David Cameron Walker

Archive for the ‘Yeovil Town’ Category

Just our latest attempt to beat the odds

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

Yeovil

If us Glovers fans had been told at the beginning of last season that the campaign on which we were about to embark was to end our side’s nine-year stay in League One, you could have counted on one hand the number of people who would have had us climbing the pyramid of English football rather than dropping down it.

There were plenty of reasons to believe that last season would be an improvement on the relegation battles that had embodied Yeovil’s fortunes in recent years. Club legend [Sir] Gary Johnson was back in charge for his first full season since returning to the Huish Park dugout, and a strong pre-season that saw the Glovers go unbeaten had raised hopes that a place in the sanctuary of mid-table was more than a slight possibility.

What was to unfold over the next nine months, however, surpassed the hopes and dreams of even the most optimistic of supporters. As a club that became famous in its non-league days for upsetting the applecart on FA Cup afternoons, producing shocks is by no means unprecedented down in South Somerset, but the run which culminated in that astonishing win over Brentford on Wembley’s hallowed turf was – to go against my journalistic principles and churn out an old cliché – the stuff dreams are made of.

Click fast-forward, and just 11 weekends down the line from the most famous win in Yeovil’s 118-year history, it’s now time for us Glovers to begin our latest quest to battle against the odds.

Now none of us are under any illusions as to how tough life in the Championship is going to be. With the smallest population of any club in the division, the smallest ground in the division, and – you guessed it – the smallest budget in the division, to say we’ve been thrown into the lion’s den – as we quite literally will be tomorrow when we travel to Millwall for our first ever match in English football’s second tier – is an enormous understatement.

Fans of other clubs have seen fit to consign us to relegation before a ball has been kicked, and if the bookies are anything to go by, it would appear that our return ticket to League One arrived in the post the day after our Wembley triumph.

However, with no expectation comes no pressure. The majority of people are expecting us to act as this season’s proverbial whipping boys, so there really is nothing to lose by turning up on a Saturday afternoon and attacking the opposition. If we end up losing most of our games by three or four goals and going down with 15 points, we’ve only done what people expect us to do.

In other words, there is virtually no way we can flatter to deceive, which gives us the freedom to go into every game ready to fight and have a real go. There’s a reason why Johnson and Yeovil Town are perfect for each other, and that is because both he and the club share the same philosophy, which is to attack regardless of the opposition. It’s served us well throughout our history, from our early giantkilling days all the way through to our recent meteoric rise through the Football League.

There will be bad days. It’s inevitable given our resources compared to the rest of the division that things won’t always go our way. But by showing the fight and hunger that saw us do so well last season there will be plenty of occasions on which we will surprise, and if the likes of Madden, Stech, Upson, Hayter and co. can show the form that earned us promotion, we have more than a fighting chance of staying up and showing why we deserve a place in the Championship.

The faith that Johnson has in those who won his side promotion can be summed up by the Glovers’ likely starting line-up tomorrow. Nine of the 11 who began the play-off final win over Brentford look set to take the field against Millwall, with only the injured Jamie McAllister and the departed Dan Burn set to be missing from the Yeovil first XI.

The loss of Burn was without question the disappointment of the summer for all Yeovil fans. The centre-back was instrumental in the Glovers’ promotion after joining on loan from Fulham last September, and having scored the second – and ultimately decisive – goal at Wembley, had expressed his wish to return to Huish Park for a second spell this season.

But sadly, money talks in this game, and Birmingham’s higher offer for Burn’s services saw him packed off to St. Andrews by his parent club. All Yeovil fans wish him all the best, but we’d be lying if we said it won’t hurt seeing him line up against us when the Blues make the visit to Huish Park next weekend.

Johnson has moved swiftly to bolster the backline with proven Championship experience. The signings of Alan Tate on loan from Swansea and former Southampton centre-half Danny Seaborne both represent excellent pieces of business, with both men set to make big contributions throughout the coming campaign.

Elsewhere, our transfer policy of taking on young players with plenty to prove – something Johnson jokingly referred to as ‘Gary’s Gambles’ – looks like it could well pay off yet again. Both Sam Hoskins, the diminutive forward signed on a free from Southampton, and midfielder Billy Clifford, a loan arrival from Chelsea, have impressed in pre-season and already look like claiming starting places in the near future, whilst the additions of Liam Davis, Michael Ngoo, Joe Jones and Kieffer Moore have added much needed depth to our ranks.

Take those new arrivals and combine it with what we already have and you have a well-balanced and diverse squad. McAllister and Hayter provide a wealth of Championship experience, whereas Stech and Madden have the raw talent to get to the very top. Add to that the likes of Upson and Joe Edwards, who will be itching to prove they have what it takes to play at this level after being rejected by Championship clubs in the past, the energy that Sam Foley and Kevin Dawson bring to the table, as well as the solidity of Byron Webster and Luke Ayling, and you have a side that really does have a bit of everything.

It’s reasonable to expect that how we begin the season will be crucial in determining how the rest of it pans out. Start well, as we did last year, and get a couple of wins under our belt early on, and the confidence that comes with it will provide the impetus for the players to push on and cause further shocks, but start slowly and the ecstasy at finding ourselves in the second tier will quickly wear off and a long, hard battle against the drop will kick in.

For Yeovil, this season is made up of 46 FA Cup third round ties, something history has shown us to be fairly good at negotiating, and I for one believe that we have the right team to compete with the big guns, the only manager we could never need in Gary Johnson, and the fantastic support needed to get behind the team and act as its 12th man.

And in the face of so many doubters, I expect this campaign to add just the latest chapter to a history based so much on overcoming the odds.

Just one thing’s for certain. Us fans are going to have a blast along the way.

Written by Stephen D’Albiac, We Are Going Up’s Yeovil Town Blogger

Stephen tweets at @sdalbiacf1

Gary’s Glovers in Pursuit of Play-offs

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Hands up League One fans, who had Yeovil Town pinned for relegation again?

We’re getting quite used to proving people wrong at this point. Need I point out again that Yeovil have never been relegated as a Football League club?

In a previous post I proposed that if Yeovil could avoid a Christmas-time struggle, trying to kick ourselves away from the relegation zone, we would give ourselves the chance to emulate the strong finishes of the last few seasons and start to mention the P word. 
Look where ‘plucky little Yeovil’ are in the table, nestled in amongst the likes of Sheffield United, Coventry, Notts County, Bournemouth and MK Dons – so close to a play-off position we can taste it.

I hoped for a strong Christmas and a strong Christmas we got, with a disappointing Boxing Day Bournemouth result barely marring the good feeling generated by wins against Portsmouth, Oldham twice and Leyton Orient.

After the disappointment of whimpering out of the Johnstone Paint Trophy at the hands of Orient, who we had defeated 3-0 a week previous, two massive victories against Sheffield United and MK Dons has set the Glovers up for a colossal February of seven league fixtures.

 That feeling is back again. You don’t get it too often as a Yeovil fan, but it’s there. We know what it takes to get to the play-offs having made it to the final in 2007.
Gradually over the course of the season, Gary Johnson has put a squad together who seem to be buying into what Yeovil is like as a club, what is has achieved so far and what is expected off them.

Players have been tested and haven’t worked along the way. 
Reuben Reid has joined Plymouth Argyle on loan for a month having fallen right out of the picture in terms of selection. He is not a ‘Gary Johnson’ style player, in terms of running, endeavour and application. Reid as bags of talent and an intelligent understanding of the game, though it scarcely found it’s way to the surface of his performances.

Another ex-Oldham Athletic player, Keanu Marsh-Brown, also fell by the wayside and has had his contract terminated. The guy also has plenty of talent, he’s quick and can beat a man, however too little was he effective in games and his attitude and lack of commitment frustrated fans and clearly the management.

With Yeovil fans rarely caught up in the whirlwind of Transfer Deadline Day, it’s nice to know that the club have arguably done some of the best business in the league. 
After an impressive loan spell from Carlisle, striker Paddy Madden has penned a permanent deal and to say it is paying dividends would be an understatement. 
Six goals in his last three games has seen the leagues third top scorer rise to 14 goals for the season and seems to be in such form that ever opportunity comes close. 
If I were a Carlisle United fan I would be mightily miffed that we let such an asset go for such little money to a League One rival, but hey, I’m not complaining.

Madden’s childhood friend from Ireland, Kevin Dawson, has also joined the club and has immediately shown the commitment, battle and desire that supporters just love. 
After two loan spells at the club, Johnson has come up trumps once more by signing Joe Edwards from Bristol City on a permanent transfer, another who buys into exactly what is required at Huish Park and his versatility will certainly prove essential in the run-in to the end of the season.

In most post-match interviews and twitter reflections, players, management and supporters alike are talking about the play-offs. Not that that’s what we expect but because that is what everyone is pulling towards.

What Yeovil need now is for fans to start filing back through the gates, we need bums on seats (cold toes on the terrace) to support the team vocally and support the club financially. If some of the 30,000 or so who made it to Wembley can add to the 3,152 who braved the weather at home to MK Dons then club won’t need to worry about needing to sell the likes of Paddy Madden, Marek Stech and Ed Upson.

After beating Sheffield United away and MK Dons at home, Saturday proves a massive fixture – at home to Brentford. Three points would assert us as real play-off contenders.

The thing is, it could have been so much better. After a bright start saw us hit the top of the table, an record run of six league defeats on the trot left one or two scratching their head as to whether it might be another Christmas of worry.
 Hindsight is a grand thing, but we could be right in the mix at the top of the table had that run not occurred. Frustratingly, often only by the odd goal – 3-2 versus Preston and 2-1 at home to Portsmouth adding to 1-0 defeats against Bournemouth, MK Dons and Sheffield United, the very sides we find ourselves battling toe-to-toe with for a spot in the top six.

However, that was then, and as I skim through the upcoming fixtures, each game seems as big and important as the last. In the next month we have teams chasing promotion in Brentford and Doncaster as well as teams trying to kick themselves away form the doldrums of the relegation zone in Scunthorpe, Oldham and Colchester.

This is not the time though to go too over the top with a win, too down-heartened with a defeat – come to the game and enjoy it. It looks as though we could have a season without once mentioning the word relegation, if we can’t enjoy that, we won’t enjoy anything.

Written by Ryan Peasland, We Are Going Up’s Yeovil Town Blogger

Ryan tweets at @rpeasland

Gary’s Glovers Out to Prove a Point

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Well as positive as I was about our chances pre-season, I didn’t expected us to hit the top of the league this early in the campaign.

After an unbeaten pre-season, Yeovil Town’s positive results have continued into the new campaign, enjoying league wins over Brentford, Scunthorpe and Doncaster, cup wins over Colchester and Bristol Rovers, a draw against League One big boys Coventry as well as a strongly-contested cup loss to West Brom and the first league loss of the season against Bournemouth.

In a month where Gary Johnson was nominated for League One Manager of the Month, it has been clear to see that, in the majority of fixtures, the Glovers legend is starting to get various green and white elements to tick.

On the first day of September, the Glovers’ 2-1 home win over Doncaster Rovers saw the ten-point barrier reached in record time. It took Yeovil until the 22nd October after our 14th game to reach the same milestone last season, which puts us in credit.

Just five games have gone, yet seeing Yeovil sitting in fourth place in the table does spark glimmers of hope, even among the most dour-faced terrace-dwellers and some are even flinging ‘P’ words (and not just pies and pasties) into conversations over a pint of Scrumpy.

In my previous post I highlighted a couple of points which I felt could be key to what I hoped would be a worry-less Christmas which could springboard the team to a strong finish.

Firstly, I felt that the lack of depth to the squad could start to show cracks as the strongest eleven play regular Saturday-Tuesday fixture patterns and so it proved against Bournemouth. Johnson has stuck with the same eleven, where possible, and has decided to make them take responsibility, whether it be in the league, league cup or Johnstone Paint Trophy.

With hindsight, the gaffer may feel that a midweek JPT fixture against League Two Bristol Rovers could have proven an opportunity to allow those chomping at the bit to be let loose against the local rivals. As it turned out, the eleven who put a near-heroic performance in against West Brom a week previous ran out 3-0 winners in a drab, below-par performance in which Centre-half Byron Webster injured his ribs and Jamie McCallister was shown a straight red for throwing his left fist towards pal David Clarkson (who game hime a lift to and from the game).

Four days later, Yeovil came up against a very well organised Bournemouth team who not only played mid-week, but went to extra-time and penalties. The performance was lackluster and Johnson suggested that his players had hit a brick wall mentally and physically.

Surprisingly so, as the squad, modest though it may be, is full of youthful exuberance and energy. Reading loanee Gozie Ugwu has put pressure on regular starters James Hayter and Reuben Reid with his three impressive goals off the bench. Ugwu is part of what Johnson refers to as ‘the cavalry’, adding Lewis Young and Nathan Ralph as well as the striker to kill off the likes of Brentford and Scunthorpe.

The leggy performance against a good Bournemouth side was a blip, we are going to have blips. The squad will get tested- particularly when your captain throws punches and picks up three-match bans- but things at Huish Park are positive.

The 1-0 home defeat to the Cherries resulted in a small number (but audible number) of supporters deciding that what they just witnessed warranted booing. BOOING! Some people have either very short memories or are just not particularly bright. At the end of that fixture we were third in the table, yes it was poor, yes it was a home defeat but the habit of football fans in general to boo a loss no matter the context needs to stop.

The second thing I highlighted, was that we needed to successfully navigate what could prove to be a tricky set of first ten opening fixtures. We are half way through those fixtures and have taken positive results from matches against Coventry, Brentford, Scunthorpe and Doncaster. After the defeat against Bournemouth, I believe this is where the team will be tested and will need the supporters to stick with them and give them a chance, based on what they have shown so far this season. Coming up are trips to MK Dons, Letyon Orient, Preston North End and high-flying Tranmere with home ties against Sheffield United and Portsmouth.

This is where Yeovil will need to continue to display all the positive attributes that they have shown in the opening to the season. Marek Stech in goal is proving to be just the signing Yeovil fans expected him to be, whereas the partnership between Richard Hinds and Byron Webster at the heart of defence is a blossoming brick wall of a duo.

Goals have come from all over the shop in all competitions this season. Reid, Hayter, Ugwu, Marsh-Brown, Foley, Upson and Hinds have all netted this season, backing up Johnson’s prediction that this Yeovil team has plenty of goals in it. Spear-headed by the fluid front four of Sam Foley, Reuben Reid, James Hayter and Keanu Marsh-Brown, a lack of pace, creativity and strength is not an issue for the Glovers.

Yeovil are entering a key period of the season as they measure themselves up against a number of the league’s promotion-hopefuls but even if the GJ-brand of football is missing at times, who cares? So long as we win.

With a little bit of luck and with the backing of the Green & White Army let’s see if after the next five games we will still be talked about alongside ‘P’ words. As I have pointed out on ‘We Are Going Up’ before; Yeovil are no relegation-fodder and we are out to prove a point. First stop, Milton Keynes. Bring it on.

Written by Ryan Peasland, We Are Going Up’s Yeovil Town Blogger

Ryan tweets at @rpeasland

Magic Johnson ready to work wonders

Monday, August 20th, 2012

After a few weeks off and a European Championships and the Olympics to completely wipe our memories of any woes of the previous term, the pre-season optimism is back.

Another year and another host of book-makers are tipping Yeovil for the drop. However, we are out to prove them wrong once again as we head into our eighth consecutive season in League One and celebrating just our tenth season in the Football League.

I don’t know why it is we are so readily tipped to feature as relegation-fodder each year. Yeovil have not been relegated since 1995 when we dropped into the ICIS Premier League. We are not a yo-yo team, we are not punching above our weight and this year I believe we will set out to prove just that.

At the turn of the year the club re-appointed manager Gary Johnson, the man who led the Glovers to the Football League in his first tenure, with Terry Skiverton willingly stepping into the assistant manager’s position in a kind of ‘master and apprentice’ set-up alongside the man who he served as captain in Yeovil’s purple patch.

Since the new manager returned, Yeovil sat around second and third in the form table in the run-in to the end of the season with a number of players he stated would not be around this season, so I am looking forward to watching the side that the management team have put together.

As was the short-term contract ethos at Yeovil in recent seasons, there have been a large turnover of players, and this summer was no different. Important departures came in the shape of top-scorer of Andy Williams and team captain Paul Huntington, who both turned down new contracts.

Pleasingly, Johnson managed to convince an ever improving selection of players to re-sign in Luke Ayling, Ed Upson and Dominic Blizzard plus the experience of Gavin Williams and Richard Hinds who turned out for the club towards the end of last season.

This mixture of youth and raw talent coupled with experience and players who have ‘been there, done that’ has been central in Johnson sculpting of his squad for the 2012/13 season.

Adding to the experience of Williams and Hinds, Yeovil have recruited Jamie McAllister from Bristol City, who experienced promotion with the Robins and striker James Hayter, who helped nodded Doncaster Rovers towards the Championship with his goal in the play-off final in 2008.

Yeovil is often a club for players who are looking for their first crack at league football and are given a lot of responsibility and experience (Stephen Caulker being a prime example) as well as being a club who can give players second or even third chances. Both remits have been fulfilled this season with the additions of Reuben Reid, who is looking to rid his ‘journeyman tag’ and Keanu Marsh-Brown.

More youth and relative inexperience has been given a chance in the shape of new recruits Sam Foley from Newport County, Nathan Ralph and Lewis Young, younger brother of Manchester United’s Ashley.

The strongest desire from many fans was for Gary Johnson to sign Yeovil’s first permanent goalkeeper since about 2009. We have been treated to some cracking loan goalkeepers over the last couple of seasons including Alex McCarthy, Stephen Henderson and John Sullivan but with five ‘keepers turning out for Yeovil last season, it was time for some stability and assurance that we will have a quality ‘keeper behind the defence for the majority of the season.

With Chelsea goalkeeper Sam Walker and ex-Glover Chris Weale cited by the manager as potential candidates, the calls were answered when one of last season’s five, Marek Stech, was released by West Ham United and Gary Johnson, Terry Skiverton and a whole host of fans on Twitter set about persuading Stech to return to the Westcountry which he did on a two year contract.

The reality is that we won’t keep him for the full contract but should get a successful season out of him before another club comes in, it is hoped, with a mouth-watering sum to take the promising number one elsewhere on his track to the Premier League. However, a full season of a permanent goalkeeper who is starting to prove his class is perfectly fine by me.

With Gary Johnson at the helm, I believe we can go for a season without a Christmas time relegation-panic and if the team he is moulding can play the type of football they have displayed in pre-season then Yeovil fans could be in for an entertaining year with multiple goals coming from all of the forwards and three clean sheets.

Although it could be argued that we may not see a full season of Johnson at the helm. So long as results go Yeovil’s way, both board and manager will be relatively happy but frustrations could bubble to the fore. Johnson’s gripes with the way a number of issues have been clumsily handled could stretch patience, with an unplayable training pitch and a below standard surface at Huish Park which led to Yeovil having to play a ‘home’ pre-season fixture with Plymouth Argyle in Dorchester. Add to that the lack of sponsor for the squad’s kit which made the national news, but only when Gary Johnson himself came up with the idea to pose half-naked for the team’s photoshoot.

However, these are all ifs and buts, I hope to see Johnson take this squad and achieve a positive step with the club. Utilising, rather than relying on, the loan market will help add to the modestly sized squad throughout the long season. The management team have already recruited effectively using that method with the additions of Gozie Ugwu from Reading and Rohan Ince from Chelsea.

The key to a trouble-free season, I predict, will be successfully navigating our way through what may prove to be a tricky set of opening fixtures with clashes with Coventry, Bournemouth, MK Dons, Sheffield United, Preston North End and Porstmouth within the first ten matches.

Coventry failed to take three points on the first day of the season and the Glovers have set themselves up with a tie against West Brom in the second round of the League Cup as well as being drawn against local rivals Bristol Rovers in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and the new season is off to an exciting start.

Where Yeovil could fall down this season is with the lack of strength in depth. Pre-season injuries have already been suffered by Rohan Ince, Gavin Williams and Dominic Blizzard and anything like the injury list seen last season would leave us with the bare bones. Town have a little breathing space in this regard this season with three more available loans to be utilised to cover for any injuries or suspensions.

No doubt the majority of fans in League One are optimistic of a successful season but could this be the season where Yeovil send the message out that they are key members of the division and emulate their cup runs of the past where Yeovil made their name? One thing is for sure, we’re all ready for the rocky ride that is the Football League season.

Written by Ryan Peasland, We Are Going Up’s Yeovil Town Blogger

Ryan tweets at @rpeasland

The Return of The King

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

After being rock bottom of the league table at Christmas last season, many Yeovil Town fans feared relegation, and it took an amazing run of form in January and onwards to keep the Glovers in League One in a much more healthy position of 14th. ‘Time to push on’ we thought, ‘next stop, play-offs’, ‘all hail Terry Skiverton.’

After having finished level on points with Charlton Athletic and above Sheffield Wednesday, it would have been the most extreme of optimists to expect Yeovil to match those two sides again this time around. What we didn’t expect was more or less a repeat prescription of a lackluster first half to the season.

We have left ourselves a hole to dig out of again, but this time Chairman John Fry is not willing to rely on a miraculous set of results that saw us good last season. After all, just five of the squad remain from that which went to Plymouth at the start of last January, and the shortcomings due to the loss of Dean Bowditch, Andy Welsh and Nathan Smith have been evident, as has the lack of a regular goalkeeper – five is the count so far this season.

Something, it was felt, needed to be done. So, to the return of Gary Johnson. Idolised from his first stint as manager, Johnson holds hero status having taken the club from the Conference to League One, picking up the FA Trophy on the way as a result of flowing, passing, football.

Great! A buzz has returned to the club. Over a 1,000 more people came through the gates for Johnson’s homecoming as he is set the task of securing League One football for the eighth consecutive season.

But what of the man who’s job he took? The man who kept Yeovil in the league on a less than shoestring budget, had to rely on loans and the total overhaul of his squad every season. The guy who captained the side through all our success under Gary Johnson, and holds cult hero status in Somerset. The fella who attracted the likes of Dean Bowditch, Paul Huntington and Stephen Caulker to the club, has he just been binned?

No, and thank the Lord that he hasn’t.

The fact that we have relied on loans the last few years as well as the club allowing contracts to run out has meant that we have seen a ridiculous amount of different faces pull on the green and white stripes of Yeovil Town. This has meant, for me and many fans, it has been very hard to get behind the team. You don’t know who is going to play, you don’t know who some of the people are, you can see that, in some cases, they are not willing to fight for the club .

I remember when I used to watch Yeovil play, I knew who was going to start. Chris Weale would be in goal, Lee Johnson and Darren Way would be in the centre of the park, Michael McIndoe and Kevin Gall would provide pace and width and at the back, week in, week out would stand Terry Skiverton, skipper.

Skiverton has been appointed assistant manager to Gary Johnson, and his decision to stay just underlines his commitment and love for the club. Yeovil Town need people like Skivo at the club, someone to relate to, someone to get behind and someone to fight of the club. A big part of Yeovil staying up last season was the overriding passion that he showed to the players, supporters and the board.

To my mind, he still has a huge part to play in where the club will be in the future. Gary Johnson will provide a more professional, experienced head to set the specific wheels in motion to get Yeovil going again.

However, what if Johnson keeps us up, betters Skiverton’s previous best finish of 14th, takes us to the play-offs next season, as Russell Slade did? I have very few doubts in my mind that if a bigger club comes sniffing, as Bristol City did the first time round, Johnson could be easily lured away with the offer of potential Premier League football, taking our prized assets with him.

Johnson has recently talked of his desire of managing in the Premier League, “be it with Yeovil Town or another team”. The latter, I presume, is the most likely.

Where do Yeovil turn to then? I have a prediction, Terry Skiverton.

Skivo is not yet done taking this club forward, he is a young manager who was thrust into very difficult circumstances and I believe the next two or three seasons working with Gary will help him no end in learning what things need to be done, and how, in order to manage a successful team.

A lot of this is hypothetical, of course, but I believe that the move by the board to team Gary and Terry together, as apposed to one or the other, is the right decision and one which will see us move on positively as a club.

And if the time comes when Yeovil need Skivo again, I have no fears he will answer that call.

But for now it is time for our new/old manager to put points on the board, bring people through the turnstile and take Yeovil Town up the league.

And I, for one, cannot wait.

Viva La Gary Johnson revolution part II.

Written by Ryan Peasland, We Are Going Up’s Yeovil Town Blogger

Ryan tweets at @rpeasland

Town down but not out

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Rotten luck, rubbish refs, plenty of suspensions, loans galore and it’s the same old story for Yeovil Town. Fifteen games in and the Glovers find themselves languishing in the ghastly doom and gloom at the bottom of League One.

Yeovil have seen home game after home game break their own lowest league attendance records as the club pay the price for a bad run of form and what is an awkwardly Northern league. Manager Terry Skiverton has also had to contend with a treatment table which has seen more bums than a Miss Somerset competition and has even had to bring loans in to cover his loans!

As well as propping up the rest of League One, Yeovil also sit bottom of the Fair Play league or, if you like, top of the bad boys league. Right back Luke Ayling is the least disciplined player in the league with six yellows and one red to his name, as well as an FA charge hanging over his head for being less than complimentary to the referee who gave him his marching orders.

However one would think there is a big black cloud hanging over Huish Park and that I’m going to be negative about the club’s chances of survival, well you’re wrong.

Peering through green-and-white-tinted glasses as a fan, there are small signs that Skiverton can do what he did last year and perform a turnaround in the second-half of the season. Long-term injury lay-offs Gavin Williams and Jonathan Obika are making progress towards comebacks in November and December whilst Paul Huntington, Steve Maclean and Alan O’Brien will soon join the rest of the returning players searching for fitness.

As good as some of the football has been against the bigger sides in the division, the Glovers have fallen short to the ilk of MK Dons, Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield United and Preston North End. There was a sense of ‘we huffed and puffed, did alright, but they have got a bigger team, bigger squad, better players, more money, better manager, bigger stadium, larger city blah, blah, blah. Just wait until we play the likes of Scunthorpe United, Bury and Carlisle United.’

That is when things started to get grizzly. Both Carlisle and Bury came to Huish Park, scored three goals and took all three points which lost the side a lot of support and confidence. A very small fraction of the green and white army have decided that the regime is to blame and that Skiverton should leave in order to keep his club legend status in tact.

Skiverton makes mistakes and he can sometimes be tactically naiive, but no-one else would do this job with as much passion and full-bodied endeavour to keep the club alive, thriving and in League One. It could be said that Skivo’s job is possibly the safest in English football. While managerial heads roll around the country from teams in Yeovil’s position and higher, the club’s chairman comes out with a rallying cry to get behind the manager. In a statement, chairman John Fry said: “Last season Terry and his team finished in the second highest position in the history of the club. United we stand, divided we fall, so let us all pull together in the same direction and back Terry and his team.”

Where else would you see this type of support from a team in the relegation zone?

Injuries and suspensions have made for an unstable back four leading to high number of goals conceded. Even loanee goalkeeper Jed Steer was injured and had to return to parent club Norwich City. However, a more steely resistance has been instilled in the last few games, with the loan of West Ham ‘keeper Marek Stech and the addition of a much needed, big, no-nonsence, strong, experienced centre half in the form of Darren Purse.

Some may have been surprised to see the ex-Premier League defender down in Somerset but having grown up with the gaffer in London, Purse is a real solid addition to the squad and one which supporters would love to have for longer than a month.

It’s hard to imagine Skiverton will be sacked, not because the board are happy with mediocrity but because I believe he will turn things around. The returning players will be like new signings in January though the club’s restricted budget will mean a reliance on loans once more.

Last season the club were bottom and as good as dead at Christmas, but a new year turnaround saw them achieve a 14th place finish. If they are not bottom at Christmas this year, we can only assume it will be a mid-table finish for Town, right?

Relegation is not an option for the Glovers if they want to re-develop parts of the ground, but it is going to be another hard season. The team needs fans and the fans need the club. This writer remains confident we will be seeing League One football at Huish Park next season. I am not happy with mediocrity and certainly don’t enjoy a relegation battle every year, but a struggling club needs more support than a high-flying one and I will take positivity into every game played. At least we have a club to support, fans of Plymouth Argyle have sweated over the existence of theirs for months.

All Yeovil have to do is be more consistent, stay fit, score more goals, concede less, entertain the fans and start picking up three points from the likes of Huddersfield Town and Charlton Athletic. Easy.

Written by Ryan Peasland, We Are Going Up’s Yeovil Town Blogger

Ryan tweets at @rpeasland

 

Out of Luck Skivo’s Rallying Cry

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Seven league games in and just the one win chalked up for Yeovil Town and the Green Army, but excuse us, if you will, for continuing in our optimism.

Amongst the opponents so far have been MK Dons, Sheffield United and Preston North End and from what I saw I would suggest that all three will be fighting toe-to-toe for a place in the Play-offs come the end of the season.

Town were not disgraced in any of those performances, just the single goal deciding each tie with Yeovil’s spirit and guts not quite converting into points on the board. No more spirit was shown than in the seven-goal thriller away to Preston. North End, by all accounts, could have, should have, been about 7-1 up but for some desperate defending and a good few extra licks of paint on the woodwork.

It was a fair old trip from Yeovil to Preston, add to that some Friday night traffic on the M6 and I managed to stroll up to my seat just as the teams emerged from the tunnel. Yeovil showed that night what they will need to show throughout the season; a steely resolve and a willingness to fight for the badge. Were it not for a fine one-on-one save by Preston’s Turner, then Kieran Agard could have robbed North End of two points and taken one back to Somerset.

The reason for my continued optimism is not just blind faith. I do believe in what Terry Skiverton is trying to do at the club and I believe that he has been handed some rotten luck. Injuries; every club has injuries, but in a small squad on a shoestring budget knocks and niggles have a big effect. Skiverton believes he has entered his worst period of injuries since he took over at the club and he’s not wrong.

Nathan Jones realised he was playing with a broken shoulder, only for his deputy Curtis Haynes-Brown to perform well but get sent off. New signing Bondz N’Gala has played just two league games before being ruled out along with Obika who could need surgery. Gavin Williams who’s damaged his knee ligaments and Andy Williams join new recruits Dominic Blizzard and Kerrea Gilbert on the treatment table.

That bad luck continued during the transfer window as Skiverton endured a frustrating time. Two main players were courted as Skivo tried to make deals which fell through come deadline time. Chelsea starlet Conor Clifford was offered a loan deal to Somerset, which would have been just the type of player we need. He has captained the Chelsea youth side to F.A Youth Cup victory and represented Ireland at under-21 level. Clifford was loaned to the West Country last year as he fought for the cause at Plymouth Argyle; combative, confident and a goal-scorer from midfield, Skivo missed out on a real gem.

The second target was a permanent deal for Norwich City’s Oli Johnson who is no stranger to the Green Army having made 17 appearances on loan last year. Skiverton revealed that he was prepared to part with some significant money to purchase the Premier League side’s starlet, but it wasn’t enough to reach Norwich’s valuation.

As well as waiting for Skivo’s luck to turn I have also been buoyed by some early-season positives. Before the season I highlighted the emergence of young Ed Upson as an exciting prospect and perhaps key to Yeovil’s performance. He has shown already that he can break up play as easily as creating it and he is becoming a combative force in the centre of the park. Anthony Edgar is another that will emerge and improve as the season goes on, his driving runs from midfield really eases the pressure on the Yeovil back line and he is not afraid to shoot at any opportunity, highlighted by is sumptuous volley against Preston.

Keeping hold of Paul Huntington through the transfer window was a real coup for the Yeovil manager having reportedly held of interest from a number of rival clubs. I hope that we do not end up in the situation at the end of the season, as we did last, where Huntington will be able to walk on a free, only time will show a) Yeovil’s team and business management and b) Paul’s dedication to the club.

Yeovil entertain Wycombe Wanderers before Sheffield Wednesday are the visitors to Huish Park and the gaffer has issued a rallying cry to the ‘floating supporters‘ of Yeovil Town, expressing that “I really want the supporters to come out, I know it’s a difficult time but I’m asking them to come, we’re going to try and put on a good performance for you.”

I personally will be going to the Wycombe game – but if the performance isn’t there, it’s not the end of the world, so long as we take all three points. I hope that there will be a time over the next fortnight where something will click, and we will start turning performances into results and Yeovil Town will sneak up the table before the early gap to the play-offs becomes much bigger.

Written by Ryan Peasland, We Are Going Up’s Yeovil Town Blogger

Ryan tweets at @rpeasland

We Will Never Forget Stanno

Friday, August 12th, 2011

This week has been a reflective one for fans of Exeter City, Hereford, Yeovil and Elmore as we remembered on Wednesday the passing of striker Adam Stansfield one year ago.

I wasn’t at the Ipswich League Cup game when most Exeter City fans found out that Stansfield had lost his fight with bowel cancer. I cannot imagine how the collective group of Exeter fans felt at that time but when I received a text informing me of the terrible news the feeling was one of shock.

Stansfield was just 31 and anyone who has seen him play will tell you that his physical fitness was second to none. He became a fans favourite for covering every blade of grass and running his heart out all match for the cause. The amount of running he did in a game was phenomenal.

About two weeks before his untimely death someone posted on Facebook that his condition was terminal and the response was a mixture of deep anger and utter disbelief. A lot of fans were understandably angry that someone would publicly post what was at the time a vicious rumour, none of us thought it would be proved right so soon.

On Wednesday fans of his former clubs got together on Twitter to pay tribute by attempting to trend the hashtag #WeWillNeverForgetStanno. Unfortunately it didn’t trend but the amount of messages posted about him that day really showed the shock at which his death caused around the football community with tweets from fans, his former colleagues and current and former top flight footballers. The tweet that got me the most was the one with a YouTube link to BBC footage of Stansfield’s funeral. I had taken the decision not to attend the funeral as I didn’t feel I had earned the right to be there and I felt I didn’t want to face the emotion of the day in what had been a fairly difficult year on a personal level. I watched the footage for the first time and it really brought me to my knees to see the outpouring of public emotion from the Exeter City and football community.

Thankfully Adam Stansfield’s legacy is still alive today in the form of the Adam Stansfield Foundation who raise money to give aspiring young footballers in the South West regardless of club allegiance the opportunities to play at a young age that benefitted Stansfield so much.

The club held a collection for a cancer charity at the understandably emotional game between Exeter and Yeovil where Stansfield had made his name. Fans once again displayed the huge Stansfield 9 shirt over the Big Bank and chanted about him as I believe Exeter fans will always do.

Stansfield always had time for the fans and was often to be found signing autographs or just chatting to the fans after games. I met him after the victory parade for Exeter’s promotion to League Two – he was humble and talkative and more than happy to have his photo taken with me, he even tried to jump up to reach my height.

Stansfield will never be forgotten by those who were lucky enough to see him play. The club retired the number 9 shirt for 10 years as a mark of respect. The next player to wear that shirt will have boots that are literally impossible to fill.

More details about the Adam Stansfield Foundation are available at adamstansfieldfoundation.com where you can show your support by buying wristbands or badges.

 

Written by Ian Bond, We Are Going Up’s Exeter blogger

Ian tweets at @bondyecfc

 

The Tweeting Terry Skiverton

Friday, August 5th, 2011

At this moment, all around the country, football fans are getting excited about the new season and how they expect to improve on last term. For Yeovil fans there seems to be more of a sense of relief that they even have enough players to travel to Brentford on August 6th. With Sam Williams, Martin Gritton, Craig Calver and ostracized defender Stefan Stam allowed to leave the club, contract offers went out to seven other glovers and after a few weeks of ‘umm-ing and ahhh-ing’, just youngster Billy Gibson put pen to paper.

Loan players all returned from whence they came leaving Terry Skiverton with just five contracted players plus right-hand man Nathan Jones. With the loss of top scorer Dean Bowditch and top assist-maker Andy Welsh, Skivo had some work cut out for him and the Huish Park rumour mill kicked into full flow.

Part of Skiverton’s plan is to reduce the amount of loan players each season and to recruit players on contract that can do the job for Yeovil Town. Improving on last year in that aspect shouldn’t be too hard with about 16 loanees through the doors in 2010-2011 (forgive me if I lost count). The task at hand has been to add to a squad of five players with little money after letting the clubs biggest assets leave for free at the end of their contracts. First through the door was a familiar face as Gavin Williams returned for his fourth spell at Huish Park. ‘Super Gav’ has been hampered in recent seasons by niggling injuries but a fit and energetic Williams can be one of the best players in League One and an absolute steal on a free contract, a sentiment echoed by the gaffer: “On his day … he is definitely one of the most talented players in this division.”

Skivo’s recruitment methods hit the national news over the summer after he revealed he was taking tips about who to buy from his Twitter followers. Yeovil fans, not to mention supporters from Premier League and Championsip teams became Town’s scouting system which led to the signing of former Arsenal academy and Everton striker Kieran Agard, a move that has been dubbed the first ever ‘Twansfer’ after the suggestion came from one of Skiverton’s Twitter scouts.

After Plymouth Argyle’s downfall and the expiration of some player contracts, Skivo wisely sniffed out a few players for trial to give the club a new lease of life and snatch a bargain at the same time. Big Bondz N’Gala became the next addition to the contracted players and fellow Pilgrims Steve MacLean, Jim Paterson and Rory Fallon all made the journey from Devon to try and earn a contract. MacLean put pen to paper to join new signings Anthony Edgar and Dominic Blizzard as Skiverton’s metaphoric boat started to fill up and get ready for the next voyage. Negotiations with Paterson fell through and Fallon is yet to be offered a deal.

A busy period for the management team continued as QPR youngster Max Ehmer became the first loan signing of the season after impressing in the second half of last term, joined by Curtis Hayes-Brown. Bucket-loads of players have been on trial over the summer in the green and white stripes including maverick journeyman Bas Savage and striker Diarra Tiemoko who scored three goals in two games but wasn’t offered a contract because he was unfit – surely he can get fit, he scored three goals! For Yeovil! One of which was past David James!!

Joining the trialists have been a number of goalkeepers with Yeovil having no stopper on the books other than the goalkeeper coach. Skiverton has done rather well over the last couple of seasons bringing in ‘keepers on loan with successful stays for Stephen Henderson, John Sullivan and Alex McCarthy. The tried and tested method was put to use again when the second loan of the season Jed Steer joined from Norwich. Steer is just 18 which could be seen as a gamble by many people and could still prove to be, yet in the pre-season build up he has shown capability in all aspects of his game and commands his back four vociferously.

Phew! I think that’s the squad updated, with the possibility of more to come, and fans are starting to get excited about the prospects of the new squad in a new kit attacking a new season. Bookmakers across the board have once again highlighted Yeovil as favourites to be relegated come the end of the season, yet they have been proved wrong by Skivo many times before and he will fight to do so again. Write the Glovers off at your peril and don’t waste your pound by sticking a bet on because with the stability of having more contracts than loans, strong additions to the back line, the return of a super hero, a bit of youthful exuberance, the emergence of players like Ed Upson (that is his real name) and a (metaphorical) boat load of optimism Yeovil will not get relegated.

It is about time that Yeovil took themselves to the next level and aimed for a top half finish again, as Russell Slade did when he reached the play-off final. The overall aim must be to reach the play off places but top half would be a step in the right direction and one that Skiverton as a manager should be prepared to take.

Written by Ryan Peasland, We Are Going Up’s Yeovil Town Blogger

Ryan tweets at @rpeasland