Monday, May 26, 2014

Rod Petrie: Time's up

I'm not much of a letter writer. But events at Easter Road yesterday inspired an anger that could only be assuaged by a) downing a bottle of vodka and hurling the empty through a window at Easter Road or b) penning a note to Rod Petrie.

Football has damaged my liver quite enough though. And supporting a team shouldn't really lead to criminal proceedings. So letter writing seemed the sensible choice.

Of course, once I'd written the damn thing, I imagined Rodders sitting in his office, fingers gently fondling his mowser, deciding whether the incensed verbiage of the fans should be burnt or retained to make paper aeroplanes to throw at Stewart Regan during his next very, very important SFA committee meeting.

So I thought I'd just publish it on the blog instead:

Dear Rod

I note with interest your statement to Hibernian supporters. It seems that you feel you must remain involved as chairman to ensure a sound "transition" after promising that the "winds of change" would blow through the club this summer.

"Transition" is an interesting choice of word.

Because you have overseen our "transition" from a trophy winning side with an ambitious young manager into the shadow of a team that we saw yesterday.

And make no mistake, yesterday was not a one off. In fact it seemed horribly inevitable.

What other result could we expect from a club that now seems to embrace failure with agonising frequency?

The club that loses cup finals 5-1 to its oldest rivals, the club that paints a 3-0 defeat in a cup final as some sort of moral victory because it's not as bad as losing 5-1.

The club that loses 7-0 at home against a solid, if hardly world beating, Swedish side. The same club that led Scottish football into Europe, succumbing to a record defeat.

The club that, for fans of other teams across the country, has become a figure of fun.

Given your stolid demeanour in public it seems cruelly ironic that under your stewardship you've created the biggest joke in Scottish football.

It's true that we've got a fantastic stadium. One day in the future I hope we can fill it again.

It's true that we've got a fantastic training centre. One day in the future I hope we stumble across a recruitment policy that identifies players worthy of making the most of such facilities.

It's also true that we've avoided the dangers of financial mismanagement that cost Hearts dearly this season.

Unfortunately we couldn't take advantage of the safety net that their 15 point deduction offered us. And now we find ourselves facing Hearts in the second tier of Scottish football: Hibs reeling from the pain of such huge failure, Hearts champing at the bit to get the season started.

Throw in the psychological advantage that their recent superiority on the pitch has given them and it's completely understandable that some Hibs fans are dreading having to face them next season.

And this is perhaps your greatest failure. You built the infrastructure, you sat back and watched as first Rangers and then Hearts slipped into a financial morass. Surely this was the point where the budgeting and penny pinching came good. Surely this was to be our time.

Instead, faced with your greatest opportunity, you failed.

You failed just as surely as Pat Fenlon failed against Hearts, Celtic and Malmo. You failed just as surely as Terry Butcher failed in the succession of games that could have saved us this season. You failed just as surely as the players failed to save themselves against Hamilton over the course of 180 minutes, for 30 minutes of extra time and in the penalty shootout.

A couple of things can happen to organisations with failed leaders. Others working within the structure can ignore the leader and thrive despite them. Or the failure at the top can become so pervasive, so destructive that everyone in the organisation suffers.

It is the latter scenario that has played out at Easter Road under your leadership. It begins and ends with you.

Your underachieving leads to underachieving on the pitch. Your disregard for the fans leads to an organisation at odds with the people whose loyalty it needs to survive. Your lack of openess has created a divide between the club and its community, a club apparently fearful to even talk about the things it does well.

Now, finally, your leadership has resulted in a season that began with record breaking ignominy and ended with utter humiliation.

And your response is to say that our recovery is dependent on your involvement.

If you've got a complete lack of self awareness then fine, that's up to you. But when your arrogance is causing what could be irreperable damage to our football club then there is a problem.

Rod Petrie is a toxic brand to more and more of our supporters. Yesterday's result ensured that there is no way that you will ever be able to win many fans round again.

Our recovery will take time. But we have to believe we can recover. Unfortunately if the rebuilding begins with you still retaining any influence or involvement then that recovery will be even harder.

It might even be impossible.

Sir Tom Famer once said that he'd love to have more Rod Petries to work with. Sir Tom's judgement has made him rich. But he's wrong about that.

Because yesterday we saw the inevitable conclusion of building a football club in the image of Rod Petrie - passionless, directionless and failing.