NEWS: Our Beloved Saints


Better Times
By HR Saints Fan
December 11 2017

First of all, my apologies for not posting for some time, and in particular for not writing any previews for ages. To be honest, I just didn’t know what to say as we approached each game this season on the back of a dire performance from the previous game. I also would like to apologise to the Editors as this has meant that they now have to post the “Teams up” as a News Item in order to keep the site running. I will try and do better I promise. 

And I need to say that I am not a current Season Ticket holder having decided not to renew my ticket for this season, and the last – primarily for personal reasons that my wife and I were unable to get to the games as regularly as we would have liked. Nevertheless, having been a ST holder from 2000 to 2016 (and a supporter before that) I will never stop following the Saints, and I still miss watching the games live (watching the game on TV from behind the couch is nowhere near as fun) and reading all that I can about the team. 

So, when I was offered the opportunity to come and see Saints play Ospreys on Saturday night - despite the recent dreadful run of results - I was really looking forward to my return to Franklin’s Gardens after quite an absence. Suffice it to say that I have never left that ground feeling so dejected and miserable as I did on Saturday evening. 

As I got to the stadium I wondered where everyone was. I peered into the bars which had hardly anyone in them, and there was no buzz or atmosphere at all in the Village area. And inside the stadium it was even worse. Perhaps it was the late kick off time, or the relative nearness to Christmas that was affecting the turnout – but then we have always had European Champion Cup rugby games at this time of year, so that couldn’t be it. I thought that maybe a lot of people would be arriving over the 20 minutes or so before the game started, but there was only a relatively small trickle of supporters who made their way to a seat. 

As I settled down to watch the game and glanced around at the myriad of empty seats staring back at me, my mind wandered to a mild May evening only 3 and a half years ago, when Tom Wood went over the whitewash to clinch a famous Premiership semi-final victory against Leicester Tigers. The reason I recalled that game was that in my time as a Season Ticket holder (short I know compared with many who read and contribute to this forum) that was the best atmosphere I have ever experienced at Franklins Gardens. Apparently 13,591 people attended that game, which means we got an extra 91 people squeezed in somewhere. Attendance on Saturday evening was 8,105. So not only were we short by almost 5,500 people from that wonderful May evening, but also over 7,100 short of the full capacity of the ground. The average attendance this year has been 13,316 (for Premiership games). So, despite increasing the capacity of the ground in 2015, we are still not getting people coming to the home games (although we have had a capacity attendance at the fixtures against Tigers and Wasps apparently). 

Sadly, the attendance on Saturday night left a tepid and lack-lustre atmosphere which was, unfortunately, matched by the performance of the players for 60 minutes by which time the game was effectively over. Much has been said about the game, and I am not going to waste everyone’s time with my thoughts because I really can’t add anything meaningful to that discussion. 

But one thing I can say with great certainty is that there is something very, very wrong with Northampton Saints Rugby Football Club. 

Whether it is the coaching team (of whom much has been said both in this forum and elsewhere) or the players, or the overall set-up, or the board, is hard to say from the outside. People will rightly argue that supporters support – no matter what the team is going through. And that is correct and there will always be a wonderful hard-core of Saints supporters who will attend home (and away) games regardless of the performance of the team. But in these commercial days, there is another side to that particular equation, and that is that people are not going to give up their hard-earned money to watch the sort of rugby that Saints produced on Saturday, especially given the financial pressure that that hard-earned money is coming under in these uncertain times. 

I really wish that I had a solution. I wish that I knew exactly what the problem was, and that I also had the wherewithal to fix it. At the moment, the best analogy I can come up with is that Saints is like a very ill individual on the table in an operating theatre and all the surgeons and specialists are scratching their heads and wondering what the problem is so that they can actually operate. 

The players and coaches must be hurting, and one would hope the board is too, because the fans certainly are. There is also no doubt that this cannot continue. Many on this forum would point to the fact that Saturday’s result is not a one-off, but is a sure sign of a slow but certain decline that has been taking place for some time; indeed, the results from the current season, and the two before that lend considerable weight to that view (2014/5 – Finished 1st and only lost 5 games, 2015/16 finished 5th and lost 10, 2016/17 finished 7th and lost 12 and the current 2017/18 season currently sitting 10th having lost 6 games out of 10 played). 

There have been changes to the squad, and I for one had quite high hopes about the new influx of players – but they too seem to have been affected by the ‘illness’ that seems to pervade and effect everyone and everything to do with Northampton Saints Rugby Football Club. Is there a cure? Well we all must hope so, but if no action is taken to operate (using my analogy), and taken soon, then I fear that this particular patient will continue to get worse. 

When considering this sort of problem, the inspired words of Einstein come to mind when he said that “a form of insanity is doing the same thing time and time again, and expecting different results”. There is talk from the players and coaches of the hard work that is needed to turn this around – and I have no doubt that this is exactly what will be done - but I don’t think that hard work is going to be the solution in this instance. To push my analogy once again, you don’t ask a sick patient to get up off the operating table and do some sit-ups to get better – you operate, remove and/or repair the problem, and then get the patient to work hard to get to a full recovery. 

Is there anyone at Saints with a scalpel? If there is, do they know what needs doing? I don’t know but for the sake of the club, and to ensure that there are no more evenings like the one last Saturday, we have all got to hope so.

pqs: qs:
Our Beloved Saints
Posted by: Marching On (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 11:50

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Re: Our beloved Saints
Posted by: Longers (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 10:47

Nicely written, as always, HRsaints fan

Re: Our beloved Saints
Posted by: brancastersaint (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 10:55

Excellent post, i feel very much the same, why spend a lot of ££ on tickets, and the travel from Norfolk when the we get performances such as we have been getting
it's almost (and I'm sorry for the wendyball link) as to what happened to Jose Mourinho when he returned to Chelsea, a very long and painful period when it was very apparent he'd lost the dressing room, which I feel JM has.
totally agree that drastic action is needed as the, recruitment and financial consequences if this continue are serious.
lord only knows what Dan Biggar who was working for Sky on saturday nght was thinking.

Re: Our beloved Saints
Posted by: Dallysaint (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 10:59

Great post HRsaints fan.
The sad feeling around the ground is having a big effect on every fan and it certainly shows on this forum now with some of the comments being made towards each other now.
Surely now is the time for us to pull together and if need be collectively make our voices heard. We are all on this forum for the same reason, because we all have an interest in the club however big or small.

Re: Our beloved Saints
Posted by: BerniesBestFriend (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 11:00

Very good piece - maybe should be an "article" eds?

Re: Our beloved Saints
Posted by: Saint Ted (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 11:03

Good point Bernie, beautifully written as always HR, when I'm back home if it's OKwith you HRI'll make this into an articel

Re: Our beloved Saints
Posted by: Covbryan (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 11:03

Summed up brilliantly HR saint.
Very nearly all the things many many fans have been saying for a very very long time put into one excellent thread.
Well done.

Re: Our beloved Saints
Posted by: HRsaints fan (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 11:09

Saint Ted - yes that would be fine. Cheers

Re: Our beloved Saints
Posted by: Bob Stainsby (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 11:14

A poignant well witten sumation of mine amd many others feelings welcome back HR

Re: Our beloved Saints
Posted by: Mobbs (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 11:31

I think that this is the best and certainly most balanced article I have seen for a very long time. We are fast becoming a laughing stock as a team and as a club with the press now circling the Gardens like vultures looking for easy headlines. Whilst I never take anything that Stuart Barnes says or writes, too seriously, his latest diatribe is symptomatic of where we are at the moment - why does he dislike Saints quite so much ?

If I may make a similar analogy to HR for a moment; we have slowed, we have stalled and have now gone past an incipient spin to a fully developed one with the ground coming up very quickly indeed. Taking hands off the controls will not induce a recovery, only prompt and drastic action will prevent the inevitable.

I don't know if the players and coaches ever read this stuff ( add the media dept and Board to that..) but to put it simply 'failure is not an option'

Well done HR

Re: Our beloved Saints
Posted by: Saint Kris (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 11:31

Most well thought through post I've seen in a long time.

Re: Our beloved Saints
Posted by: OldPete (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 11:44

Well written and most appropriate HR -sums up my feelings too . - but I do wonder how many well written and heart felt posts or articles are needed to have any effect.

Re: Our Beloved Saints
Posted by: NewAdvent (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 12:22

Having read this I felt I should just say 'I feel this too' just to have a voice should someone from the club stumble accross this article instead of apparently blindly ignoring our concerns (Truthfully I don't think they ignoring it, but as of yet nothing is being acknoledged).

I was a Season ticket holder for 10 years up to 2012, I too had to give that up for personal reasons, and every game was a struggle to watch knowing I wasn't there. I wasn't there at that fateful May match against Tigers where we won against all odds in the second half with a masterful rally. I wasn't even watching - I was busy having an evening with my now Wife - but I remember checking my phone refreshing saintslive every 5 seconds to find out what had happened, finally letting out an audable yell when reading the word "TRRYYYYYYYYYY!". I was at the final though, I wouldn't have missed that for the world and I had pre-purchased tickets at christmas full in the belief we'd be there.

So for the season after that I watched on TV wishing I was there and we finished top, but as I watched the decline I lost so much faith. I no longer wish I was at Franklins Gardens, I'm glad I'm not there. I want to support the team, and even though my finiancial circumstances have changed I simply can't justify the expense of a day at the Gardens full of disappointment and hurt.

I'm not one of these people who actively wants Jim to go, I think it could work in the long term, but he's given us so much up to the last couple of years it's hard to think he would not be as upset and frustrated by this situation as the supporters are - if not more.

I don't know enough about the game to say what the solution is, but I know something must have to change, you don't go from being a top of the table side to relegation fodder in under 3 seasons without there being a fundemental problem within the camp. I just hope the club can find a solution to stopping this rot from engulfing the club and it happens before we're having to climb out of a very competitve Championship again.

Re: Our Beloved Saints
Posted by: Casual Saint (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 12:34

Excellent article HR Saints Fan. Very eloquently sums up what a lot of us feel. I want to go to the Gardens and feel excited. I want the club to turn around, I hope that action is taken soon.

Once a scrum half .... always a scrum half

Re: Our Beloved Saints
Posted by: St. Andy (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 13:03

Excellent post, I have read pretty much everything that has been written on here.I have 3 season tickets and was there Friday night.The crowd number, I think was even worse than is suggested. The number given suggests the ground was half full. I paid great attention to it and it was maximum 40%. I can only assume ST holders who didn't show up were counted.

I noticed the directors seats, which is right by me was empty, completely empty. They may well have stayed in the box at the back, if they did, they weren't watching as nobody was at the window. Whatever a poor show. We had to sit in the cold.

I follow other sports closely, football mostly and I would never advocate the sacking culture that has grown up there. That said I firmly believe that each managerial set up in sport has a shelf life, which will eventually run out. Even Brian Clough who was probably the nearest to a managerial genius ever in football ended his career in failure. His time had passed.I think perhaps that time has come at Saints. It does not diminish past triumphs but the game moves on.

As for the atmosphere, I again agree, that it is far worse than it was in the past relegation times. Then, as I recall, there was a sense of all being in it together, the players would appear in the bar after games, Bruce Reihana gave a speech on the pitch. I remember walking out after the final game with some optimism.

The club has moved on and that's fine as long as things work. We seldom see the players up close, the whole thing has become much more commercial, selling hospitality and access at top dollar, pricing many out.A new stand has been built and must be paid for.
I think it is clear the place has much less of a club feel and those who might have been seen as supporters now feel and are treated as customers with almost endless retail opportunities but very highly priced. I understand it is a tough balance to strike, the club needs to get money in to finance all the things which need paying for.Even ticket prices are sky high.

Because people are now treated like customers and have come to feel like customers, you can hardly be surprised when they act like customers. they are not coming because they do not like the product or the price they are being asked to pay for it. The most fundamental requirement to make the model work is an at least competitive team on the pitch. Quite how we achieve that from this position I sadly don't know.

Re: Our Beloved Saints
Posted by: Robby Richmond (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 13:39

Thereís a difference between involvement and commitment.

If weíre merely Ďinvolvedí in something then we donít have to give it our all. If it fails, itís not the end of the world.


But if weíre Ďcommittedí thatís a different matter. Then it really is do or die.



Itís very important to know the difference. And be honest with ourselves.

hereís an old saying about the difference between involvement and commitment. Itís like ham and eggs. In ham and eggs the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed.




Ricky Ponting, the former Australian cricket captain once said:

ďWhen a great team loses we look for things we can change. When an average team loses they look for excuses.Ē

Re: Our beloved Saints
Posted by: stjj (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 14:14

Well said

Re: Our Beloved Saints
Posted by: HammerSaint (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 14:16

Brilliant post HR.

My feeling is we have the players bar one or two, but management that are in a rut and the the key member of the board who is at an age and in poor health where unfortunately, it is too much hard work to change. My feeling is unless we have a new enthusiastic investor as Chairman mediocrity prevails.

I can't help thinking the junior members of the board's complanceny stems from a lack of awareness of the deep ingrained feeling of disatisfaction, is there a way the members of this site request a face to face forum with the management and the board with an agreed agenda to be decided by forum members? Or an online petition for coaching changes to be made? I'm really sad it's come to this as Jim especially has provided me and my wife, great memories that will last forever.

Re: Our Beloved Saints
Posted by: Duckonstilts (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 14:41

On the plus side, great writing HR and a lot of good comments sparked by it.

On the down side, its a shame its taken such a dire situation to spark it. If only we had something positive to talk about :-(

I will continue to support Saint for as long as i can imagine, but I cant be sure I will keep inflicting it on the kids, and like at the weekend its becoming easier to forget we are playing when making plans elsewhere.

We could well be in the situation where we get better gates for the Anglo Welsh than for European cup matches. Thats a worry.

Re: Our Beloved Saints
Posted by: Mobbs (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 14:49

Hammer

You may or not be aware that a few years ago, a group was formed known as the Saints Supporters Liaison Group comprising reps from Season Ticket Holders, SSC and COYS. The basic idea was to give supporters a voice and discuss issues with the management of the club. We met with Ella Barwell ( director ), Chris Wearmouth ( Comms ) and Brian Facer ( finance ) along with other occasional visitors such as the stadium manager and the boss of StubHub. The over-riding aim was to improve the supporters lot rather than discuss team selection but a lot of vicarious information was gleaned from both sides of the table.

This group has apparently died a lingering death due to the disinterest of the Board and I would suggest it is symptomatic of the lack of connection which was all too apparent at the recent season ticket holders forum.

As a retired old f**t myself I would challenge either the Chairman or CEO ( both ?) to sit down for a couple of hours and answer some hard questions in a small room about the future of the club with no holds barred and nothing out of bounds, then report back. Unrealistic....of course, pompous....maybe, concerned....most definitely.............do it myself if you like !

Re: Our Beloved Saints
Posted by: Duckonstilts (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 14:49

Perhaps its time to resurrect the below:

Saints-SOS

I remember how bad we all thought things were then, amazing to think where we went from that point onwards.

Re: Our Beloved Saints
Posted by: Deesaint (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 15:38

Well written and undoubtedly echoes the feelings of many Saints supporters.
There has been a creeping feeling of frustration for many over the past three seasons.
That feeling of frustration has been fanned by apparent lack of change within the club; either through coaching, game plan, Board etc.
We desperately need someone from the club who can communicate/engage the supporters with a realistic plan of action that we can all buy into that shows how the decline will be reversed. That is if anyone at the club has a plan.

Re: Our Beloved Saints
Posted by: Flook (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 15:59

Fine post indeed.

Brave words from Mobbs

Quote:
As a retired old f**t myself I would challenge either the Chairman or CEO ( both ?) to sit down for a couple of hours and answer some hard questions in a small room about the future of the club with no holds barred and nothing out of bounds, then report back. Unrealistic....of course, pompous....maybe, concerned....most definitely.............do it myself if you like !

I feel you would need a very large room though, for all interested parties (not just STH with bribes of beer and pies!) to speak and hear responses.

However I can't see the club ever agreeing.

Re: Our Beloved Saints
Posted by: Mobbs (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 16:46

Flook

We've tried the forum idea and it simply does not work. If you ever watch Hard Talk on BBC World, one on one......that is the scenario I have in mind. It will never happen because.....well, just because !

Re: Our Beloved Saints
Posted by: Duckonstilts (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 16:49

Perhaps someone on the board would be brave enough to go on the Saints Show on Radio Northampton. Thats what the media is for after all.

Re: Our Beloved Saints
Posted by: tedge (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 16:53

Are shareholders entitled to call an extraordinary general meeting ?

Re: Our Beloved Saints
Posted by: StBleach (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 17:22

Beautifully written and such a thoughtful piece. I think your comment " do they know what needs doing " probably sums up the problem. There are major cash implications in shaking up the coaching team, there are cash implications for not having bums on seats, there are cash implications for lack of success on the field... unless there is a massive injection of cash things will not improve in the short term. Sad for the loyal supporters and sad for us exiled distant observers..

Re: Our Beloved Saints
Posted by: Brackleysaint (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 17:55

A major worry is do the majority shareholders have enough cash to inject in to the club to take action if needed because the value of their stock must be falling dramatically.

Re: Our Beloved Saints
Posted by: smitferbrainz (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 19:11

Excellent post. Into the post oblivion like all the rest. I've placed my thoughts into the club via the "offy" page, contact us. Maybe more of us should do it. I did it because others have and suggested it. Will it change anything? Doubt it but if enough do it you never know.

Re: Our Beloved Saints
Posted by: Longers (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 19:32

Quote:
smitferbrainz
Excellent post. Into the post oblivion like all the rest. I've placed my thoughts into the club via the "offy" page, contact us. Maybe more of us should do it. I did it because others have and suggested it. Will it change anything? Doubt it but if enough do it you never know.

Well done. If we choose not to "Get in touch" we are complicit in the failure.

We get in touch, we have done as much as we can to put our point across.

Re: Our Beloved Saints
Posted by: OldPete (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 19:54

before the days of social media there were other ways of getting your point across.

But they require organisation and no little commitment.

We pride ourselves on being gentlemanly etc but sometimes one just has to be a bit rough to be heard.

Re: Our Beloved Saints
Posted by: fair_weather_fan (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 20:51

When the club shut down the old message board they shut down a direct line of communication. The sslg is designed to be a we tell them forum. Longer veg was the sign of seasons end. And there was a know it all on there too

Personally I think calling an EGM which might well be within shareholders rights to do. On pitch performance and accountability for it the only item.

Re: Our Beloved Saints
Posted by: Saintalex (IP Logged)
Date: 11/12/2017 23:02

We donít know anything really, we donít know that the board arenít lining up a replacement for next season. We donít know that they havenít already appointed a DOR for next season. My understanding is, the West rumour isnít true, I think it was all wishful thinking on all our parts. I feel for Jim. Itís not nice to see the pain and anguish in his face. But he should do the right thing. He apparently offered his resignation the season before last season and the board refused it. Says it all really. A certain ex Saints legend was here and been offered the job and been accepted, only if certain coaching staff were to go. The board refused and the rest is history, that certain person is now in the south west of England. The board only have themselves to blame. Next season will show, less money whilst playing on the lesser of the European competitions. Less money. I wonder if the Season tickets will go up??? Probably. I have sent my get in touch, nothing will get done, although Mr Wearmouth did respond fairly quickly the last time I emailed my disgust after the Leinster game last season. When Dylan came on and got sent off after about 5 minutes



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2017:12:12:22:28:47 by Saintalex.

Re: Our Beloved Saints
Posted by: inaruck (IP Logged)
Date: 13/12/2017 04:41

Maybe I am missing something but as far as I can tell, the article doesn't say very much at all. Basically, "there's a problem and I don't know what it is." Which is a bit like pointing out that the emperor is naked, particularly when the writer implicitly answers his own question anyway.


The problem(s)? Well, when you add 2,000 seats and don't sell them, that's a problem on many levels. The atmosphere dissipates inside the ground and the club doesn't receive income it's probably budgeted for (otherwise, presumably they wouldn't have built the seats in the first place). These might not be life or death problems but show me capital expenditure and I'll show you pressure on a coach to win games and put bums on seats. After the stand was completed, at precisely the moment JM needed to push on, the opposite happened.

And what about JM himself? Judging by Corbs' comments today, the fact that a large portion of the squad were increasingly disenchanted with the coaching (and have been for some time), you'd like to think that the board didn't suddenly wake up after last weekend and realise a change needed to be made. I like Jim and appreciate all he's done over the past decade but it's pretty obvious that over the last three years at best things have gone stale and at worse they've gone into reverse. Does anyone seriously think the coaching team hasn't been a problem? Not judging from the past few months posts on this board. I mean, the writer saw the first sixty minutes last weekend first-hand. Did he think that sort of performance wasn't an obvious problem? Did we look well coached?

And as for recruiting, how many incomers have delivered in recent seasons? Early in Jim's tenure low(ish)-profile recruits like James Downey, Lee Dixon, Juandre Kruger et al delivered results and showed real passion. James Downey or George North? I know who I'll remember more fondly in a Saints shirt. I get the sense that the sort of player we're now recruiting is driven by the 2,000 empty new seats, not by the sort of personalities and experience you need to win the AP.

Reading this board tonight, some of the posts leave me speechless. "Build a Statue for Jim"...really? "Discussing the next DOR is classless on the day Jim leaves" (from people who've been calling for his head while he still had the job). If the board knew what they were doing, they'd have been discussing this subject for some time now, and would have a replacement lined up (indeed, this may well be case.)

The problems are obvious. So are the solutions: Bigger crowds, better coaching, more success on the pitch. Of course, it's executing those things that's difficult but this is where we get to say just how competent the board is. It's their job to right the ship, something they've signally failed to do for at least twenty four months now. And that's another problem.

Re: Our Beloved Saints
Posted by: SaintsAsh (IP Logged)
Date: 13/12/2017 07:51

People are people, players are players and such are always going to question the way things are done or think things can be done better. Sometimes you have to cut the rot out to stop this and of course show people you care and listen. I think the latter may have been okay as it seems like loyalty was shown. Maybe players that felt they should be in the team saw loyalty as favouritism?

We will never know but these kinds of issues are ever present for us managers. You can be running a great ship one minute then the wrong person comes in and upsets it all, I would imagine that with contracts it would be hard to get rid of such people.

Anyway none of us know what the problem is, so we should probably stop guessing and just get behind the team.

Re: Our Beloved Saints
Posted by: Stockers (IP Logged)
Date: 13/12/2017 08:21

History repeating itself.

I well remember a very eloquent open letter to Keith Barwell written by Mark Hazell and published on this forum asking for KB to do something, anything, to stop the rapid decline of the Club under Alan Solomons.

Within days the axe fell.

Re: Our Beloved Saints
Posted by: Casual Saint (IP Logged)
Date: 13/12/2017 08:26

Quote:
Stockers
History repeating itself.
I well remember a very eloquent open letter to Keith Barwell written by Mark Hazell and published on this forum asking for KB to do something, anything, to stop the rapid decline of the Club under Alan Solomons.

Within days the axe fell.

Although there was 2 more seasons of decline and mediocrity before things started to change. Let us hope the rebuilding can be quicker and sooner.

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