From the outset last season we had one objective; to not be a Conference team at the end of the season. Well, check that one because next season we won’t be in the Conference, we’ll be in the Blue Square Premier. You could lop Under 9s on the end of that title and it wouldn’t look out of place.
Why the re-brand? Is this a ‘Whole New Ball Game’ like the original Premier League? All rock music, sharp cutaways and cheerleaders who look increasingly uncomfortable as the winter draws in before disappearing completely.
In short, no. This is part of a re-branding to satisfy paranoid marketing men at Blue Square and Setanta (who have bought the TV rights for 2008/9). They don’t want to be associated with a downgrade league and rubbish football.
But that’s the point, that is the brand, not defined by marketing men, but by football fans and natural law. It depends on your club, but the Conference is not an aspirant league, it is a holding position. Newly promoted clubs might consider it an achievement to attain Conference status, but they quickly realise that the lure of the Football League is but a good season and half decent striker away.
The joy and trauma at this level, is the promise of League football; so near and so far. There’s nothing ‘primary’ about it – it should not be considered a premier anything. What’s more, fans at this level aren’t stupid – there is precious little positive spin at Conference level – it is practically impossible to fool anyone into thinking that you are going to get much more benefit from attending a game than fresh air and a pint before the game. It’s the idiots like us with a morbid dedication to their club that weedle anymore positives from attending a game.
If anything, it is divisive, in that it widens the gap between League status and the non-league . A resignation that the gap cannot be bridged so we create a low rent, low price ‘Premier League’ of our own. Perhaps most worrying is that if this is a simple mirror of the big boys, we’re probably Newcastle.