Manager Steve Cuggy seemed to appease the fans when defending his decision to release Robert Dale, during last night’s Open Forum.
Just five days after the talismanic forward had been released, it was expected to be one of the main talking points ahead of the meeting.
And when the time for the “Big question” arrived, the new manager explained why Dale was no longer at the club.
Cuggy said: “The reason Gavin and me have made the decision goes back to the very first training session we took. We had 26 or 27 players there and we made it clear to everybody that it was a clean slate; people who had no reputation had every chance to impress and people with reputations had everything to lose.
“I don’t believe Robbie stepped up to the mark. I’ll be perfectly honest.
“People can say it’s only a few friendly games, but it’s not just a few friendly games; it was probably 15-18 training sessions as well.”
However, Cuggy did admit it was a mistake to terminate Dale’s tenure on the phone.
Cuggy said: “I’ve held my hands up and admitted I made a mistake. I accept that I should have done it face-to-face for a lad that’s been here for seven years. I made a mistake, I’ve accepted that and I’ll learn from it.”
Gavin Fell also explained the decision was not as unexpected as some supporters thought.
Fell said: “We also had a conversation with Robbie two weeks prior to that face-to-face and, to be fair; it was pretty much laid on the line. We actually told him at that point ‘you’ve got two weeks to really prove yourself’.
“Additional training sessions were put on, but what I said was that it’s not down to me to want that training session. We cannot want it more than the player.
“So, what I basically said to Robbie was, if you want me to come along, I’d quite happily come down every single day of the week if it’s a case that we need to get you fit.”
The assistant manager then explained that, although he offered further training sessions for the forward, he did not force Dale to attend.
Fell said: “I got a phone call once, so I thought ‘OK, I’m not going to keep going on and on’.”
The new management team then assured the fans that it had been hard for them to let Dale leave the club.
Fell said: “Don’t think for one minute that this was an easy decision for us, because we know what Robbie Dale means to Blyth Spartans.”
Cuggy added: “The easy decision – from our point of view – was to do nothing but, we’re not here to make easy decisions, we’re here to make what we think are the best decisions long-term.
“I made a decision based on the collective and I think the collective that we’re going to end up with is going to be good for Blyth Spartans.”
Fans were also made aware that Dale’s release had nothing to do with trying to secure the signing of Whitley Bay forward Lee Kerr.
Cuggy said: “Kerr was not a swap for Robbie Dale. He was what we saw as the icing on the cake to a pretty good squad that we’ve got already.
“As regards to replacing Robbie Dale, it’s a much bigger thing than that. We’ve had to replace a whole squad, so we’ve had to replace Brayson, Turnbull and Tait and now we’ll have to replace Robbie.
“We’ve brought in Vipond, Emms, Phillips and Armstrong and the way Lee Mason has gone on, he deserves a shot – on merit – so we think we’ve got five to replace them four already. If we’d added Kerr to that; great. It didn’t happen, so we move on.”
The audience in attendance were then told the reason why Kerr had not joined the club.
Cuggy said: “We had an agreement with Whitley Bay on Sunday night and we had an agreement with Kerr before that really. Whitley Bay had even allowed him to come along and train with us and have a look at the facilities.
“Something came to light on Monday, which meant Kerr had to pull out for personal reasons.”
Chairman Tony Platten shared the manager’s disappointment at not signing Kerr, but also explained why the situation would have been unworkable.
Mr Platten said: “It was a personal issue, which meant he’d be unable to play on some of our long away trips. When you’re signing players at this level on a contract, you look into everything that could possibly make the wheel fall off.
“We were disappointed, as he’s rated as a very good player but, clearly, that was unacceptable for us.”