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Before yesterdays game there was a long awaited “Fans Forum”, which allowed fans to talk to Accies chairman Allan Maitland, to bring up their concerns and discuss what they think could make the club better moving forward. Throughout the forum, there was a number of fantastic questions asked by supporters which were answered honestly by Maitland.
The 56-year-old was actually in charge of Accies as he was appointed manager in 2003, but left the club in 2004/05. He was appointed chairman of Hamilton in December 2018. To be fair to Allan, he listens to what the fans want and tries his best to make it happen, with an example being parting ways with Martin Canning.
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Ben Paterson, who runs the superb @OnlyAccies page, was unfortunately not able to film during the forum, so I’m more than happy to contribute by writing up his interview he had with the chairman afterwards. He asked questions based on what the fans wanted to know.
The chat amongst the Accies fans recently has been about how badly we are crying out for an experienced centre-back as it is glaringly obvious we are missing the likes of Matthew Kilgallon and Ziggy Gordon in the heart of the defence.
When the chairman was asked about if we would bring in the experienced defender we need he said:
“Last year we brought in 2. I was actually ultimately responsible for the paperwork of bringing them in, Matt Killgallon and big Delph. Our goal difference last season was horrendous, Absolutely horrendous, and that was with Gary as well so with 2 experienced centre backs and Gary Woods in goal we were getting too many hammerings last season. I’m not sure bringing another experienced centre back is the right thing for us. We certainly tried. We approached 2 or 3 people. They were wanting £3,000-£4,000. I can’t get another experienced centre back in Scotland, I really have to go down south for that. So the clubs we’ve approached, the people we have spoken too we haven’t managed that. As you’re obviously aware we need somebody so that’s why we brought Sam in. So as I said in the fan forum, Sam Stubbs was on Brian (Rice) list right from the start and for various reasons I said “No, he’s not ready he’s too young”. If we’re gonna do that we’ve got McKenna, Markus and the youth so let’s give them a run before we try and sign someone else. But Brian has always had his eye on him, he’s an organiser, he’s young but strong, tall, aggressive so that’s the reason we went with Sam.
The next question asked was based around the high quality of youth we have at Hamilton. We have seen the likes of Lewis Smith, Regan Mimnaugh and Ross Cunningham break through into the first team, so we asked Allan Maitland if George Stanger, Jamie Hamilton and Leon McCann will have their chance soon to help bolster our options at the back.
Maitland said ” Jamie has been unfortunate so far cause he’s right on the verge of the first team, But he’s not played and it’s hard cause you obviously need to be ready to get the experience. Jamie will be an absolute top player, of that there will be no doubt. He keeps just getting on the bench but not getting in the team yet. Jamie will develop to be a first team player. George, I feel, need’s more experience. But, we’d like him to go on loan for the first 6 months of the season. We’ve already got Markus, Ciaron, Easty and Sam so I’d like him to go on loan. We’ve discussed this with him. So when he was on loan before, when we brought him in from Stirling Albion, he went back there but he played in the middle of the park whereas we’d like him in defence. In the game the other night was the best I’d seen him play. He’s had a good preseason, he was away with New Zealand and did very well. They want him back later in the season for their next tournament and that will depend on where we see him at that stage.
Next up, was a question about former manager, Martin Canning. We asked the 59-year old why he decided to part ways with Canning, who had been the clubs manager for 4 years, as well as why he chose to appoint Brian Rice as the new Hamilton manager.
He Said: “Can I just clarify, when I became chairman people were clambering for me to sack Martin. I didn’t think that was right, I’m only in the door and I’m here to support but I wanted to try and support Martin as much as I possibly could certainly through the January window. But when I was talking to him, it became clearer and clearer that after 4 years and constantly fighting relegation that he was tired. It was a proper discussion between 2 adults so Martin left but it was after a proper discussion and not just a sacking. The 2nd thing, Brian Rice played for me at Clyde. So I know Brian and I’ve seen at loads of places as a number 2. I know his enthusiasm and when speaking to him recently he has mentioned the fact he finds other people lazy. He wants his own shot now and that ticked all the boxes for me. I know how he feels about bringing the youth through, how good his coaching is so when he applied for it, he immediately went to the top of the list.”
Allan also said:” A lot of people asked me about Tony Andreu and I half expected people to ask it today at the forum. At the end of last season I spoke to Tony and offered him a chance to stay. He was getting married on the 4th of June and I was saying that we need an answer before then because by the time you’re back we’ll be in preseason. Never heard from him for a couple weeks so I withdrew the offer. I think it’s important that we judge people on what they are not what they were before or what we’d like them to be.
Throughout the forum, fans and Maitland were talking about tying people down on longer contracts so we cant lose them on the cheap, with a prime example being Lewis Ferguson, where the chairman said Accies learned a lesson.
We asked why Mickel Miller only signed a one-year deal as he is one of our major players and if fans favourite Aaron McGowan will be getting a new deal as he enters his final season of his contract.
He admittedly stated: “Well, Mickel would like to go back down South. He’s homesick, to an extent, But both are big players for us so we want them to stay and develop. I’ll be speaking to them both again before too long but ultimately it’s their choice.
Aaron is one of those players who plays with his heart on sleeve and gives everything on the pitch so has became a real fan favourite and we would all love him to stay”.
We asked the former Accies manager about ticket prices as well as talking about giving out free tickets to the community and maybe also students to try make bring more people to New Douglas Park.
He said: ” When we go to Rangers and Celtic, how much do we pay? We are in a situation now where we’ve never overcharged and tried to be as fair as we possibly can but now we’re at the stage where money is very important in a football club and we are being charged more to go to other places. We’re replicating that.
Touching on free tickets for kids/students Maitland said ” I am discussing that at the moment. Historically, when we’ve done it we’ve had people turning up with student vouchers when their not so we’ve lost money from that, So I am raising this issue again because it has been brought up numerous times to me.
The final question in what was a very successful interview was when we asked “Where do you see the club in five years, Is there plan?”
He said ” I’ll tell you what it is, I see us being 150 years old. In that time I’d like us to be an even longer established premier league team, with our own players coming through and seeing an Accies side we can be proud of. If we can do that, we’ve succeeded