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THE SAM MORSHEAD COLUMN: Wray a hard act to follow
7:00am Saturday 20th October 2012 in Sport
I’M NOT sure that anyone without a direct line to Andrew Black could have foreseen the news that was about to smear itself all over Swindon Town on Monday morning.
In Jeremy Wray, the Robins had a chairman who - from the outside looking in - had done little to nothing wrong during his 18-month tenure of the club.
While some disagreed with his appointment of Paolo Di Canio on political grounds and others may not have approved of his decision to allow Luke McCormick to train with the squad, most will quite rightly see the abundance of positives he brought to our small Wiltshire club.
Under him, in a process which we must not forget was started by Andrew Fitton in 2008, Town made the steady transition from also-rans with minimal national prominence to a houshold name.
In that respect Wray has been a Simon Cowell sort of chairman, thrusting the club into the public spotlight with a series of bold and ambitious ideas.
And how we’ve revelled in it.
I have banged on and on and on in the past about sustainability and the need for the club to be able to survive when major players are gone.
At all times Wray has insisted that this “legacy”, to use the 2012 buzz word, is in place. And I have no reason to doubt him.
During my time at the Advertiser, before and throughout his time as chairman, he has been open, honest and accessible.
I cannot speak for the other 71 clubs in the Football League but I can’t imagine that a great number of men in similar positions would be available for comment at 7.30am and 10.30pm.
He has personally criticised this newspaper in the past, and at times we have not seen eye to eye, but that is no basis for me to slander a man whose public and private personas are one and the same.
He, like Andrew Fitton, has worked wonders at the County Ground. And for that we must all say thank you.
But those who instantly assume that his departure will cue some sort of nuclear meltdown at the club do his successor, Sir William Patey, a huge disservice.
The man is a mightily successful diplomat, a man whose business contacts stretch from Bristol to Baghdad, a man who has been entrusted by Prime Ministers with guiding embassies through troubled times.
While Di Canio and Wray enjoyed a close, perhaps unforgeable bond, just because the latter has gone it should not mean that the former is an odds-on favourite to jump ship.
If that was the case it would be a massive weakness in the Swindon manager’s character, and something potential employers would hold against him for some, if not the rest of his managerial career.
Sir William, like Jeremy Wray, takes charge of a complex and fragile top shelf at Swindon Town.
He will have to learn to be the press officer, firefighter and translator that his predecessor could shift almost effortlessly between.
But give him time. Blimey, the guy hadn’t yet been officially unveiled as chairman by the club and the doom-mongers and nay-sayers had their axes wielded and their knives sharpened.
Put them away! Calm down. And carry on.