Meetings With BFC Oakwell

Published on March 3rd, 2016 | by Ben Lockwood

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Barnsley FC Fans Engagement Forum – Review

 

On Wednesday 26th February, Patrick Cryne, Ben Mansford and Beth Sefton met with various Barnsley FC fans associated with different supporter groups to give an update on all recent happenings at Oakwell.

Below you can read through a detailed transcript of what was discussed.

 

Adam Hamill’s Tackle

BEN MANSFORD: The club won’t be appealing his red card.

 

What are the lessons learned from Wembley ticketing?

BEN MANSFORD: Ticketmaster contract allows us the venue master software with the interactive seating. This costs us a  small licence fee but the contract states that if you get to a Wembley final or fa cup final they will take the pressure of selling 40K tickets in a couple of weeks.

We are fortunate that Oxford are with Ticketmaster so their mechanism is the same as ours although their age concession is 65 and we’re 60

The first morning we had 750 in the queue, on line, waiting. We sold in blocks in the manner which Wembley told us to. The football league and sponsors are precious about Wembley looking barren so Wembley want you to sell in certain blocks. What was unhelpful was that ticket master spotted on the Monday night that 177 supporters were overcharged by 10 pounds because a concession price was set wrong. They were refunded. A few fans got on and wanted to buy early and couldn’t get the price or area that they wanted and 10-15 have complained to the club and have been looked after.

 

BETH SEFTON: Overwhelmingly, the majority of the feedback has been positive with fans thanking the club saying this has been so much easier. “Welcome to 2016.”

 

BEN MANSFORD: I’ve Challenged people in the organisation to see if they can find a ticketing organisation that will let us bring the amount of money in to the club for such a low cost to the club.

The Box office and club shop have been restructured. We now have 4 staff on rotation with 2 in at a time. How you ask those 2 staff to process that amount of tickets? Ticketmaster had 50 people on the phone allocated to us.

The downside was that ticket master probably have youngsters ,students etc in the call centre that they aren’t as pro- Barnsley customer care as club staff would have been so there were a few times when ticket prices were wrong or tickets were sold in the wrong area and Ticketmaster pointed fans at the club in these circumstances who rectified the issue.

Wembley want you to sell in a certain block order. Season tickets buy first but because Wembley want you to sell certain blocks in the certain order for the look of the day (on TV). Season ticket holders, therefore, get shoe horned into the certain areas if they want to buy earlier. When the interactive seating map comes on for general sale it’s a bit perverse because as it opens up to general sale you want a bit more flexibility. That’s fine for the JPT because we won’t sell our 40K but if that was a playoff or FA cup final then season ticket holders would want to be guaranteed they get there ticket. Apart from that it has gone pretty well. This is the way now with the area of ticketing in football and I don’t believe we will be able to go away from it.

 

Coach Prices – Why are the club coaches costing so much? Why the booking fee?

 

BETH SEFTON: Club always said if you book through ticket master they will charge 2.40 booking fee (even though club process this)

It says online please don’t order at the same time otherwise you will be charged a ticket booking fee. (Club asked them not to)

2 people have contacted the club and they have been refunded. If anyone has done this they can come into the store and they will get a  refund. The club have sold 25 coaches. The slight issue the club has is when they ring up for a coach companies get giddy and put on a premium when they try and source 25 coaches plus. We know national express are doing 30 quid but you’ll end up in Victoria. You can also go on the megabus

BFC FAN: How much are you being charged?

It varies – depends how far they are coming in from. We’ve stopped as they got to 2K (coming in from afar). Averages out at £1750.

 

BFC FAN: – £1150 a coach + 65 parking.

BETHSEFTON: So it looks a little bit heavy but with we’ve had balance out bringing in that many coaches. The coaches are not a money maker. Roy mentioned he had cut his off after 2 for similar reasons. First 2 were usual prices but extras then prices were rocketing.

BEN MANSFORD: when we’ve had to average that out over 25 coaches. We don’t’ do it as a money maker really.

BFC FAN: It’s not Gordon’s that have done that for you?

BEN MANSFORD:With the amount of business they have they only physically have so many (coaches). Once they starting pulling them in 30 or 40 miles. To be fair to with Gordons they do what they can but there name is synonymous with BFC. We can’t deny what we are doing or where we are going.

 

Has it been considered to let Rimmo to lead time team out at Wembley?

Not something that has been discussed. Patrick will invite Norman to come as one of club guests on the day.

All being well, it will be Paul that leads the team out.

 

How will the club shop cash in on the trip to Wembley?

BEN MANSFORD: For the home replica shirt, we are where we are. Small number of home but more away have been priced competitively.

Have brought in the walk out jacket which has been branded which has gone incredibly well. Half sold already. Same warm up t-shirt and quarter zip. Pools and shirts. Tried to do something for everyone. T-shirt from a tenner right up to 50 with jacket . Flag jesters hats scarfs. Scarfs reordered already. Foam fingers are arriving for the kids (and Beth)

So I think we are doing as much as we can but we have tried to look at what we’ve sold in the past. Got the stuff on pre-order early. A lot of puma stuff went early. Polo shirts are in. The Alhambra have offered the club one of three pods as you go in for 2 weeks from the Monday of the Easter holidays. So we are going to launch that with toby tyke and player appearances. Put a couple of players down there 2-3 to sign autographs. Also looking at Laurie and Barry Murphy the to show youngsters round the club in the school holidays and they the tour ends up back in the shop and will do one or two of those over Easter. Did one last week. Put 300 spaces in over a day and they sell out (they’re free) within 2 days. Lot of relieved parents and grandparents can kill a couple of hours.

I believe we are set up as well as we can but we have got to be careful. It’s a great financial bonus. We don’t want stuff left on the shelf. We can get a lot of stuff on repeat order quickly

 

What is the Wembley game worth?

BEN MANSFORD: Maybe somewhere between 300-400K depending on how ticketing goes but until we see the absolute final figures (and a lot is split out after the game and with the JPT its linked to tickets sales). Prize money is small but it’s mainly the fact that oxford have done over 27K and we’ve done over 20K and probably 22K by the time staff etc. have filled their forms. If we go over 50K that would be a good day and a lot smaller teams wouldn’t take those

 

 

Patrick, what is the situation with the search for head coach? Is there a search for a head coach?

PATRICK CRYNE: No not really. The view that we’ve taken is that we shouldn’t rush into matters because anything we do needs to be considered. If you are not careful you will make a decision that impacts the future on the basis of things that are happening now. Win a few matches and the pressure is to appoint Hecky. Lose a few matches and the pressure is to get someone in and I think it’s better, in the interests of the football club, to continue the plan we’ve put into place which  is really around how we develop the talent in our club and how we recruit talent into our club and how we coach that talent so that it has value, both in terms of transfer potential and in the contribution made by these players on the pitch. So the important thing, when we do appoint someone, is that they can work with the plan that we have put in place which we think  is now starting to pay dividends. So what we have said to the players is business as usual. To Hecky what we are saying is step up.  It’s not a big step because his role with Lee was substantive. To Tommy we’ve said carry on doing the role you’ve been doing.  We’ve moved people up behind the first team management to work with the u21s and u18s so I don’t see any need to rush to judgement.  We didn’t rush into decisions when we were on the bad losing run, so there’s no need to rush while things are a little better.  Sometimes you have to let things take their considered course with the intention of protecting the things that you have got going for you.  Things worked out reasonable well in relation to Lee johnson.  It would have cost money to pay him off and by waiting suddenly someone pays a premium to take him. In that losing run, the immediacy of the results was important, but so was the future of Barnsley football club and getting a platform to be better and be a more competitive team in the future.  We won’t change the title from head coach to manager to satisfy anyone or to deal with the speculation that occurs because you’ve called someone head coach. What we’ve tried to say in our football club is that the important thing is to develop talent and recruit talent and to get people who can do that and to focus them  on doing that. And that’s the approach we are going to take going forwards. To be considered in our judgements and take the decisions at the right time particularly, because otherwise emotion and sentiment will get in the ways of good planning and sustained development of that plan.

BFC FAN: On that issue is what I can say I’ve never known the reaction like we’ve got now. No names being mentioned. Everyone in total agreement with the club. No negative feedback all positive.

PATRICK CRYNE: I think that is natural. In football, everything is subordinate to the results in the mind of a fan.  It shouldn’t be any different, because fans are buying a product, not just slavishly supporting their heritage club, and if that product is awful they should be free to complain. As a club management we have to  listen to that criticism but not always be driven by it, because one minute people might say this is the worse Barnsley team ever.  Then when we win a few the praise can make us complacent unless we are clear where we are trying to get to.  For our fans, Barnsley FC is their heritage and the demand is for the team to be competitive, especially in this division.  It is a matter of pride.  By the way, this is not the worst Barnsley team I’ve seen. I can name quite a few others, even in recent years. I think the team that took us down from the championship was one of the worst teams I’ve seen in every aspect. We were simply not up for the fight with players who lacked personal ambition. This was the very thing that said to me that things must change. As management we must stop being driven by the results alone and stop being pulled from pillar to post in decision making by the results alone. Fans are free to express their views. But we have to say on the management side is, is it right to respond to current clamour?  Or is it right to hold course.  During Lee Johnsons ‘s period of losses we were able to say we think the plan is good,  lets stick with the plan. Let’s not do what we’ve done before and knee jerk into a sacking.  If you keep repeating the same mistakes you don’t get any better. You have to accept that we have made some bad mistake in the past and we must not repeat them.  Let’s run with something that will sustain and produce an ever improving team.  So when we get back to the Championship we can be competitive rather than be caught up in the annual fight to avoid relegation.

 

PATRICKCRYNE: What I have seen in this team is character. You could argue that it might not be good enough but if it doesn’t lie down.  We have some good players in key positions and some good loanees that need to be replaced in due course with players from the academy or new recruits.  What struck me particularly was the Sheffield United game. We go 1-0 down and our fans sing “we lose every week, your nothing special, we lose every week” with as much passion as they ever sang.  Then Sheff United get a corner and we’re defending it and our fans are singing “We’re shit and we know we are”.  So that pressure is on those players. If that had been the relegation team, they would have been on the floor but we carried on fighting and we get a draw and in getting a draw we miss a penalty as well. We could have won that game. So they maintain their character and fight all the way through that. You can make arguments that our playing formation was wrong and we made some bad loans and other things. You can’t make an argument that the current team has lacked fight and character. I can’t identify a game apart from Rochdale away, when we had the reaction from the Everton game, where we got done and we weren’t in the fight.  I remember going to Coventry and Coventry could score at will in that game. Every time they needed to score they scored, they went  1-0 up 2-0 2-1 3-1 up 3-2  4-2, 4-3 up.  If we’d have got another they might have got another themselves because on that night we couldn’t deal with their quality but we didn’t lie down. We carried on. I can’t think of a game where we weren’t showing that sort of attitude. And the interesting thing is, in that team we have kids, essentially. Kids who have got their future in front of them NOT journey men whose career is  behind them,  And  you look at Mawson and you think that guy is going to be worth money, look at Hourihane and you think that guys is worth money, you look at Winnall, Bree etc. they are worth money. And then even when you take out all the ones that might not make you money, you think are they worth having a Barnsley shirt on them. And they are.

Look at George Williams in the last few games…  He was MOTM the other night in my view ( but I don’t know anything about football). He was man of the match and you think he’s a right back  and he’s playing left back. Why is he playing so well? It’s because he’s got character, because he’s got athleticism, it’s because he cares. Not only for Barnsley FC, but about also about his own career, because it’s just starting not ending.  He  wants to be as good as he possibly can be. I think where we are positioned is good, virtually all of our players think like that.  I think that’s what causing a little bit of euphoria. Not the results or the performances always. The fans are starting to look over the horizon a little bit too. If we are in the position where we can keep the players we have got, the good players, Scowen, Hourihane, Winnall, Watkins etc. for the next campaign and we can persuade Hammill and White to stay then that might not be a half bad side.  Then we need to keep adding players. There are some good ones coming through the academy. We used to be a full back factory but now we have got goalkeepers, midfielders and strikers starting to emerge as well. We’re recruiting early from non-league so that we can seek to develop those players. Getting them early so they are not costing too much. If they don’t make it we can recycle them back to non-league. If they do develop they can make a valuable  contribution  to Barnsley’s situation. There’s reason for optimism. That doesn’t mean to say we going to win the JPT or we’ll finish in the top 6 but it means we have got a platform to build on that’s what excites me at the moment.

 

It’s been mentioned persuading some players to stay. Have there been any conversations yet with any of those players you mentioned?

Not particularly because you have to recognise that these things are deals to be done and there’s a natural timing to do a deal and some of the players that have played well for us will look to move up the pyramid as quick as they can because that’s the type of players we want. So there’s a natural timing to these things and it will be in the summer when we’ll sit down to have conversations to extend the players we want to extend and to try and retain the ones we want going forward. In the interim, what’s happening is that the football side is getting into the heads of these players to spell out how their career can be embellished here and how the timing of their move can be improved to their advantage by spending more time here. But that sort of thing is going on. You wouldn’t be able to get an agent of a player to sit down at this point to do a deal. We are keen to extend our better players and keep the ones that have made a difference.

 

In the statement when Lee Johnson left, it talked about the structures in place around the head coach. Can you tell us a bit about these structures?

PATRICK CRYNE: When we recruited Lee Johnson, we did some of this with Danny, we said if we are trying to bring players through the academy then we have to make sure all the academy teams play with a single philosophy. The philosophy adopted for the first team. One of the things we did we was to have a conversation with Lee Johnson and one of the things he asked was how should a Barnsley team play? It was articulated that the ideal Barnsley team would attack down the flanks with interchange between the full backs and the wingers in an ideal. The centre backs are going to be mobile and they are going to carry the ball out and the midfield is going to get ahead of the strikers so you have advantage in numbers in the final third. So that’s how we wanted to play. Well LJ said we can’t. Look at your team you haven’t got the players who can do that. If you want your CB to be mobile then they have to have pace with a good first touch. If midfielders have to get forward they have to have to be able to manipulate the ball at pace. If you want this interchange between full back and wingers they need pace, touch and attacking skills.  So the DNA characteristics of  a Barnsley player must include pace, touch, ball manipulation and an ability to read the game and adapt through good decision making. So you start off with having a philosophy of how you want to play. Recognise you don’t have the players to do it and your recruitment targets players in accordance with your philosophy. You know you will be able to coach some of the necessary skills into your young players who are in the learning phase of their career.  You’ll get some from your academy in due course so the academy has to recruit and play to the same footballing philosophy. If you pick someone from the u21s and play them in the first team you want them to slot in. So what we are doing is moving around the coaches to put the right ones in the right places. You don’t want to impose that philosophy on an 8 year old but you would on a scholar (16 year old). So moving the coaches around to get the right coaches in the right places. So that’s part of the support structure

Then if we are going to recruit players in we need to say to the head coach, “what do you need in terms of information to help you recruit?” In that sense, you will hear Heckingbottom referring to the recruitment dept. It’s his recruitment department and what it does is capture for him football intelligence about every single player in the football league, in the conference down to north and south and the upper echelons of the evostick. Every single player is held and how they are preforming according to intelligence we gather from ratings, from screen scraping soccerbase from getting information from transfer market, again screen scraping that, because it holds info about how effective someone is. We look for all the sources of performance information.  Now the way some fans have sought to interpret this is that this is somebody else is making the decisions on behalf of the head coach but this is the head coach’s recruitment department. Because the head coach cannot be expected to know every footballer that plays. Especially, if they are emerging into the conference. So we now know for example that the head coach will be told, if a 17 year old breaks into a conference side, The manager will then ask for the information, get the information and send people out to scout players so we can either rule them in or rule them out on the basis of have they got the DNA attributes to be a Barnsley player, playing under the philosophy we’ve articulated. That information will then be put into the system but that systems is the head coach’s system. Now, that doesn’t stop the head coach having discretion to bring people in who fall outside of that intelligence. They might fall outside of the defined attributes but the head coach can still make a decision, ok this guy doesn’t fit the DNA, he doesn’t actually enhance our playing philosophy but we can’t get there in one step so he is an interim measure. Let’s put the player in as an interim measure until we do get someone coming through who can play in that position. I can give you two examples of where the head coach has used his discretion . Keith Treacy (Danny Wilson). Connor Wilkinson (LJ). So they got those players. I then complain afterwards that they are rubbish because that’s my right too, just as most of the fans agree with me that those players were abject. The support structure is that he’s got the intelligence to make the decisions. He’s got the intelligence to extend his reach beyond his immediate knowledge. He’s got the scouting staff that he can send to the places he wants. He also goes to places to watch players. LJ did this enormously, he went everywhere but so does the Tommy. So that is what we call the infrastructure. Now Ben and I don’t add much to that. If the manager or head coach says we’re interested in recruiting this player then we’ll find out what the terms are for getting that player, if we can get them at all, and we’ll look at those terms and see if they are affordable. And we might say no and that’s our prerogative but we might say yes and invariably we have said yes even if there’s a fee involved. So we paid a fee for mawson , hourihane, scowen etc.  That’s the structure that supports the head coach and he makes the decision and stands or falls by his decisions.  What we’ve put in place is supportive of the head coach to give him the tools to do the job and then stand back and see what he brings to us and hopefully that makes us a better team.

I can tell you a story. It’s the anniversary of my mother’s death, not a sad thing so don’t feel that you have to get all sombre about it. I loved my mother, I mean I really loved my mother and If there had been a spreadsheet of who loved their mother most, I’d be at the top of that spreadsheet. Now when she got towards the end of her life, the last couple of months, I would go and sit with her and she was so unwell she couldn’t eat or talk without getting tired. And often we’d sit until it got dark.  She was blind so it didn’t make any difference to her and we’d sit there in the dark. During those times with her she might only say two or three things during the course of the evening, because everything was exhausting to her. She’d say something like, “Hilda’s died” and I’d think is that a cat, is that a person?  I might say, “that’s sad” and she’d say, “Yes there’s not many of us left now” and that would be the sum total of the conversation in the evening.  On another occasion I might say, “It’s cold out tonight” and she would say, “make sure you wrap up”.  And this was fantastic this period, absolutely fantastic, just me and her in the dark saying nothing, just being together. Now, I go one night and we’re sat there and I’m waiting for her, I’m sort of going to let her make the first effort and she said to me “Who picks the Barnsley team?”.  I said “Why do you ask that mother?”. “Well my health visitor says its James” <laughter>.  I said “Don’t you worry about it mother, don’t you worry”. And after that, right up to the time when she went into hospital, and subsequently died, among the one or two things she would say in those loving evenings was, “Is James still picking the team?”  <joking> And of course the answer was yes!<joking>

Now the answer is of course “no” but this is how much this thing invaded my life. I said “no”  in the old number 7 and nobody believed me. It’s a “monstrous lie”, I said pompously. The structure is to help the head coach and that is the sum total of it. After James supposedly picked the team, it was then Ben, because he used to be an agent. (BEN MANSFORD: that was when we had an upturn).

 

PATRICK CRYNE: I nearly put a bit in there, when I was talking sentimentally about my mother, and I always talk sentimentally about my mother. I nearly said, I love my mother more now that she’s dead than I did when she was alive, if that doesn’t seem strange, that’s because I have distilled my entire relationship with my mother and left just the essence of all the beautiful things. And I thought, I won’t say that because somebody will put onto the web board that “Cryne’s glad his mother is dead”<laughing> BECAUSE YOU CAN’T WIN!

 

Is the season ticket instalment plan back in place?

 BEN MANSFORD: Another meeting this week. 90% sure that there will be a five and ten months plan again

 

Have you thought about prices for next season?

Probably similar to this season but I’d like to help people buy online more.

 

Can we have a shirt design competition (like Donny did)?

We are pretty much there for next year but as we maybe go into our 3rd or 4th year with Puma it’s a good fan engagement tool and now that the kit has to be signed off that far ahead it wouldn’t be much fun. It’s is a good idea and has gone one down well at  Doncaster. It’s a little bit difficult to do something with our home kit. Away kits yellow seems to go down well but you can’t do it every year. Next year is set as we had to be that a little while back. It’s a good idea but we’ll almost certainly be leaving the badge just the way it is.

BM-> PATRICKCRYNE:  – you did warn me didn’t you?

 

 

Are there any stadium improvements planned for the Summer? Do the club know the cost of any potential stadium improvements, such as an extension to the north side of the East Stand to accomoade a children’s activity area, or a fit out of the unfinished mezzanine to create the above and/or proper supporters bar? If the club could give the fans the costings for these it it possible that athe Supporters’ Trust/WSB could attempt to raise money to fund these things, which would then be a huge boos to the ‘experience’ for supporters.

BEN MANSFORD:Aware of the scoreboard .It would be amiss for us to have this meeting and not mention it. There have been other more pressing matters for finance. I think in the summer we would look at that but wouldn’t want to make any promises. I’d be sad if that scoreboard disappeared its synonymous with my time here.

The supporters bar  - capital outlay would be considerable I know towards the end of its time as a supports bar, before my time, it need money to keep it in decent repair. I think it’s unlikely we would spend anything on. Please what we’ve done with the ozone (Redfearn’s). I think that has worked. I think that’s as far as we can go as we don’t have any space

 

 

Patrick, you’ve talked about wanting away from the club and getting the club on an even keel. Is that something you’ve changed your mind about?

PATRICK CRYNE: No I will go as soon as is consistent with ensuring the club is in a safe position. I think, it’s funny actually because I looked at the poll on the BBS and I was sort of thinking 79% wanted me to stay and 21% wanted me to go and I kind of took comfort at that. And then I thought about it. 21% wanted me to go even if Matt Dunham came back! Because they are voting me out without any knowledge of the alternative.  That means the other 79% are probably wanting to identify what the option before they decide to vote me out too.<joking>  I think it’s right that you should pass on the custodianship at the right time and I think a lot of things we have put in place with the support structure is to get to self-sufficiency so we will do some trading to balance the books at the right time. I thought If we could do this correctly, create value, optimise that value and then trade it, that’s the only way that you can really sustain a football club properly without wealth behind it. If you look at league one in the last year that accounts were published,  4 clubs made profits and it was Peterborough who made profits ahead of anyone else because they unashamedly trade players even at the expense of promotion. They are in that game, it would seem to me. The other three that made profits, the profits were incidental but the next highest was Oldham but this was because they traded somebody and it got them into profitability. Other than that it’s pretty dire in league one. Let me give you a statistic, the average wage for a player in league one is just short of 1800 quid per week. For a player in the championship its 9k a week which is why you can’t get someone to step down unless they are past it. And why everyone wants to leave you if they possible can. Who wouldn’t.  A football player has a short lifetime of high earnings. In that life time, they’ll finish playing  at 32/33 and  must have earned enough money to keep them going until they are 70 or whatever. So you can understand their motivations. So we have to get into that kind of position. And I look at my own personal vulnerability, that if I stay on too long and go under a bus, proverbial or real, (maybe) one of these 25 coaches going to Wembley, then that would be detrimental to the continuance of the club. I consider myself a custodian so It’s my job, having inherited it in unfortunate circumstances, to hand it on in a better condition to someone else whoever that is, whether that be supporters or someone else. We’ve just reported our last year’s accounts , we lost £2.8m which came out of my pocket, before that 2m, before that 2m before that made a profit of £1.9m because the player who shall not be named made a contribution to reduce our losses.   Some money came in for him.

Maybe, if some money comes in again this summer from the player who must not be named,  then maybe that’s the transitional time where I can say, “there you are fans, you can take this club because you have working capital going forward and you have clean banking”.

BFC FAN: How would that work though?

PATRICK CRYNE: I don’t know that’s another thing! Maybe the Tibetan yak millionaire comes in? What I’m saying is at some point we need to transition to new custodianship and that needs to be done at the right time.

 

One of our stalwarts who also played for oxford Mal Shotten isn’t too well. Can we do something jointly on the day with Oxford?

BEN MANSFORD: Will speak to the media team to see what we can do. We’ll speak to oxford to see what we can do. A lot of the protocol for the day is set out by the football league though.

 

Fleetwood cup game. Good to see the ground so full. Back in promo season was done for a rearranged game against Oldham. We’ve got them after wembley. Is there something we can do?

BEN MANSFORD: Probably one local ticket promotion left. Try and do something before the end of season. Fantastic to have 11411 here. Barnsley stumped up 11,000 and Fleetwood brought  400 and walked off with half the gate so I’m still a little bit bitter about that <joking>

 

Is the north stand still designed to be spilt?

BEN MANSFORD: Yes but the police bill is the problem. Worked hard this season to cut police bill in half.  That would incur a disproportionate amount of cost to revenue given how many empty seats there are.

BFC FAN: Could Barnsley fans be put purely in the north?

BEN MANSFORD: Certain issues putting away fans in the West.

BETH SEFTON: lack of disabled facilities being one of them which we must provide. For Yeovil we spoke to their one travelling disabled supporter who was happy to go in our corner stand)

 

 

 


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