I once attended a wedding where the best man started his speech by referencing the groom’s previous engagements (which his new wife’s family were mostly unaware of) and followed it up by raising a toast to the cleavage of a lady sitting at one of the nearby tables.

As amusing as I found it, never again did I think I would witness someone lose a room so quickly. But then I watched the Falkirk board’s Q&A session with supporters. Step forward, Falkirk chairman Gary Deans.

Now, if I was the chairman of a full-time League One club with 3500-plus punters regularly turning up, but sitting fifth in said division despite having the biggest budget in the league, my default position when facing those fans may be one of humility.

Not Mr Deans. Having asked attendees to be respectful and polite at the beginning of the meeting, he failed to show those fans the same consideration.

His patronising response to a brilliantly researched opening question was jaw-dropping, and I encourage you to go on to the Falkirk TV YouTube page to view it if you haven’t already done so.

The fan came prepared, alright. He cited previous win rates of clubs who have – unlike Falkirk - managed to win League One. He compared it to their current win rate, and overall win rate since Deans was appointed chairman in December 2019, which has them on course to fall well short of what must be their minimum ambition.

He pointed out that in the 58 games since, they have had four different managers. His critique of the recruitment process led by Sporting Director Gary Holt was fair and balanced, with 29 (mostly sub-standard) players brought in during Deans’ short reign.

He ended by posing the question of when will it get to the stage where someone – i.e. Deans – holds their hands up to their failings and steps down if they cannot reverse the decline.

Rapturous applause then gave way to the faint rustle of tumbleweeds as Deans delivered his response. “That was a statement, not a question.”

It was at this point I realised I may need a surgical procedure to uncurl my toes. Had I been a Falkirk supporter watching on from home, I would have been out a couple of hundred quid for a new laptop as well. At least the best man had the excuse of being about eight pints deep.

Adopting a defensive, condescending tone towards supporters never ends well, far less criticising them. And in fairness to Deans, it was fellow board member Gordon Colborn who took it upon himself to take that bold step and point the finger at the paying punters.

Colborn referenced an atmosphere of negativity from the stands inhibiting players, saying that the Falkirk lads were scared to try things on the pitch lest they be booed. Whatever seed of a decent point he had about abuse of players, staff or board members crossing the line was lost the minute he made the pitch that a supporter’s role was to support the team.

The clue is in the name, of course, but the role of the fan is not simply to roll up, empty your pockets and back the club blindly.

The argument also fails to explain how Falkirk came to implode last season from a position of strength to somehow finishing fifth when there were no supporters in the stadium at all.

What made Colborn’s statement all the more staggering is that he is a lifelong fan himself. Was it beyond even him to read the room or feel the pulse of the fanbase?

If only there was some sort of PR guru on the board to avoid such a car crash scenario. Oh, hold on.

Board member Colin McFarlane has his day job described on the Falkirk website thusly: “He spends his days advising clients ranging from national retailers, member associations and charities how to engage with the media, government and their stakeholders.” They probably should have run some of this stuff by him.

Still, it went on. According to Deans, another major reason that Falkirk were struggling was because the teams they were facing were full of players deemed not good enough for Falkirk who had been released by the club. Therefore, goes his argument, they were raising their game against them, and thus proving too strong for, erm, Falkirk.

He admits, shockingly, that he ‘hasn’t done the scientific analysis’ on that one. Perhaps he can explain why Airdrie – with nary a former Falkirk player among their number – spanked them by three goals to nil at the weekend.

This was all in the opening 20 minutes or so. There were other alarming moments later on, such as unseemly criticism of named former players by board members and manager Paul Sheerin – decent chap as he seems to be – admitting that he didn’t really know how he could turn things around.

Let’s be fair. Deans and co didn’t have to front up like this. Their points on improving the infrastructure of the club and needing some more time for it to bear fruit are reasonable enough.

Later on, there was decent input from investor and shareholder Phil Rawlins on the club’s long-term future, and it is here that Falkirk fans may be able to see a sliver of light.

If anything, the one good thing that may come from the disdain shown to the supporters by some members of their board here is that it may unite the fans in a common cause, and that cause should be to move towards greater fan influence or even fan ownership. It is a model that is working well at clubs with similar fanbases, like Motherwell and St Mirren.

Falkirk fans have however found the quest for representation on the board a difficult one to navigate. A six-week negotiation between the club and fan group Navy Blue took place earlier this year with a view to two supporters being appointed to the board in return for a six-figure investment, but those talks collapsed with the existing board citing ‘a set of pre-conditions that the board simply can't deliver on’.

Navy Blue, for their part, blamed ‘the reluctance of the board to put the club before personal ambition and status; countenance, or compromise on any vision different from their own; recognise the jeopardy such an approach places the club under going forward.’

This Falkirk board has to realise, and quickly, that you can't win a war against the fans. Stop pointing the finger at them and start placing them at the heart of everything you do.

It is the only way for a community club – as they have proclaimed themselves to be – to thrive.