On a personal note, this is the FINAL "SCHEDULED" City Alert for the 2011-12 season, and my regular Sunday Independent column also now takes a break until August. To say the season has been memorable is a bit of an understatement. To have been involved in chronicling all the various events that have defined the last eight months for the club - culminating in "mission accomplished," against considerable odds - has actually felt like quite a privilege.
I'm sure many of you would agree that, in its own way, this past season must rank as right up there with the very best of them in terms of achievement. I particularly liked Mark's choice of the word "warriors" to describe the boys in Saturday's programme notes.
And I take my hat off to Lee, who must have been tearing his hair out at times but who, as well as achieving the near impossible on the field, has been unfailingly courteous and helpful with myself and all the media throughout the season.&n bsp; Certainly I have enjoyed our regular chats (at least twice-weekly). The insights Lee has given me, both from his present viewpoint and from his long experience as a professional footballer, have been truly fascinating. The club has indeed been immensely fortunate to have had such a guy at the helm at such a difficult time.
I also take my hat off to Kevin Heaney, who has, it seems, pulled any number of rabbits out of the hat since last August. I have little doubt that a) the past season has been a headache of scarcely imaginable proportions for him, and that b) by no means the whole "story" behind the club's battle for survival of late has emerged into the public domain - it's easy enough to hurl flack, but not always so wise to respond by way of public comment. Whatever your personal thoughts, let's not forget that Kevin is the guy who has made possible the very high standard of football to which we have all become so accustomed, but which just a few short years ago would have been regarded as a mad dream.
Finally, a big thank-you to those of you who have been kind enough to send me encouraging messages about the City Alerts service, and for the lively bits of "chat" I've had with some subscribers, locally and from the other side of the earth. Like my Sunday Independent column, and also for reasons totally unconnected with the club, I came dangerously close to winding up the City Alerts service around Christmas-time, but my own business circumstances have since changed somewhat - for the better - and if anything I hope to be able to upgrade the Alerts service, at least in frequency, from now on.
Lee and Kevin in particular know I'm ready, able and willing, and so (with the exception of a fair chunk of holiday time in May) I will be on hand to pass on to you all whatever news the club wants to issue, as and when, during the close season. Enjoy the break - the close season promises to be very interesting and, mercifully, footy for real will be back in no time!