Season tickets are selling faster than ever before at St Andrew’s. Even despite prices increasing for the first time in eight seasons, there is undoubted excitement across the board.
Excitement at the fact that after eight seasons, there is something brewing. That something brewing might be small at the moment but we can all smell something good.
Eight years ago, it seemed as if the club would make a quick return to the Premier League, but seasons of mediocrity and false dawns have kept supporters largely absent from the stands.
Even the respectable campaigns under Garry Monk and Gary Rowett have not made fans scream as much as this coming season could.
There is such an expectation now with Lee Bowyer under the helm that he’ll know what to expect. Fans will feel safe and comfortable when they return to St Andrew’s. Not because of the COVID restrictions but because of the fact that the dark clouds are fading away at the club. No more Dong as the obscurity starts to lessen.
One poisoned chalice out of the door as it opens for someone else to tie the knots together. Fans know that there will be more of an air of certainty when watching the team next season. Knowing that there is more control over proceedings with the maverick not able to turn the tide.
Season ticket price increases are not the most convenient especially after the brunt of the pandemic but the club want some sustainable income from gate receipts next season and it’s clear that fans are supporting the club in this sense. Willing to help them because there is increasing stability and willing to help them because they want to sacrifice their hard-earned finances for a good reason.
The Category One Status awarded to the club for their work with the youth set-up came moments after the U23s were crowned PDL National Champions. Now that will start to end the uncertainty around the club’s dealings with the youth.
At the end of a hard-fought and rocky season this was a nice reward and fans will want to see some talented youth break through. Football is essentially about people and if fans aren’t there to see the fruitions of the increasing status of the club’s academy and the gradual stability, then there is simply no point.
Fans want a bite of the cherry and now it is our opportunity to repay the club and get on board with the process. It’s a healing process but more good has happened in the past week than in the past four years. There is no doubt that there will be slip ups along the way but there seems to be direction right now. There is a seriousness about trying to improve the academy and recruiting top talent across the country. To become only the twenty-seventh team to have earnt Category One Status is a milestone that was unforeseeable a few months ago, but things can now happen in the background that couldn’t when Dong was here still stinking the place.
Bowyer was a successful youth player himself, bursting onto the scene with Charlton Athletic and having an even better spell at Leeds, so he’ll be able to blood the young kids into the first team set-up. The fact that there is whole-hearted commitment with overseeing the development of the youth shows that the club want to start again and from scratch. With the situation at boardroom starting to ease itself out, there is no better time to make amends and this will only get more fans talking and more fans willing to be part of the club once more.
It feels weird that there is all this positivity after a rollercoaster of a season, but with time to review and reflect, it seems that the board are gradually getting their act together, realising that with supporters coming back in numbers for the new campaign there will be an automatic sense of expectation with them not having seen their team in fourteen months.
There is something to cheer about at last and the excitement is growing. Let’s see where we can end up.