As sparks fly at FGR HQ, Simon Hacker checks the moral VAR
Google searches across the Stroud area for the removal of Rob Edwards tattoos have soared in the wake of his sudden departure as head coach of Forest Green Rovers.
Mr Edwards chose a golden hour to slip in a bit of a career update and the skill of his U-turn, after making noises about an assured 2022-3 season at The New Lawn, might have you imagining he’s off to work for Boris Johnson.
Given his charm, charisma and boy-band looks, he’d be front-bench gold.
Inhaling the barely suppressed invective of FGR’s consequent media statement, issued on Tuesday with all the joy of someone running to meet the bin man in their pyjamas, this was clearly not in the script.
Indeed, Rob was in the building on Monday evening when I queued with the faithful to have a selfie with the beribboned holy grail. In a room next door, they were probably measuring him up for a bronze statue to go on the roundabout outside, a planning application that even the officers at Stroud District Council would surely have found the heart to recommend.
FGR’s statement came not so much garnished as gift-wrapped with scorn, but even if you’re sublimely horizontal about football you’ll probably know what’s been said.
Without dwelling on any involuntary images of PU handbags being clutched, it was in harmony with the collective spirit of The New Lawn: a reaction from the heart which was, as ever, refreshingly honest about the moral state of football (an ideal subject for exploration on a series of postage stamps). Perhaps most poignantly, there was little attempt to mute a sense of raw WTAF.
So after our stunning demo to the world about the supremacy of eco-powered football, the mood music shifted from Endor’s Pump It Up to unadulterated Dolly Parton. “Wat-ford, Wat-ford, Wat-ford, Wat-fo-o-ord, I’m begging of you please don’t take my man.”
In terms of safeguarding our heritage though, the Edwardian period, disregarding the VAR proof of this last-minute off-side, will not be undervalued, even if the South Stand songbook will see Mr Edwards’ name sung no more. Fans who chanted a willingness to bear his children have already, I guess, endured a protracted cold shower and vigorous scrub. Personally, I’m so over him – 48 attempts to call his voicemail and never leave more than a series of snot-dripping groans was cathartic.
Life moves fast in football though and as the tractors of change plough over the old pitch and furrow hope for new wonders to come, we eagerly await the seedlings of hope. Whoever just walked out the door is old news. Who’s going to walk in?
Off-camera, there will be a succession of applicants grunting and grimacing to prove they can fill RE’s shoes, a model of footwear that appeared to allow the wearer to walk on water.
Braver minds, however, will be focusing on a question that should only be whispered: what if FGR finds someone even better? Of course, Edwards’ touch on the team was inspired, his approach refreshing, but the club’s entire ethos was all about that anyway. Edwards’ style wasn’t, at the last check, patented; other talents are available. Perhaps even some who can mastermind a plan for success that sprinkles goals and drapes clean sheets across more than two-thirds of a season?
Having slept on it, I am optimistic. Ironically, it’s an emotional state I learned from Mr Edwards himself: we press on, we look forward, we focus. And whoever emerges for this role, you can bet that he or she, whatever their colour, creed or background, will be someone with good potential to evangelise the Forest Green gospel in this exciting new dimension.
And what’s that, you say you agree but still want a morsel of schedenfreude? That, in all likelihood, might be a dish served cold, with a P45 pudding, halfway through Watford’s next season.