24.11.2003 It's a year ago today since I posted the first Dear Diary. I wanted to post today on that anniversary to summarise what had happened to me and the club since that time, but for one reason or another I have'nt finished it. So here goes for a Dear Diary Part 1. The rest won't be tomorrow, as I'm going down to Birmingham for a check up. Maybe Wednesday. In any event thanks for all your support through the last 12 months. Exactly a year ago today I wrote my first Dear Diary entry on this bulletin board. I did not expect that I would still be here one year later. I had been diagnosed with Cancer (a soft tissue intra muscular liposarcoma – don’t the words just trip off your tongue) in 1996. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy had given me respite until September 2001, when a recurrence was diagnosed. This was also removed by surgery, with follow up radiotherapy. At that time another tumour was diagnosed in my groin, which was deemed too difficult to operate on, so a ‘watch and wait’ approach was adopted. In October last year two new tumours were diagnosed, in my chest wall and lung. I was dismayed to learn that my oncologist had decided that it was best to do nothing, but to adopt a similar watching brief to the one in my groin. Rightly or wrongly, in my mind I was convinced that they were doing nothing because there was no more that they could do. I had followed the fortunes of Barnsley FC since, as an 11 year old in October 1963, I had attended my first league game, 1-1 against Brentford. By November last year it seemed that my beloved Reds were also in terminal decline. In administration, having suffered relegation only months before, with players who seemed indifferent to the fact that the club was in very real danger of going out of business. There was rumoured to be a strong drinking culture, divisions within the team, indiscipline and envy. The club appeared to need ‘root and branch’ attention, not to mention a significant influx of cash. Was that likely in the financial climate of the time, or indeed that which prevails today? To the neutral observer it seemed that only an idiot, a genuine philanthropist, or more worryingly someone with an eye on the asset value of the club, would be interested in buying us at the time. Subsequent events have shown that in some measure we have had all three of those in the last year. To say that Barnsley fans have suffered a roller coaster of emotions is to understate the case. Initially I tried to draw parallels between the struggle for survival of the club, and my own illness. The support that I received from the contributors to this board was immense, and I took great strength from it. I had always known that Barnsley folk were good honest people, and living in North Yorkshire, as I have done for 18 years, it was the people that I missed the most, their humour, their compassion, their essential honesty and integrity. I now found that I had access to those qualities through the medium of this website, and I grabbed it like a drowning man clutching to a lifebelt. By the end of February I felt strong enough to take a second opinion about my condition, and the way that my treatment might now proceed. Although the outcome was tough – a series of operations to remove three tumours – I preferred that to the watching brief that had left me feeling bereft of hope. I should point out that I know and understand that the team who had suggested that approach only had my best interests at heart, and I have no argument with them. It is simply that my own psyche is such that I would rather confront the problem head, in spite of the pain that might cause, rather than do nothing. So what of Barnsley FC ? By now we had the Mayor in charge. Just why, or where he had come from, nobody seemed to know, but he presented himself to the Barnsley public as the saviour of the club. All the talk had been of Patrick Cryne, self made millionaire from Wombwell and a lifelong Barnsley supporter. Just why he did not buy the club towards the end of 2002 is something that possibly only he knows, but the disappointment and frustration felt by the typical BFC fan manifested itself in a multitude of conspiracy theories. As for Mr Doyle, though a self professed saviour, the fans were convinced that this was no white knight. Barnsley is a small town, and many claimed to know the man personally. Most of what was relayed about him was distinctly uncomplimentary. Perhaps his most tactless act was to reappoint John Dennis to the new board. Anything more likely to inflame the supporters is difficult to imagine, but even Fawlty Towers needs a fall guy – sorry, a manager! Foreign investors, prepared to plough millions into the club were put off from investing because they were, though very rich hard headed businessmen who had clawed their way to the top, sensitive souls at heart, easily upset by negative comments from those who should know better. Not least, some of the regular posters on here. Nonetheless to demonstrate that there was no ill feeling toward us, one of our more senior posters, well THE most senior poster actually, was the beneficiary of some Changing Room style home improvements. Nobody actually asked him what colour he wanted his walls painting, they just assumed that he would like it. Nobody was there to record his comments when Carole Smiley said “now Tommy you can open your eyes”, which is probably a good thing. Meanwhile I was undergoing various tests and scans, but what had become very obvious was that the previously rather slow growing tumour on my back had “kicked off”, and was growing at a much faster rate than Barnsley’s points total.