“The Waterford football public are educated in their views on football and should not be underestimated”  – Billy Costine

As if following the fortunes of Newcastle isn’t stressful enough, well-known coach driver Billy Costine is ‘Blue’ in the face over the woes befalling his other beloved United, Waterford.

The Logloss resident felt compelled to put fingers to keyboard following the local Eircom League club’s disappointing end of season, which saw the possibility of promotion slip away amid a poor run of results, despite their rivals’ reluctance to slam the door shut.

Certain he speaks for a lot of “real True Blue supporters”, Billy says: “On leaving the new stand at the RSC last Friday night, and being in the company of three older friends of mine (all lifetime fans, I might add) … the mood amongst the fans all around me was one of anger. Here we were, condemned to face another year in ‘Hell’: the First Division. The general feeling was that we the fans have had enough and cannot take another year in limbo.”

As a devoted follower himself since 1965/’66, “and wanting this proud and famous football club of ours to always be in the Premier Division”, Billy laments what’s been happening to his hometown club on and off the field, “particularly in the last couple of years.”

Having his say as a paying punter, which he sees as his “democratic right”, Billy’s main concerns are “the results, poor signings, team selection and tactics.”

Quoting Gareth Cronin’s insistence before the current season started that “this will be my team this year”, in his view the Waterford manager has shown “poor judgment”, with “bewildering” line-ups and his persevering with picking players, who are clearly uncomfortable, out of position. Such “mind-boggling” tactics were, he says, there for all to see during the defeat at home by Shels.

Referring back to the 2007 season, when the Blues were eventually relegated after a play-off against Finn Harps, Billy observed that “For at least fifteen home games in the Premier Division last year the Manager played a four-five-one system. I asked the question at the time – why can’t he be more attack-minded and positive in taking the game to the opposition. This year the trend has continued,” he says, citing numerous examples of negative thinking and “giving the opposition too much respect.”

At this stage, “It is no use looking for excuses. I have heard them all before… on countless occasions. The referee was bad, the linesman made a bad call, we had dubious penalties given against us, the opposition were too defensive, and we had no luck in front of goal. All part and parcel of the game I’m afraid; you take the rough with the smooth.”

Of the view that the manager “should do the honourable thing and resign,” Billy believes there’s widespread support for his sentiments. Indeed, if the Corkman is managing Waterford United next season, “I for one, and I am sure there will be a lot more like me, will not be attending the RSC and therefore withdrawing my lifetime’s support for the Blues (something that hurts me deeply) until the managerial situation changes.

“The Waterford football public are educated in their views on football and should not be underestimated, something I think the present manager and people within Waterford United should understand… The ball is in your court, act now and give us back our pride,” he pleads.

As can be read in our soccer pages, Gareth Cronin, who again complained about decisions going against his team all season, intends to stay on (at the management committee’s behest), having expressed the opinion mid-campaign that going up would be the worst thing that could happen given the club’s dire financial straits.

He claims his young side can be title contenders come 2009, though “We must cut our cloth to measure for next season”, he warns, somewhat ominously.

As far as I’m concerned, after what they’ve had to put up with this past nine months, no fault whatsoever can be attached to the players and while some, like Billy, may question the manager’s decision-making (and as one of the few loyal paying customers down the decades from Kilcohan to Kilbarry, he’s entitled to his say more than most), Cronin’s commitment to the cause has been total since taking charge at the RSC. Whatever about their pressurised GAA counterparts, money literally wouldn’t pay you to be an Eircom League manager. You’d be nearly inclined to say you were George Bush’s speech-writer if you were asked what you did for a living.