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23 Jan 2004 00:00
Malcolm Reynolds had intended to be at the McCain stadium by 9am but his journey from home, a 20-minute drive away along the North Yorkshire coast, was delayed by a stream of telephone calls, mainly from journalists.
Eventually arriving at the ground shortly before 10am, the Scarborough chairperson was greeted by 20 reporters, 12 photographers and two television crews, who had ignored the club’s suggestion that they turn up on Thursday, the designated press day.
Between interviews, Reynolds tackled the main issues of the day: catering and sponsorship. Marketing executives from McCain, the frozen food company and Scarborough’s main sponsor, had appointments to discuss the way their company could be most advantageously promoted ahead of the Chelsea game.
Scarborough hope to boost their projected revenue by up to £100 000 from sponsorship, upping Saturday’s profit margin to £500 000.
How to feed and entertain the visiting officials from Chelsea proved to be another pressing issue. Normally, Scarborough-style hospitality consists of serving soup and sandwiches for about 12 people in the club’s cosy boardroom, but Reynolds estimates he will need to provide for at least 86 on Saturday.
McCain has offered to help organise the catering, namely the laying on of a brunch that will involve guests spilling over from the boardroom in to a sponsors’ hospitality lounge. It was decided that extending the brunch to more than a single course could be inviting calamity.
The club’s three full-time staff, Reynolds, team manager Russell Slade and their shared secretary, Stephen Graham, set the day aside for worrying about the pitch. A specialist firm was booked to perform repairs on a surface battered by conference football and regular training sessions, while advising how best to protect it ahead of Saturday.
With a potential postponement due to waterlogging, the firm was expected to provide a temporary cover. Meanwhile, the players trained on the beach.
Security day. Police officers and the manager of a local security firm convened to detail match-day strategy. After first contacting Reynolds on Monday, North Yorkshire constabulary presented a detailed proposal, complete with an estimated bill he was not looking forward to seeing.
Police are rarely involved in Scarborough fixtures, appearing at the McCain stadium once or twice a season when other Yorkshire clubs are in town.
In the recent past, only visits from Doncaster Rovers have caused any concern and Reynolds is usually confident that the club’s 40-strong, in-house-trained band of part-time stewards can cope.
With Chelsea due in town, though, reinforcements were called for and Scarborough have hired a private security firm that will provide 30 to 40 extra stewards. Additional security staff employed by Chelsea were scheduled to travel north to handle the 1 000 visiting fans.
Press day. An influx of about 50 journalists was anticipated and Scarborough aimed to keep them happy by rotating various media groups between Reynolds, Slade, Nick Henry (player coach), Jim Montgomery (part-time goalkeeping coach and hero of Sunderland’s 1973 FA Cup win against Leeds United) and assorted players.
Afterwards Slade aimed to block out the outside world in time for the club to treat the squad to a rare, pre-match, overnight stay in a local hotel this Friday.
Fine-tuning day. Reynolds trusts that any last-minute hitches will be ironed out — such as the thorny question of how to accommodate everyone in the sub-6 000 capacity grounds where Saturday’s tickets, all sold, went for between £10 and £25.
Montgomery has volunteered to watch the game on television at his home in Sunderland, as there is no room for him in the home dug-out and precious little space available elsewhere.
The press box has been purloined by BBC Television and the overspill area used for the media during last Wednesday’s third-round replay win over Southend will be filled by Sky.
The game. Fingers crossed both on and off the pitch. Reynolds, who in his former life as a merchant banker has lived in Russia, hopes Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich will be in attendance. —
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