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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Open Letter to ICT From Anna-Athene Bown-Lowe

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An Open Letter To Inverness Caledonian Thistle

Whilst Inverness Caledonian Thistle is a club that I hold very dear to my heart and one that I am fiercely proud to support, one phenomenon that has struck me over the years is how particularly fickle and unsupportive its general fanbase is.

From staunch regulars who attend with admirable loyalty every single game only to hurl insults and abuse at their own players for every minor scruple, to singing stands that become devoid of supporters after anything more than one loss in a row.

And this has been incredibly apparent in the feelings towards Billy Dodds.

When the club has been doing well, the general sentiment has been ‘Good old Dodds’ and ‘Pride of the Highlands’.

But when the club has been in a rut, due to mass injury or – most recently – a brand new squad of mostly young and more inexperienced players, it’s always been ‘Get him out’ and ‘What a joke’.

Never have I been part of a fanbase (of a smaller club) that has been so quick and eager to switch sides, so ready to bask in the glory when it comes and then immediately point fingers after a poor run.

However, despite all that, Billy Dodds has been an incredibly good manager for the club and so whilst – after the more recent losses – I had been beginning to dread hearing calls for his release, I was in shock when I heard the news.

I don’t think ‘devastated’ begins to cover my feelings towards the situation.

I was rather young when I found my love for Caley Thistle, and so to me it feels like Billy Dodds has always been at Inverness…He is Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Part of the package.

When talking about them he always called the team ‘His boys’.

And they were.

He has shaped them, supported them and brought them on.

He has made the team what it is.

So it feels like nothing short of an insult to ‘thank’ Dodds for his work, acknowledge all that he has done and then send him packing.

Immediately forgotten are reaching the playoffs against St Johnstone and holding our own for the first half, or the reaching of the Scottish Cup final against no less than Celtic.

The only thing prevalent to a lot of people in the last few weeks is that we haven’t won a game.

And whilst that isn’t brilliant, it is understandable.

The players are, first and foremost, human.

Performance will fluctuate.

In addition, the team was flooded at the start of this season with many young players who have less experience and have never played together before.

So it came as no surprise to me that the team didn’t immediately click and functioned smoothly without hiccups.

I don’t think there are many managers in existence who could take a team of players in their late teens/early twenties, who have never played together before, put them on a pitch and cruise to the top of the table.

In fact, the only way I could see that happening is with a lot of luck.

Or, for the more human of us, time and patience – something which all too often is caught lacking in football.

It is an unforgiving sport that scorns second chances and ‘room for development’.

This is extremely prevalent in the Premier league, and I am sorrowful that it has begun to seep into Scottish football.

However, that has not always been the case – Sir Alex Ferguson was almost fired from Manchester United after some terrible performances, but the club stuck with him, they pulled through and he became the most successful Premier League manager in history.

So I can’t help wondering what could have been if the mitigating circumstances had been taken into account, along with the many successes that Dodds has had as manager, and if the club had just had a bit more patience.

Personally as a staunch supporter of ICTFC, I feel fervently that I owe Billy Dodds an incredible debt of gratitude for all that he has done for us, and I wish him all the best and many successes in his career going forward, which I firmly believe he deserves.

I can’t help feeling this is the end of an era.

And to the fans at Inverness – be proud of your club.

Be proud to support it whether we finish top or bottom.

Treat the players and manager with respect, because nobody likes to have their every mistake pointed out, especially by those that are meant to be on their side.

And, finally, don’t be afraid to stick by somebody even if they are not performing at their best.

Because nobody can be perfect 100% of the time, but that doesn’t mean that they weren’t brilliant in the past, and won’t be again in the future.

It’s all about hope, compassion and support – regardless of the numbers on the scoresheet. 

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