This week marks a particularly poignant time in the history of Swindon Town Football Club, as Australian owner Clem Morfuni celebrates a year at The County Ground helm.
It’s been a 12-months of unforgettable highs and just a few uncomfortable lows, but whichever way you look at things, Town have certainly come a long way in a relatively short space of time from the dark days of 2021.
The man behind arguably one of the most turbulent transformations in English football continues to pull out all the stops with his cool and calm persona, but the bottom line is, Clem Morfuni has not only rebuilt a broken League Two football club, but brought an entire town together and galvanised communities.
Dealing with the mess left by the Power regime was one mammoth task, but bringing success on the pitch alongside it almost seemed impossible to begin with, but the debate will still continue around the if, buts and maybe’s of the clubs unfortunate play-off semi-final exit, and if we had beaten Port Vale, many think a win at Wembley would have been written in the stars.
Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, but despite the end of season heartbreak after all the excitement of an incredible final run-in, the departure of manager Ben Garner and some of the players who followed him to The Valley, there’s still many reasons to feel excited about the new campaign with former assistant coach Scott Lindsey stepping into the hotseat and thirteen new signings to date.
Speaking to the Town Media Team, Morfuni continued his modest approach when asked about his thoughts on the past year, paying tribute to everyone that has helped the club to this day.
“The past twelve months have been a bit of a whirlwind. It’s gone incredibly fast but I’ve enjoyed every minute and met some amazing people.
“From sitting with the supporters away at Scunthorpe United for our first game to playing Manchester City in the FA Cup, to driving trucks around town and playing football with fans on a Wednesday evening and pulling pints in the local pubs, I really feel part of this town.
“A big aim for me when taking over was to get people to The County Ground that had never been before to embrace what we offer. I feel we achieved this, not just with adults, but with children as well. I feel we are a club that appeals to everyone now, and that’s really important.
“It’s not just down to me though. There’s no way we would have achieved what we have without the hard work, dedication and passion by everyone behind the scenes, our players, fans and the Foundation – it’s been a real team effort and I couldn’t have done it without them.”
With praise aplenty for all those who were at the club when things went horribly wrong and those who have joined the rehabilitation journey, the Australian is the first to admit there’s a lot more work to be done, but nevertheless, more high points to come as well.
Despite sharing his time between Wiltshire and Sydney, Clem is working hard to get The County Ground purchase over the line alongside some ambitious plans to revitalise and develop the academy and build some solid foundations for our men’s and women’s teams.
And all this builds on the club seeing some of their highest home attendances for more than 30 years, creating an Advisory Board which has provided and maintained an unparalleled openness, transparency and engagement, reducing the debts from £4.5million to £1.5million alongside significant investments in the stadium and training ground.
Where we will be in July 2023 is anyone’s guess, but one thing we can say is with Morfuni continuing his work, we’ll more than likely be writing a similar website article reflecting on another productive year with the club in an even stronger financial position with an infrastructure reflective of our rich history and faithful fanbase.
“I really hope all our supporters are proud of this great club and how far we have come,” he said.
“With things improving off the pitch, we are working incredibly hard to enhance things on it, and we’re backing Scott who is building a squad worthy and capable of promotion, so that has to be our focus too as we seek to make this club even better from the ground up.
“The club debts are being managed well and hopefully we’ll be out of the red in the not-to-distant future. Hopefully in another year things will look different again.”
On behalf of the football club and our fans, thank you Clem.