Thursday, November 19, 2020

As another season comes to a close, all eyes are once again on Waterford FC owner, Lee Power. Photos: Noel Browne & Inpho.

It was a most crazy end to a most crazy season as Waterford FC had to settle for fifth place in the SSE Airtricity Premier Division season after failing to pick a win in their final game against Finn Harps on Monday last. A loss that ended their European dream.

While it was a bitterly disappointing result at Ballybofey, with Adam Foley netting the winning goal, the powers that be running the club have since decided to lodge a complaint to that result, which looks destined not to go their way.

In truth, there should be no need for protests, complaints or appeals, because whilst you could claim that the team overachieved  amid the in-house issues, they could and maybe should have had a top three position sown up before the final day. Instead we’re now hoping beyond hope for an FAI decision to go our way.

It was madness that fans of the club could have even contemplated European football in 2021 come the final day in the first place considering the off field drama that resulted in three managers during the season with Fran Rockett’s determined final push for fourth coming up short.

After doing a brilliant job in assembling a squad from scratch in a few weeks before the start of the season, Alan Reynolds, left his role as Waterford FC manager in June.

FRIDAY THE 13TH

The season started like every other, manager Alan Reynolds left out in the cold regarding budgets and by the time things were finally given the thumbs up, it was a mad dash to bring in players, many from overseas that acquitted themselves well professionally until the bitter end.

Friday, March 13, proved to be unlucky for some as Covid-19 struck and after a period of three months of uncertainty, Reynolds was left with little choice to part company with the club, and with many players expected to follow, a last ditch FAI compensation package saved the club.

Lee Power’s son, Jack, who was the general manager also decided to return to the UK as players were left wondering what was going to happen next, but the promise of FAI money of €190,000, led to the club returning but only because Fran Rockett was convinced to remain on board.

With many players considering their future, Michael O’Connor and Scott Allardice decide to part ways, but the former returned once Rockett stayed on, and the UK based players came back amid Covid-19 restrictions to try firstly “keep the club” in the league, with anything else a bonus.

Well that’s what we all thought until Power’s move to appoint John Sheridan as manager. When I got wind of that story on a walk of the Industrial Estate on a Monday afternoon close to deadline that Sheridan was coming on board, the tide turned somewhat.

A win on the road against Shelbourne in Sheridan’s first game was just the tonic needed and when he decided to leave the club after victory away to Bohemian FC, the Blues were in a very good place despite dropping some needless points on the road to the likes of Dundalk FC and Sligo Rovers.

John Sheridan left the club in September after 65 days in the job.

CONTRACTS MESS

By the time Sheridan was out the door, I was gone as well. Excluded from the RSC for doing my job and not to damage the club’s reputation as was claimed. But I don’t want to dwell on that too much because I’m happy to get over it in the knowledge that I don’t hold any vindictive or personal agendas.

I’ve continued to support both Rockett and his players since then, which has been acknowledged, and it was their hard work and will to do well for our city and county that we all wanted them to get over the line in the race for the final European spot.

There’s no doubting that the club didn’t cover themselves in glory at in their handling of contract negotiations ahead of the final home game of the season against Dundalk, and as they continued to fight the continued demons from within, they gave it their all on the final day.

Speaking in recent days to the Waterford FC manager, it was obvious that he wanted to achieve Europe for the people of Waterford and the players wanted that also. Many of these players, instead of looking forward to next season with optimism, were on their way to the ports and airports to return home.

It hasn’t been plain sailing with Lee Power and his ownership of the club since the disappointment of losing out on Europe a couple of seasons ago, and following the whole Covid saga this year, Fran Rockett and his players so nearly delivered it once again.

There will now be a period of reflection for all concerned that’s for sure and whatever happens in the next month or two MUST have the future of football in Waterford to the forefront of all talks.  Whether that will include a possible takeover or whether that includes another Power cash injection, we’ll just have to wait and see…..

One of the highlights of the 2020 season was the long awaited return to the club of Daryl Murphy.

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By Adrian Flanagan
Contact Newsdesk: 051 874951

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