31 days in January - perhaps a good title for a book.
But if not, it’s the start and finish point for this week’s diary.
Lots of normal day to day things obviously happen at the Club, and this week there have been meetings with a potential school partnership for interns, as well as an excellent meeting with Council Executives. A programme of works has also got underway, starting with a dressing room refurbishment, given that we’re not back in action at the Crown Oil Arena until a week today.
But the main activity in January has been the transfer window. The window operates to the benefit of, or the detriment to, all clubs in the EFL and Premier League. It allows Clubs to review the season to date in terms of performances, results and squads. Is it fair? Well, it’s part of the rules of the league we play in, and my opinions on that will no doubt be covered in another diary. But what I can say is, that whilst we are operating in the same division as a Club who spent £4 Million on one player, it does bring excitement and enthusiasm to all.
The window was the busiest ever at Dale, with 8 players out, if I include James Finnerty who left the Club in December, and 8 in, including Jimmy Keohane who signed on the dotted line on Friday. So, yes, busy!
All the deals involve lots of phone calls, lots of negotiation, emails, listening to all parties’ point of view and a mountain of form filling for the FA /EFL. At the end of the day we are talking about human beings and players, of course, have feelings, but they do get passed at times from pillar to post. They can be on their way to one Club, only to have to do a U-turn and travel 200 miles to another Club, like we saw in the case of Ryan McLaughlin.
We, at Dale, always try to be a friendly welcoming Club, even at 10pm at night when a player and representative come in for a medical. And it’s something we have done this throughout the process, with the Manager, the Physio, the Media Team, the Club Secretary and myself all being present at every occasion. Nothing rests until the player that has been recruited or departed is registered with the FA/EFL, so a huge amount of effort by all.
I have smiled, laughed, cried and been intrigued by some of the rumours that circulate around prospective transfers (in and out), but what I will say again is that Dale conduct all areas professionally. One thing we do as a Club is have belief in our players who give great service and when opportunities come along that can be career defining for a player, we recognise previous service, and despite sometimes knowing the negatives, we allow players the opportunity.
We have, as a Club, brought players in to complement an already good squad, players who want to play for RAFC and are ready for the fight. Today at Walsall sees the start of our last 8 away and 8 home games, as we strive to move up the League One table, so thanks in advance to all the supporters travelling today and all those who will follow on social media, get behind the team as you always do. And thanks also to those who, despite the snow, braved the weather to come to the ground this week to book coach tickets for today or buy match tickets.
I’d like to finish by mentioning a young fan I met this week called Harrison. It was fantastic to see the joy on his face when talking to him about Dale and his favourite players.
Have a great weekend.
UP THE DALE!