16.06.2003 It’s Monday 16th June. It’s 8.50. It’s a big day in the life of all those with the interests of Barnsley Football Club. It’s a day that might end with good news, or it might be the worst news of all. I’ve been there before, and I’ve had the good news as well as the bad. I’ve had bad news when I expected good, and good news when everything seemed to say that no good could possibly come from this. For an example of the latter, I recall a day about four years ago, could be five. I had been three years or so in remission following my original diagnosis in 1996. But I had a problem, not one that one normally shares with a few hundred people who I don’t know, but without knowing the intimate details then nothing can be put into context. Put simply I was shitting blood. Not a bit on the paper mind, no this was bright red, splashing the bowl, discolouring the water a vivid deep red. And ten wipes later there was still blood on the paper. In my mind it could only mean one thing – bowel cancer. So it was with a massive feeling of trepidation that I lay on the bed looking at the picture in front of me. For those of you who have never experienced the delights of a sigmoidoscopy, I should explain. You are starved for a day or so before hand, given something to ‘empty your bowels’ on the morning of the procedure, laid on a bed which is then elevated to about five feet off the ground, thus bringing you level with the screen that enables you, along with the doctors, nurses, cleaners, third formers on day release, to view the progress of the video camera, mounted on a half inch flexible metal pipe, as it first enters your jaxi then proceeds to travel at least two miles into the bowel of your bowel. The journey is made passably entertaining by enabling you to view again the tiny remnants of food not cast out by the enema. So as the snake like tube travels further and further you pass small pieces of carrot, the occasional pea or piece of onion. You are viewing this at the same time as your doctor, who is feeding the offending article into your body, whilst at the same time looking for tell tale signs of a disease that might just mean that your planned holiday might have to be delayed, postponed or cancelled altogether. You feel vulnerable, frightened and unable to believe that this will not end in tears. Which is exactly how I feel today. It would be wrong to say that Ridsdale is making all the right noises. If the consortium is as financially sound as we are led to believe then how come that is being qualified by ‘money for players may be available, but it depends on the final details of the deal’. Hmm! That does not sound like a gang of minted individuals to me, more like another bunch of perhaps well meaning individuals, who are trying to safeguard the future of football at Oakwell, without necessarily having the financial clout required to bring about the quite substantial financial investment that will be essential if we are to build a squad strong enough to, at the very least, compete next season. And why does he keep referring to these ‘other two clubs’ that he is allegedly talking to. To say that it smacks of a lack of commitment to the club is to understate the case. More like a carpet-bagging potential MP, hawking himself around the country, telling every constituency that he talks to that this is the greatest place on earth, and where he had always spiritually considered his home. But when faced with the options, a clutching at straws mentality is sometimes all you have left. So it is with a feeling of apprehension, tempered with cautious optimism, that I start the day. As I say, I have been here before. And how did that one end, I hear at least one of you cry? Well after about fifteen minutes the doc put his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘GOOD NEWS Steve, there are no signs of cancer in your bowel.’ I almost turned over, pulled him up onto the bed and made passionate love to him. Almost but not quite, and I am sure he was delighted about that. Instead, just about unable to speak, and quite literally shaking with emotion, I asked him where the blood was coming from if it wasn’t cancer. ‘Well there appears to be a fissure just inside your bum, and when you go to the toilet it opens up and causes you to bleed’. He gave me some suppositories, which I should insert three times a day, and this would heal up the crack and hey presto, no more blood. Which is precisely what happened. But every now and then, after a few beers, or a bit of constipation followed by the hard stool, or a demon curry from the Mumtaz in Bradford, the crack opens up again and it’s back to the medication. Even if today brings good news, and I really do hope it does, I have a feeling that this may not be the last time that we need the suppositories. Thanks again to everyone for all your good wishes. I continue to make excellent progress after the last operation on the 28th May, and ‘look forward’ to the next one in a few weeks time. Then it’s just a bit of radiotherapy and a few more years remission – PLEASE!!