, the best way of getting people to matches on a regular basis is to have a winning team, playing attractive football.
The first five or six home games of next season will be crucial to hooking potential new fans, otherwise all the hard work that has going into the marketing aspect of the whole thing over the last few months could be wasted.
That said, we must face the reality that many people wouldn’t attend a match at our club, even if you paid them.