6.12.2002 Well that's it then. It's the proverbial 'done deal'. Peter Doyle and family, aided and abetted by new-found friend John Dennis, are the new owners of Barnsley Football Club, encompassing it's debts, it's players, the hearts and minds of the supporters, over a hundred years of history and, more importantly, the entire future of the club. Blunt in the extreme, clearly not unintelligent or he wouldn't have achieved what he has, a man of untold (unknown) wealth, the new Messiah put pen to paper and finally took control on Wednesday. The first announcement to this effect appeared on this board at just after 12.30 and prompted the inevitable rush of postings, mostly, if not totally, expressing disbelief, incredulity and a restatement of the widely held notion that sooner rather than later the freehold land acquired would quickly (relative to the aforementioned 100 years of history) be transformed into a Shopping Mall or a nice neat housing development, full of evocative street names like Glavin Grove, Doyle Drive, Spackman's Folly and Tufnell Terrace. I don't think the ones on Parkin Place will sell too well. So our very own soap opera grinds on, with many unresolved plotlines that will, no doubt, unfold over time. It is difficult to assess at this stage just who are the villains, and who are the heroes. Like Estragon and Vladimir, many of us have spent the last eight weeks waiting for Godot, or at least Patrick Cryne. But Cryne has proved as elusive as Godot. He has not materialised either, and if it were not for the fact that his Bentley is parked in the car park at every home gate, we would have to consider him in the same light as God and Phil Gridelet – everybody knows he's there, but nobody's seen him. He was, of course the proverbial White Knight. The flawless hero of the piece, who would rescue the damsel in distress, scatter the enemy, and restore harmony, prosperity and equilibrium. Hallowed would be his name, his Kingdom come, his will would be done, he would lead us not into temptation, but deliver us to the Premier, where ours would be the glory, the title and Europe, we would stay unbeaten, for ever and ever, URREEEDDDS!! But his failure to come up with an acceptable bid, nor to come out and offer any satisfactory explanations as to why when so many expected so much of him, has transformed him from hero to zero. In barely twenty four hours he has become the second most vilified target for abuse on the Board. JD however, remains the undisputed King of Bile. Which is strange really. In soaps, because actors stay for so long in one part they have to undergo huge personality transformations, so that they conform with the current requirement of that character. So Billy Mitchell in Eastenders, who started out as young Jamie's heartless, bullying, child beating wicked uncle, is now transformed into the hero who has saved Little Mo from her... errrm, heartless, bullying, wife beating husband, and in so doing has become everybody's idea of the warm hearted lovable Cockney rogue, me old china lordluvus, watchamate, corr blimey. In Emmerdale Jack Sugden is now the archetypal Yorkshire farmer, born and bred on't land, steeped in history and cow dung. But those of us old enough to remember will recall that in the early days he was the effete author returning from Italy, where no doubt he had a villa in Tuscany and preferred expensive wines to a pint of Old and Nasty, and despising farming, his family and their parochial way of life. So in the same way, consider John Dennis. He was a director of the club for 8 years, before becoming Chairman twelve years ago. The son of a previous chairman, steeped in the history of the club, and committed to building something that the town could be proud of. He was at the helm when every good thing that has happened to this club in the last twenty years was achieved, and many many good things have been achieved. But, as in soaps, the audience needs its heroes and its villains. When things started to go wrong Dennis reacted to the clamour from the spectators for changes. And I do mean react, in the sense that he was, perhaps too much aware of the demands from certain sections of the crowd. So step up John Hendrie, darling of the fans, book balancer in the transfer market, all round good egg and he signed Craig Hignett. Ditched because promotion was nowhere near being achieved at a time of very high expectations. NEXT !! Step forward Dave Bassett. Best promotion credentials of any manager in the league. Vastly experienced, good motivator, excellent contacts, bringing in quality loan signings. Missed out in the playoffs at Wemberleee – Barnard penalty miss, Hristov header – so near and yet... NEXT !! Nigel Spackman, man of honour, resigned at Bramall Lane when building a good side, intelligent, articulate, thoughtful, part of the England set up, excellent reputation for developing young players – essential when you are trying to build via the Academy. Unlucky with injuries – Salli / Hayward / Barraclough would probably have kept us up last season – and signed just too many players who were not up to the job. NEXT!! Parlous state of the finances meant that bargain basement was the only option. So step forward Steve Parkin, a guy with no particular record in the game, who managed to confirm what a load of nonsense winning the Manager of the Month Award is by snatching relegation from the jaws of safety – Walsall! (my personal blackest day in forty years of watching BFC). And a second relegation must be somebody's fault, so step forward John Dennis. If he had been the subject of This is Your Life in 2000, the backslappers would have stepped forward by the busload. Now he would be lucky to get a motorbike and sidecar full. But I defy any of you now to deny that, during the Premier League days, you did not bask in the reflected glow of Mr Chairman, widely regarded by the media and just about everyone else as the acceptable face of football, honesty and integrity personified. So what changed – him or people's opinion towards him ? I was told that I had cancer on the 18th October 1996. On that day I rang three people who I wanted to know, because I thought that, in my hour of greatest need, they would give me the support, through their friendship, that I desperately needed. My wonderful sister was one, and she remains a constant, always there when I need her, in spite of many difficulties in her own life. The other two have now disappeared from my life, in spite of, collectively, knowing me and being my 'friend' for about forty years prior to my diagnosis. There is a bottom line here that, when the going gets tough, you really do find out who your friends are. When everything is OK it's easy to be a friend. No hassle, just jogging along having a laugh. But when the **** hits the fan ? When you need a bit of support and understanding, when you want just a bit of return on the time and effort that you have put in to making something work. To talk in terms of betrayal is to over dramatise the situation, but sometimes, at my lowest, I wonder just what I did that was so wrong that so called friends could simply turn their backs on me. I don't think I have changed, but obviously people's opinions of me have. But wait a minute. I said that every soap opera has to have a hero. Doyle, Dennis or Cryne ? What about Alan Bloore, The Supporters Trust, Matt Dunham, Barnsley 2003 ? None of these it seems, so in an atmosphere of fear and suspicion, is it possible for the club to survive or will it simply pull itself apart, and in so doing bring about the proverbial 'worst case scenario'. At the risk of repeating myself, I really do feel that now is the time to simply support the club, to be there when it needs us, and to stop asking questions that there are no answers to.