Black’s Hole

Once again it takes Kim’s excellent scribing to put thing’s in perspective…

I make no apology if some dirty minded so and so takes the title of this article as being a bit rude.

Last year I wrote a piece for TCW saying that we should forget 1956. It was beginning to become a huge bind on the club, not just a joke our rivals like to throw at us. Other clubs are getting in the act of making it a psychological wedge; with the instance that the league is the only thing of importance and that nothing else really matters. I wonder now if we’ll see the results of letting that desperation for a championship win consume Neil Black and the organisation come the end of the season, because Black has certainly put himself into a difficult position by insisting on the league as an absolute and paramount priority.

The idea that the other trophies aren’t important is a load of nonsense. Certainly, they rank behind the league in terms of prestige, but their value shouldn’t be dismissed outright. I would dearly love to see the Panthers win the league championship one day, but would I take it if it meant swapping Kim Ahlroos’ overtime goal in 2004 or Rasto saving that last penalty shot in 2007? Absolutely not, those are two wonderful moments that still rank alongside any league championship should it ever arrive.

Unfortunately it doesn’t appear that this is the prevailing opinion. A week after our last Challenge Cup victory in 2008, Neil Black gave an infamous interview to Mick Holland in the Nottingham Evening Post criticizing Mike Ellis’ inability to win the league championship and essentially belittling the two successes we enjoyed under him. That turned out to be a gargantuan misjudgement, as the supporters overwhelming rallied around Ellis, but all that support did not stop him from departing come seasons end.

Black has now set himself a precedent. Ellis was hugely popular with the supporters and delivered us two of the great moments of the NIC era. That wasn’t seen to be enough. Now Corey Neilson is staring at a similar record – two seasons without the league title coming to Lower Parliament Street. Neilson has never enjoyed the same level of support with the fans that Ellis did, so is he likely to suffer the same fate?

Of course I could be wrong, we could still win the title, but it looks increasingly like a battle between Coventry and Belfast. I certainly hope I am wrong, but this season seems to be drifting the same way as most which have preceded it. Black didn’t give the opportunity that Ellis, who did a great deal more than Neilson has so far been able too, deserved. It could be said that Ellis refused a new contract, but in my opinion everything became unstuck after that ill-timed, ill-judged interview. Will Black be forgiving when it comes to contract discussions with Neilson at the end of the season? If he’s not, will his replacement have a mere two seasons too? Time will tell.

The curse of 1956 has one central element to it. We’re becoming too obsessed by it.

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