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League Two

Sammy McIlroy's Blog 10

24 October 2012

Like many others, it makes me sad that we're still talking about tackling racism in football in 2012. The game has made so much genuine progress over the years in dealing with the problem but the sobering truth is we haven't quite got over the finishing line and there is still work to be done.

This week's news of a possible breakaway black players' association reflects this. There are obviously current black players out there who are frustrated and angry with what they see as Kick It Out's recent failings and I think you'd have to be short sighted not to accept that they have a genuine grievance.

My opinion is that while these players should definitely speak out, it would be damaging to create a new union. There is always strength in numbers and I believe that if everyone in football is united, we can make more of an impact on racism. That's merely my view and I'm sure there will be those who disagree.

I can understand the frustrations 100 per cent. Racism in any form is totally unacceptable and while I hope all the different parties can ultimately come together and speak with one voice again, any player who is the victim of racism has to feel that they will be fully supported and something will be done.

The maddening, depressing thing is I remember my days as a player when bananas were thrown onto pitches. We have come so far since then but I'm not kidding myself that we now live in a perfect world. We don't and while it's sad to have to have this conversation, it's vital that we do.

As a manager I wore my Kick It Out badge and my players wore the T-shirts but I never insisted they did. I explained the importance of the cause but it was a matter for their own conscience. Not one of them refused but the players who did this weekend cannot have done so lightly and football cannot ignore their protest.

On a lighter note, I read that some of the Football League's managers attended a Pro Licence course last week focusing on how to deal with the stresses of the job. It made me chuckle because while I think it's good to acknowledge the stress of management, I'm not sure anyone can ever have one without the other.

For me, any decent manager lives and breathes for the job. Some might enjoy the odd round of golf but basically you are thinking about the team and the club 24/7 and I was rarely able to switch off and really relax. And it doesn't matter at what level you are managing, the role is all consuming.

The best bit of advice I could give younger managers is to talk. I was constantly discussing the games, the players and the tactics with my assistants and I found that talking was the only way I could get at least some of the baggage out of my system. It can be a tough job being an assistant, especially when you're part coach and part agony aunt.

On the pitch, Tuesday proved to be a good night for Aldershot Town with their 2-1 victory against Southend United at Roots Hall, a result which ended a seven-match losing streak. The Shots desperately needed those three points and I bet Dean Holdsworth enjoyed his best night's sleep for a while after the match.

The win didn't move them out of the bottom two but Aldershot should take heart as they look up above them at the table and realise how ridiculously tight things are. Gillingham and Port Vale have put some distance between themselves and the rest and Barnet are in real danger of being cut loose at the bottom but everything else is amazingly close.

Look at it this way, the Shots are only 10 points adrift of the Play-Off places. AFC Wimbledon are 21st but they're only 11 points off third. There's just so little to choose between so many teams.

You'd have to be a fool to think you predict results in npower League 2 at the moment but if you could, you'd make a fortune on the pools.

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