Early December 2033 saw my 800th match in charge of Hapoel Ashkelon FC. Unfortunately, we produced one of the worst performances during my time here, losing 0-4 at home to Ramat Sharon. And, as Shankly would have said, we were lucky to get that.
Still, I suppose it was only one game out of 800.
What’s given me more food for thought was a comment I saw on social media – a comment from a Mr Ofer Vaknin, whoever he may be. He wrote, ‘Haynes has done well but I reckon he has peaked and we need a fresh face to take the next step’. Perhaps it’s the wife writing under a pseudonym.
Normally I’d feel angry when reading that sort of comment, but today I didn’t. Instead, I felt contemplative. Maybe he was right?
The day after the match, I lit one of my favourite Nicaraguan cigars and settled down in an armchair to assess the situation. While Karen’s away visiting the grandchildren I can get away with the odd smoke in the apartment.
In my A4 notebook, I wrote a big + sign at the top of the page and listed all the good things about my time at the Ashkelon. The list I came up with:
- I’ve kept them in the Israeli Premier League, which I don’t think anybody else had ever done.
- We’ve played in Europe.
- We’ve won the Israeli Super Cup, the State Cup, and (four times) the Israeli Premier League Toto Cup.
- The finances are in decent shape; we’ve turned a profit in most of the seasons I’ve been here; we have great facilities — and the best backroom team in the league.
- We’re currently 3rd in the league.
- We’ve got a fantastic bunch of young players at the club.
This afternoon I’ll do the negatives. But right now I’m going out for some hummus and taboon bread.