HEREFORD UNITED’S financial crisis has brought back a few unhappy memories for Bulls centre-back Luke Graham.
The Bulls skipper recalls a difficult few months at Kettering Town where he was caught up in similar money problems with the Poppies.
I RE-SIGNED at Kettering Town a few years ago on a three-year contract, a club I thought was going places and on my doorstep.
I had just brought my first house locally and was happy to secure my future.
The chairman had invested heavily in the team that was expected to make the play-offs.
We started off poorly and were in the bottom-half by the time local rivals Rushden and Diamonds had knocked us out in the FA Cup fourth qualifying round.
That’s when the rumours had started.
I found out soon afterwards through a team-mate’s agent that a deal had been arranged to sell me to another club in the division. It was the first I had heard of it.
I was playing for my local club and was determined to see the club improve and get up the league. I was shocked, to say the least. Four months into that long-term contract I had signed, the club were trying to sell me and any valuable asset they could.
We didn’t get paid on time and the threat was there.
The gaffer at the time, Marcus Law, wanted me to stay, yet the chairman wanted me to go. I was a higher earner and he could get a small fee on top.
I dug in and was prepared to take a pay cut in order to stay.
I knew the three clubs I could go to, yet I didn’t want to leave. Every day, different tactics were employed from the chairman.
The January window was looming and he didn’t want me to get injured. He wouldn’t let the manager play me and I was warming up the goalkeeper on a match day.
The trust I had in Marcus Law was massive and his trust in me was equally big. He wanted me to stay and build a team around me.
The gaffer made me captain on New Year’s Day to show his intent to the chairman and played me. I wanted to stay.
Yet I had a damning call the next day from the chairman explaining the implications of certain players staying. And I was one of them!
A whole weight was on my shoulders. I was made to feel the club would die if I, and others, decided to stay. I left for Luton Town within days.
The gaffer was the first one I called on before making the decision and he was fully behind me.
Anyone they could get a transfer fee for left and any high earner who could find another club moved on.
In total, five players left for £60,000 in transfer fees and a large chunk of money was lifted off the budget.
How the club stayed up that season was a miracle and Marcus Law somehow managed to wheel and deal. He had done a fantastic job.
It made me feel vindicated in my decision to go and I was happy they stayed up. The club had survived financially and fans had a local club to support.