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Darlo Free Speech Banned
Darlo Free Speech Banned
Saturday, 15th Feb 2003 00:00

Darlington Chairman Bans The Right To Free Speech?

Home > Story Index >Darlington Chairman Ban's Free Speech

There appears to be more problems at Darlington with controversial chairman George Reynolds banning a supporter from the ground, 16 year old David McLean, editor of "Where's the Money Gone?"
Local football supporter, Andrew Kensington had this to say: "George Reynolds, Chairman of Darlington , has for many years courted publicity as a "reformed criminal and former safecracker", now turned successful local businessman. He has made no attempt to hide his past but has, rather, revelled in the celebrity status, which he feels this justly accords him.
"His undoubted business success appears to be founded on what is, to say the least, a somewhat unconventional style of leadership. I have found that his staff are usually reluctant to talk about this but there is frequent publicity, originating from a section of them, to tell us all what a "good chap" George is! Ex-staff, however, tend to tell a different story! "Since taking over the chairmanship of DFC, George Reynolds has attempted to transfer his business methods to the running of the football club. This is, of course, the usual practice for businessmen coming into the game but it has not worked in the case of Mr Reynolds. He has found that fans (who unlike employees do not owe him their living) are prepared to speak out against his autocratic style. "He does not appear to understand that football supporters are not the frightened "yes men" he is used to dealing with but are more like "super-loyal customers". He has demonstrated, time and time again, that he is unable (or perhaps, not prepared) to take criticism from fans, any more than he would accept this from employees. The banning of fanzine editor, Dave McLean, is just the latest manifestation of this fact."
Reynolds justifying his position states: "The Club, Chairman and Directors of Darlington Football Club want to make it quite clear that Dave McLean was not banned because of the Fanzine. He was banned for life for inciting a small number of fans and unfair and biased remarks against our club. This is unacceptable. "The season ticket he is suppose to have was in the name of S.Watts of the Nationwide Building Society. Ticket No. 00506 which we have got in our possession, his attendance to the games this season is a total of 7 games. "He has been trouble since the day he took over the fanzine from Daniel King. Remarks in the fanzine do nothing but take the out of our club. "Hitler would have been proud of him. He would have been part of a propaganda machine just like William Joyce, known as Lord Aha. "The fans at Darlington are very very good fans. We have wonderful support. There's a small minority of about 12 who are in the club for total destruction. Anyone who wishes to support him they can make an appointment and I will meet them face to face on a 1 to 1 basis or a 2-2 if they wish. "I am still waiting for those heroes to come up with their names and addresses. The people that hide behind poison pens. We are now 3 days on and not one has got the bottle to produce yet." "We intend to make it public in newspaper's and radio, which we have already done with Aplha, the reasons for him being banned from the club. "We are fully aware that fans have the right to moan if they are discontent. But we will not accept people to suit their own agenda to demoralise, humiliate, victimise and create utter destruction to suit their own ends. "In the past three years Dave McLean has contributed nothing at all to Darlington football Club. He hasn't even paid for a season ticket."
McLean though naturally disagrees, " Over the past week George Reynolds has launched a disgraceful attack against myself, a 16 year old editor of a fanzine which has only ever aimed to give a voice to the fans. With the launch of internet messageboards the potential for making money from a fanzine such as Where's The Money Gone is incredibly small, instead I continue with it because I enjoy doing it. "I am the victim of a disgusting bullying tactic used by the club to silence a fan with a legitimate mouthpiece. For simply speaking my mind in a fanzine and in a phone conversation between Reynolds and myself in which he brought up WTMG, I was subjected to a sickening verbal onslaught by George Reynolds, Michael Knighton, and Alpha 103.2's Dave Hutchinson. Before being told that I was banned from Feethams and my season ticket confiscated. "In many fans' eyes Mr. Reynolds rules this club with an iron fist, unless you jump when told to or say "yes" when asked a question then you simply aren't welcome at Feethams. WTMG has put over valid points for six years now and has NEVER incited trouble or hatred against an individual, and none of our comments have been deemed unfair by our readership. Any criticism of George Reynolds is thoroughly justified and I would willingly talk to anyone who doesn't feel the same way. "After evicting me from the ground on Saturday Mr. Reynolds has moved fast to put across his side of the story before anyone else has had the chance to. A respectable media source told me that George Reynolds informed all of the press at Feethams as to what had happened to me and why, before landing his lowest punch yet. I have been accused by the Chairman on this site of having never contributed to Darlington Football Club - when I read this I felt that I had to comment on it. For the past few years I've paid game by game as I live in South Shields and can't always guarantee making games - I regularly got to over 75% of matches a season, probably paying the same amount of money as the cost of a season ticket in the process. During preseason this year I entered a competition advertised on Uncovered to win a season ticket for Darlington FC - I entered it, and won. Show me one person who would turn down a free season ticket and I'll show you a liar. The name 'S. Watts' on the ticket was simply because the season ticket was bought by Nationwide in advance, I've quite happily admitted to fans that it was a prize. "The fact that I have only been to 7 games this season is due to my Saturday job which I rarely get time off from, however I need this job as it provides a decent income to someone who is still only at college. "But things get worse in this immaturely written textual outburst, going on to describe me as a person who "Hitler would have been proud of." This simply underlining the childlike level of insults that George Reynolds deems fit to use in a public release. This latest event in a long line of PR disasters with George at the helm just goes to show that free speech isn't an option at Darlington Football Club, and that it's a put up or shut up situation in a so called democratic society."
So who is right on this occasion? Well. without being present at the initial 'banning' then we don't know. What I do know is that football clubs need their supporters and I remember the outcry when Mike Lewis mumbled an idea of banning people at the end of 2001, I was on that list as was Gary Martin and Tony Jenkins - Lewis had the same idea to get rid of those who dared speak (write) their mind.
A petition has been set up which you can sign on-line if you support David and you can find this by clicking this link.
The beauty of football is that you don't always have to agree with what is going on but every football supporter in the land is entitled to an opinion.
And also remember in this situation that it is less than 12 months since Mr Reynolds wife accused players of 'throwing matches' at a fan's forum resulting in most players walking out.
There are some that maybe should be allowed nowhere near a football club but supporters are not those people.

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