Another week and another home defeat for Longford Town FC, who are yet to taste success at the City Calling Stadium in 2016 after a 1-0 defeat to Bohemians on Saturday night. A crowd of just over 200 people, which included at least 50 Bohemains supporters, watched on as Tony Cousins side remained rooted to the boot of the Premier Division table with little sight of escape from their current predicament. Once again it was an individual error that cost Town dear with defender Rhys Gorman failing to cut out a simple through ball, which eventually found its way to the feet of Kurtis Byrne who’s tame effort somehow managed to squeeze in past goalkeeper Paul Skinner at the near post. That was to be the signal for a small number of Longford Town FC fans to display a banner with two simple words on it which were ”cousins out” as frustration and disillusionment continue to grow within the dwindling fan base.
Did Longford Town deserve something from Saturday’s game? There is no doubt they did as a spirited second half display saw the men in ”Red and Black” turn up a number of good opportunities, although it must be noted ”Bohs” striker Ishmael Akinade did miss a glorious one on one opportunity to make it 2-0 and put the game to bed early in the second half. Yet another red card for a Longford Town player also went against the home side as substitute Don Cowan was shown a straight red card for a wild lunge on a Bohemians player and the decision to replace David O’Sullivan at half-time should be one that is closely scrutinised, as the clubs all-time leading goalscorer was working as hard as anyone for the cause on Saturday night but now appears to be taking the brunt of Tony Cousins frustrations.
The question LTFC supporters will be asking this morning is ”what now and where do we go from here?” Seventeen games into the 2016 season and ”De Town” have won once, with that win coming on the opening weekend against a newly promoted and clearly nervous Wexford Youths team. Since then Cousins charges have taken some heavy beatings from the likes of Dundalk, Cork City and Sligo Rovers to name a few while in recent games the sides around them have also had their way with ”De Town” as both Finn Harps and Wexford Youths leave Longford eating their dust in the league standings. Tony Cousins has flip flopped in the media by first saying it would be incredibly difficult for this current Town team to remain in the Premier Division giving our budget and resources compared to the other clubs in the league only to come out a few weeks later and say he had absolutely no doubt he would guide ”De Town” well up the table and away from any danger. Again it would be interesting for a journalist to ask Tony where he feels he will guide the side between now and the end of the season after yet another defeat last night.
Normally within the world of football and all the modern day managerial sackings we see, there is usually a regular pattern that leads to a manager being replaced. Ten games is always the figure pundits put on the time being right to judge a managers performance, include cup games and Cousins has had double that. The support of the fans would be another barometer for whether a manager stays or goes and it’s as clear as day that Tony Cousins has lost all support within the stands at CCS. Finally, losing the faith from the players would always be the final nail in a bosses coffin and again it’s clear to see a number of players both long serving and newly arrived have lost their confidence to be lead by this manager yet he still remains?
Both the chairman and the executive committee at Longford Town FC have come in for heavy criticism on social media in recent months for their apparent faith in the Town boss. The Midlands club are one of very few within the league who truthfully do not rely on gate receipts to survive. The club are extremely lucky to have fantastic backing through the City Calling group while chairman Jim Hanley kept the club afloat through the darkest of times and deserves the greatest of credit for doing so. However, it’s now time for the people in charge of the club to make a decision on what kind of club they want to oversee. If they want a club that the majority of local people feel no connection to and couldn’t care less if they lived or died or what division they play in then they will continue to allow the attendances to dwindle to nothing more than a handful of die-hards who are suffering more than anyone at this moment in time. However, if they want to see the local football community rally behind the team and create a fighting spirit like that of the 2007 team under Alan Mathews, who many regard as one of the best Town teams of years gone by despite the fact they were ultimately relegated, then the decision that needs to be made is clear for all to see.
Longford Town FC are extremely privileged to play in one of the best grounds in the country but it is a sad sight to see both the stand and the famous Section O virtually empty, with an atmosphere not too dissimilar to a morgue at home games. Of course these issues run much much deeper than a simple managerial change and there should be a total overlook at the running of the club at the end of season, with the need for a first public AGM in almost a decade apparent. The question now is, how many more supporters are the club willing to lose? What will it take for them to make a decision that the fans desperately want to see made? Only the chairman and his committee can answer that.