As soon as the south stand turned on Saturday and chanted “Hartley, Hartley GTF” the game was up. Time was up.
I’ll leave you to work out what the letters stand for. No longer wanted is the more family friendly translation.
As soon as that is sung – it’s over.
Steven Pressley showed you can survive wallpaper banner protests, but you can’t dodge the chant. He never experienced it.
It happened to Eddie May one Wednesday night against Kilmarnock. Gone within minutes rather than hours.
They bit their tongues with Houston as long as they could – but one Saturday against Livingston they chanted, and on the Sunday it was ‘sayonara’.
Then Hartley. The ‘Don’. The man of a million avatars on internet forums.
They sang it for him on Saturday and within 48 hours his fate was sealed and in a little more than that, it was made public.
He’s the name in the refrain, it was his head on the and in the line, but it’d be wrong to think he’s the only one who’s being encouraged to leave.
But a chorus of 16 names, the board, the scout, the staff and whomever else, won’t scan. They weren’t subject of ‘the’ song. Therefore, they’re still in place.
And on the song theme, just four months ago everyone at the club was ‘on the same hymnsheet’ the chief executive had tweeted after the now former manager contradicting his claims of that the largest playing budget in the club’s Championship history was being attributed to push for promotion. Hartley claimed it was the same as usual.
What they had been paying Lee Miller, Mark Kerr, Craig Sibbald and Tom Taiwo, they spent on Dylan Mackin, Paul Paton, Rees Greenwood, Tom Dallison and a dozen others. Time served Bairns departed the club, some reluctantly, others with relief.
Hartley had come into position aiming to trim the squad. “It’s too big,” he told shareholders bluntly, and the focus was to be quality over quantity. There has been a vast quantity of players come in this summer, the squad’s still roughly the same size, but the quality does not bear the same scale.
Will a new figure get a tune out of the squad assembled, to much excitement? They’ll need to.
Paul Hartley took over after ___ league games – with Falkirk on a solitary win under Alex Smith .
Only Brechin were propping them up. Hope was on the horizon though. A few months before though they’d been so close to the Premiership, genuine promotion contenders. They just needed a turnaround.
They’ve turned around, infact the club looks very different to what it did just one year ago. The Academy-based club is now running on a recruitment model – one that has not made a good initial impression.
The squad has been turned on its head. Gone are the oldtimers and seasoned pros in the squad, and so has the old-timer behind the scenes now on the other side of the world.
A new man is entering a dressing room with a new group of players, many relatively unknown, untested and so far unimpressive.
They’re reporting to a board which has axed two managers inside a year.
Tallied up, that doesn’t make the job half as attractive as what it was when Hartley was appointed. And he was appointed, he didn’t apply.
Of course it’ll still attract management figures, particularly those out of work. It’s a fantastic club with a loyal fanbase, but an expectant one too. With every passing season, every missed promotion opportunity, or relegation dodged, the crowd become more and more impatient. This is approaching a record-equalling spell outside the top flight.
The pressure on the next candidate has already started. And he doesn’t even have the job yet. Whoever he is.
The pressure is on too, to make sure that the appointment, this time, is the right one. If not the name might change but the tune will stay the same. again.