Duffers’ Diaries: Strength of Ilkeston fans’ feelings can’t be ignored

Action from Ilkeston v Whitby. Photo by Craig Lamont.
Action from Ilkeston v Whitby. Photo by Craig Lamont.

The piece I wrote last week detailing my belief that a big change is needed at Ilkeston FC with regard to their youth ethos generated plenty of interest.

The feedback I got was almost universally positive from Ilkeston fans, with a huge number agreeing with my stance.

I didn’t write it to get on their side, nor to annoy the hierarchy at Ilkeston FC, but the strength of feeling towards what is happening at the NMG right now couldn’t be ignored, likewise the fact that so many fans are discontented with what they’re seeing.

I spoke to Robins CEO Nigel Harrop too about it too as he rang me on Thursday, and whilst he obviously didn’t agree with my sentiments he wasn’t angry either, merely keen to explain that the ethos can, has and, as far as he is concerned, will work moving forward.

The chat I had with Harrop wasn’t officially on the record but he did say that once a few things have been sorted out, particularly the elusive Che Adams money being paid to Ilkeston, he would be keen to get a few things out in the open about what is happening at the club and he intimated he’d do that directly with fans, and not just through the press.

I hope that will be the case, as although Harrop admits he has thick skin and is taking the criticism he receives from fans on the chin, he claims to have a lot to say that may or may not appease supporters a little if they knew of a few facts. Time will tell on that.

In the meantime, whilst my view hasn’t changed that there needs to be a big change in how the ‘going young’ ethos is implemented given the current state of the first team, I’m sure most interested onlookers at the NMG would be fine with it continuing providing the first team doesn’t suffer in the way it is at the moment.

It’s now been announced Luke Foster has left the club and I fear Anton Brown and Rory Coleman, both experienced players, could follow to name but two.

If the Adams money arrives and the first team remains a side full of teenagers for the rest of the season, I struggle to see that the fans will buy into it unless those very players are pulling out wins most weeks, which despite an encouraging display against Whitby last weekend, I can’t see happening regularly enough.

As I’ve said before, it’s not that I think that money should be ploughed solely into the first-team and specifically to bankroll expensive and experienced players, but if a club with relatively good cash in the bank is fighting relegation with a squad full of teenagers, something isn’t right and it won’t go down well.

Anyway, attention now turns to Grantham’s visit on Saturday and if the Robins can add a bit more attacking threat to what was a far better display against Whitby, then three points could well be on their way.

It’ll also see a return to the NMG for Luke Shaw and Curtis Burrows, both players released by Ilkeston in the summer but who in the current situation would have had a lot to offer had they been kept on, given that by all accounts they’re doing well for the Robins’ old rivals. They’ll have a point to prove!