Nobody likes talking about the ‘M’ Word. It’s built into us to avoid the subject and considered uncouth to raise the topic. However, sometimes reality needs to be faced.
How have Forest Green Rovers advanced from the Dr Martens Midland Division to the cusp of League One football? It’s a question that I’ve been asked many, many times and one that doesn’t faze me because it’s a simple one-word answer – the ‘M’ word – money!
Seriously, folks, you can talk about the great staff members, brilliant players, selfless directors, and administrators who have improved year on year to take the club forward but none of that improvement could have been achieved without the green folding stuff.
The coaching merry-go-round where the same faces land the same plum jobs time and time again paints a false picture of who are the best coaches in the world.
I’d love to see the likes of Pep, Jose and Antonio Conte in charge of Carlisle, Crawley or Colchester. There would be no miracles, no progression through the leagues without the investment to make it possible. All you can do with a club languishing at the bottom is to get the best from the players that you have and because of the salaries being paid, their best is not as good as the opposition’s best. To get players to overachieve is nigh on an impossible task.
A popular misconception is the players I had at Rovers overachieved. They didn’t, those I inherited were replaced with better players as more money was made available to me.
In my seven seasons at the club, the budget increase from day one to sacking day was a whopping six hundred percent. My own salary was nine times more on the day I left than on the day when I was appointed. Impressive eh? I always smile inwardly when quoting figures because I remember club legend and local hero Rob Cook sitting opposite me when I had just offered him a 25% pay rise telling me “25 percent of next to nothing is still next to nothing!”
Trevor Horsley found the money necessary to somehow keep the club in the Conference despite it being a permanent struggle and of course Dale Vince has moved the club on with his leadership and investment. The green-eyed monsters are always making snarky remarks of how it will all end in tears but remember, jealousy is a terrible thing. More to the point, Dale’s life mantra is sustainability, the future of Forest Green is more solid than the vast majority of clubs.
I honestly believe Forest Green Rovers will play Championship football at the very least. That’s something that at one time I would never have thought possible. I also believe that Newcastle United will win the Premier League and be genuine Champions League contenders within the next decade. The reason Ladies and Gentleman, the ‘M’ word. The green-eyed monsters will turn against both clubs, but I repeat, jealousy is a terrible thing!
In a regular column, iconic former Forest Green manager Frank Gregan has teamed up with Stroud Times to look back on his time at the New Lawn.
Now living in Spain and a published author, the former sergeant major joined Rovers in 1994 – leading his side to back-to-back promotions and Wembley final. Frank transformed the club from non-league minnows, charting the way for what they have gone on to achieve under the late Trevor Horsley’s successor Dale Vince.
Follow Frank on Twitter: @Greegers