Something that has really stunned me in the last couple of days has been the depth of positive feeling towards Don Amott since he announced his resignation. I knew Don was well liked but I’m sure that even he must have been overwhelmed by the response of supporters to his departure.
It is unprecedented in my following of local sport. A succession of Derby County chairmen were tolerated but not especially liked. Some were detested, to be quite honest and none attracted the depth of feeling that recent events have shown. In cricket circles Will Taylor kept the county club afloat for decades but probably never 'felt the love' expressed for our most recent chairman.
I’ve had a remarkable number of e mails and the recurring theme is “How do we get him back?” The simple retort, of course is whether he would wish to, certainly if the people he disagreed with are still involved.I still struggle to get my head around why the opinion of three people, even in senior roles, carries weight within a committee of fifteen unless too many just go with the flow. A committee is exactly that and everyone’s vote is (or should be) equal. Over the years at both hockey and cricket clubs I have been treasurer, secretary, match secretary, team captain and ordinary member and I have never known any variant to that.
Did Don jump ship too quickly without thinking it through? There were enough other people on the committee for the three amigos to be comfortably outvoted on their Baldrick-style cunning plans, unless of course they had played a flanker and got support for those plans without consulting Don. I find that very hard to believe, but you never know.
As someone mailed me last night, is our greater need (and I realise this is blunt) for an accountant, a chap who worked with the Co-op and someone who takes photographs, or a man who puts his own money into the organisation on a regular basis and offers interest-free loans when required? I realise this is perhaps unfair and that the people concerned do other things for the club, but in the current economic climate, as the Derby Telegraph points out today, Derbyshire need – really need - Don Amott.
It is not just about his money. It is his personality and easy way with people, always useful when you’re trying to persuade them to part with money. He is an imposing and impressive figurehead for the club and that never does any harm either. He’s unafraid to call it as it is too and has a great working relationship with both Keith Loring and John Morris.
This is another of my concerns. Don mentioned that John Morris came to them with a five-year plan and wanted to give John a one-year contract extension now. If an aspect of that plan was to bring in more youngsters, even at the expense of a few results here and there, then that would have been the right thing to do. I can understand a reluctance not to do that in some people after last year’s disappointments, but in Morris’ shoes I would be more likely to pack my side with experienced men and give myself a better chance of results and a contract extension, even if it cost the club a little more money. Inexperience has been the reason behind Derby County’s decline – there’s not enough people on the pitch who have been in the tough situations.
Now Don has told the world that the three committee members wanted to have a say in team selection WITHOUT consulting the Head of Cricket, there is sure to be an atmosphere of mistrust. How they go about rebuilding a relationship is paramount to where we go from here. Had Don Amott resigned as Chairman but stayed on the Committee he would have been in a position to oppose such plans, but my concerns now are that we have a well-paid man in charge of cricket who is potentially going to be told what to do by people who know nothing about it.
But not for long, would be my guess. As I said on Radio Derby last night, I have massive respect for John Morris as a former player, a coach and a man. I admire his honesty and his passion for Derbyshire cricket and I can’t see him being told what to do by mere amateurs – I wouldn’t, in his shoes.
IF – and we’ve still not heard the side of the three people concerned – there is truth in what Don Amott says, then those people should do the honourable thing and resign themselves. As I have said before, committee members are elected to represent the membership on matters pertaining to the club. They are not there to empire-build, form clandestine alliances and feather their own nests and sense of importance.
There’s an old saying that you don’t buy a dog and bark yourself. Neither do you appoint a man with good reputation as Head of Cricket and tell him how to do his job. If Don’s comments are true, we may soon have a team photograph taken by someone who sets the timer on the camera before going into it himself, resplendent in a club tracksuit…
You'll gather I'm not impressed.