As some of you may know, recently our other founding Co-Chair, Ron Parsons, left the organisation to work full time for the Football Club. I couldn’t let that pass without some well deserved words of tribute and thanks- and thought I’d give you a little Alliance history lesson as well!
Last autumn Ron and I were asked to a meeting with Dave Pottinger at the football club. Ron was the chair of the Supporters Club, I was chair of the Devils Trust, and as you will probably be aware, the two organisations had not always seen eye to eye. However from the first time we met Ron and I (although I’d admit to the occasional argument!) got on, as we were both focused on how our work could benefit the football club and the community. I recall that Ron’s first comment to me, whilst I was giving out DT Newsletters by the West Stand Turnstiles, was “Why aren’t we working together? We all want the same thing, surely”? Well those words were music to my ears. I remember his handshake too. Broke four of my fingers!
At this point I could say that the rest is history. Dave Pottinger’s brief was to ask the two of us-on behalf of Bruce Winfield- whether our two organisations could ever become one, and here we are. Simples! But in truth it has been a saga of almost epic proportions, if sandwiched into a relatively short time period. I was perhaps lucky in that most of my committee accepted the idea very quickly, and generally with few reservations. Mind you, I had been nagging them about creating closer links with the SC for many months, and they probably agreed just to shut me up! But the Devils Trust was still a relatively young organisation. The Supporters Club had been around for a considerably longer time. Ron’s Committee weren’t as universally supportive as mine had been- after all, they probably felt they had more to give up. So Ron had a fight on his hands, and the fact that the Alliance now exists and harmony has broken out should demonstrate quite what a fight he put up. That the union was achieved is testament to his powers of persuasion, his passion for the football club and the community and his wish to do the right thing for both.
Back in April we sent out a joint communication to all of our members where we asked whether they would support a new organisation. The response was almost universally positive. But even at that point Ron was still having to convince some members of his committee that this was a good idea. And he had the SC AGM on the horizon- a month before the DT AGM. The work we both had to do was onerous, though we both had much help, but his life was far more stressful than mine and his timescales far tighter- if he got this wrong and SC members voted against the proposals the idea would be dead in the water. But, as you know, he didn’t get it wrong, he sold the proposal positively and with conviction, and the SC membership supported him overwhelmingly. A month later Devils Trust members followed the lead of the SC, and the new organisation launched two days later.
Since that point Ron and I have worked so closely together that we’ve almost become joined at the hip. We’ve had heated debates, hearty laughs, and the occasional disagreement, but we’ve always managed to find common ground. As Co-Chairs we’ve worked with our interim committee to make decisions about the direction of the organisation, to plan, to cope with the incredible amounts of administration that have needed to be done, to develop contacts and make practical arrangements. Almost half of my mobile phone bill is made up of calls to his number. And now he’s abandoning us to go and work for the football club, the swine!
The Alliance’s loss is the football club’s gain, and as we support the football club, I suppose this should balance out in a roundabout sort of way. Steve Leake has stepped into Ron’s post as Co-Chair, and Steve, as I’m sure you know, is admirably capable and qualified for the role. But personally I feel a little bereft. So, Ron, if you’ve managed to suppress your embarrassment long enough to read this, I’d like to say a big thank you from myself and the rest of the committee. We wouldn’t be here without you, and we’ll do our level best to deliver the aims and objectives which we agreed. Not least because we know you’ll be round to complain if we get it wrong! Take good care of yourself, and the best of luck.