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Friday, 30 October 2009

Hayward back on board

Norman Hayward, officially co-owner and majority shareholder in the Huish Park Partnership, the company that owns the good ship YTFC and all who sail in her is set to take a more active role in the running of the football club. The official site announced yesterday that Hayward is to return to the board as a director and will be directly involved in the board's decision-making processes. There's no point in me trying to re-invent the wheel on here, check out the official site's statement and the Ciderspace news page for the full details.

So, Norman's out of the closet, so to speak, at last! Not before time either. It's been an open secret that he's been the man calling the shots in the background for some time now and has been the driving force behind all the major decisions taken at the club over the last few years. At the same time he must also be held accountable for the drift the club has suffered off the field during the same period. His appointment is the precursor to some as yet unspecified changes at the club in the near future. I await further developments with interest and fingers crossed, and the fervent hope that whatever is going to happen that the club communicates it's intentions to supporters in an open and timely fashion. We're all supposed to be on the same side after all.

Back to the footie, and two players have gone out on loan. Striker Andre McCollin and new signing Louis Laver will be plying their trade at Dorchester in the Conference South for the next month. Good luck to them.

As for the first team, it's the small matter of Leeds United, away, that concerns them this weekend. Everyone's favourites for promotion this season are also runaway favourites to win tomorrow's Elland Road clash at 2/5 on, the draw is a tempting 10/3, and a Glovers win priced at a frankly insulting 15/2. I mean, what the hell are the bookies playing at? Haven't they noticed we've just gone six games unbeaten? Yes, Leeds are top of the league and beat us 4-0 at their place last time out but surely current form should come into the equation? Okay, sensible hat on. The home win's not worth betting on, an away win may be a bridge too far even for the most optimistic Glover; my fiver's going on the draw (again). Running total: +£4.50p.

Just read: Henry: Virtuous Prince by David Starkey. Having read a lot of praise for this latest biography of Henry VIII (though it concerns itself only with his early life and has just as much to say about his father, Henry Tudor, as it does about Henry himself) I was looking forward to browsing through it. Unfortunately it doesn't live up to it's advance billing. It's dull and repetitive and gives no real insight into the characters of the major players of the time. I enjoyed and admired Starkey's recent tv series of the same name, but this book (there's another to follow) doesn't live up to it. Disappointing.

Monday, 26 October 2009

But it's alright now, in fact it's a Gas!

There's something about playing Bristol Rovers that brings out, if not the best in Yeovil Town, then something not far off the best. We've faced the Gas in nine football league games now and won four, drawn four and lost just the once. If we could play them every week then promotion would be pretty much guaranteed at that level of success. Rovers' one solitary win came in last season's game at the Mem, when they beat by 3-0 a Glovers side shell-shocked by Russell Slade's dismissal two days earlier. That loss was well and truly avenged this weekend, a 2-1 scoreline memorable in particular for Terrell Forbes first football league goal in 370-odd games. The result leaves the Glovers in the dizzy heights of 12th position in the league table, on 18 points. That's six games unbeaten now and we really couldn't be going into one of the most difficult games of the season - Leeds, away - in better heart.

The other matter of any import this weekend was the 1st round FA Cup draw. As anyone reading this will now know, we were matched up with Oxford United, away. The U's are currently top of the Conference, or Blue Square Premier as it prefers to be called these days, and will doubtless be up for the cup as any self-respecting non-league team always is. There was a comment made on the green room which made I laugh, as we say in Zummerzet, and that was that Oxford were giving thanks for the postal strike, as half of their team would have extra time for training. Geddit? Non-league side comprised of postmen and the like... Oh, please yourselves.

Their fans have been understandably getting quite excited about playing a proper football league team anyway and have INVADED the green room just as I remember us doing when we were a Conference side and were drawn against the likes of Reading and Cardiff City in the 90's. Those were the days! Us internet warriors flooded the oppositions message boards and mailing lists, telling them how we'd be turning up in our thousands and that they shouldn't under-estimate us and how we were really good 30 years ago; and doubtless we were treated then with the same amused condescension that we are now exhibiting in our turn towards the Oxford fans. The wheel of life really does turn full circle in the end.

In all seriousness it's a nasty draw for us. As we know full well any team flying in the Conference will be a decent side and difficult to beat at the best of times. They'll have home advantage, a large-ish crowd behind them and no pressure, as they will officially be the underdogs. Added to that we don't as yet know if any or all of our loan signings will be allowed to play. Let's be honest, if our loanees are permitted to play then I'll be very confident of going through, even if it takes a replay. Without them, we might just struggle.

Just read: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. It's the supposedly true story of an Australian bank robber and heroin addict who ends up in India and his life there. I say supposedly because it honestly beggars belief that one man can pack so many experiences into one part of his life and even at 926 pages long there's still another book of memoirs to come next year. It's a wonderful story whatever, well-written and it certainly sounds authentic. Some of the descriptions of life in the Bombay slum have to be read to be believed and at one time it felt like I was reading a fantasy novel, such is the completely alien world the author describes. It is a real world though, and it's right here on this planet right now. As I said above, the book is 926 pages long and in small type at that, so it's not a book to be taken lightly; but I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone. It'll open your eyes.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Glovers on a roll

It's local derby time! Well, local-ish. Bristol Rovers v Yeovil Town doesn't quite have the same tradition attached to it as Everton v Liverpool, Spurs v Arsenal or even Wrexham v Chester City; nevertheless it's the nearest thing that we've got to a derby match now that Weymouth are evidently doomed to disappear into a black hole of their own making, so we might as well make the most of it.

At least you would hope that we'd make the most of it, however it appears that we're not even going to come close to selling out our 1300 ticket allocation for the match, which is disappointing. Not that I can criticise anyone for not going to an away match, the last time I travelled away for a league game was to Kidderminster 4-5 years ago and that was only because I fancied a curry from their excellent snackbar. I didn't even go to Wembley for the play-off final three years ago, so no-one can accuse me of being a glory-hunter either. Going to away games is a vastly over-rated occupation in my humble opinion. More often than not you have to get up ludicrously early on a Saturday morning for the doubtful privilege of getting stuck in an horrendous queue of traffic for hours at a time on an anonymous motorway somewhere in the midlands, or worse still, up north. When you eventually reach your destination you can never find a pub selling decent beer and decent food, at best you may find one but never both. And then at the match itself, after running the gauntlet outside the ground of intimidating home yobbos intent on kicking the living shit out of hapless away fans you settle down in your seat (right next to another bunch of intimidating home yobbos intent on kicking the living shit out of hapless away fans) and watch your team put 11 men behind the ball in an effort to grind out a 0-0 draw; while all the time getting soaked in steady rain and deafened by a cretin with a drum who sits right behind you. Away games? You can stick 'em.

My Saturday routine when the Glovers are away is now well established and genuinely enjoyable. It consists of one window on my pc open on the best possible internet stream on which the Spurs match is featuring, another window open on the green room and another on the Sporting Life site. At the same time I have Jeff Stelling and chums on the tv and I'm as well-informed and entertained as it's possible for one football fan to be. I can have a drink and a smoke when I want, I'm warm and dry and I don't miss a goal. If all that makes me a bad fan then I'll hold my hands up. I don't miss a home game and thoroughly enjoy watching live footy. I just wouldn't go further than a mile or two these days to see it.

Anyway, I digress. Back to Saturday's match and the bookies have the Gas as favourites at 4/5 on, the draw is tempting at 5/2 and a Glovers win is priced at 7/2. Rovers started the season on fire but have had a blip over their last couple of games, losing them both. Yeovil are 5 games unbeaten now and while I can't see us winning at the Mem on Saturday I can see us not losing - my fiver's going on the draw. Running total: +£9.50p.

Skivo's got another decision to make regarding his team selection for Saturday, and it's the same conumdrum he had to solve last Saturday - namely, six loan signings into one matchday squad won't go. He surely will not change a winning team so I would expect Jon Obika to miss out once again and for the team to be unchanged from last week.

Finally, a curious little story to end the week with and illustrate, yet again, the club's unerring ability to shoot itself in the foot and alienate fans while at the same time push out someone who's given the club many years of loyal service. It emerged on the green room earlier in the week that the Glovers on a Roll burger van run by a gentleman known to one and all as Choppy was to close for good, and Choppy given the boot. The van was to be found on the top pitch car park week days and served the local community and factories/businesses around, as well as supporters on match days. It seems that the local council's licence charges of £350 per month, plus Choppy's wages, was enough to push the whole operation into unprofitability and the club, perhaps understandably, pulled the plug. So far so unfortunate, especially for Choppy, but that's life, eh? After all, there's a recession on and plenty of people are losing their jobs. The club even put a small tribute to Choppy on the official site, which was nice, and more than the likes of Stuart Housley and John Flatters ever got. What wasn't so nice however was this advert that the club placed in the Western Gazette at the same time this week:

Catering department: require Full or Part time Catering wagon staff to work Monday to Friday. Please contact Clive Robinson at Yeovil Town Football club for further details. 01935 423662 Extension 222 or 215.

So with one hand the club waves goodbye to an old employee popular with supporters and regular customers on the grounds that they can't afford to keep him; with the other they're trying to recruit someone new, to do the same job in the same van they've previously refused to pay the licence for. Something doesn't quite add up. There's a nasty taste left in the mouth. And it's not Choppy's burgers that's causing that.

Just watched: Masterchef: The Professionals. (BBC2). Talking of food, I enjoy cooking programmes generally but this one is the pick of the bunch, though Saturday Kitchen on BBC1 runs it close. Always interesting to see what food the contestants produce but the real stars of the show are the two judges, Michel and the ex-football hooligan, Greg. There's something very sensual about the way both men eat their food, the way they load their forks (or spoons) with huge portions and then oh so slowly push them into their gaping maws and masticate thoroughly, and then lovingly identify every single ingredient used to make the dish. I've even caught myself doing the same thing now at home at mealtimes which doesn't half piss off my better half when she plonks a plate of sausages, fried eggs, baked beans and chips down in front of me, but that's another story. Nice to see the right chef win the thing anyway and roll on the next series.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

L1: Yeovil 3 Carlisle 1

Another game of two halves yesterday at Huish Park, but this time it was the Glovers who imposed themselves on our visitors from the off yesterday, dominating the first half and sweeping into a thoroughly deserved 2-0 lead at the break with 2 goals from the excellent Ryan Mason. In a mirror-image of last week's match, it was Carlisle who rallied after the break, pulling a goal back from a penalty and pushing the Glovers back. The home side still looked dangerous on the break however and substitute Kieran Murtagh made the game safe with Yeovil's 3rd with only a few minutes left. Thoroughly entertaining stuff and good to see a few more home fans turning up in the crowd of 4,333 - I estimated around 250-300 at most made the trip down from Cumbria.

The Glovers lined up as follows in the now familiar 4-2-3-1 (or 4-4-1-1 if you prefer) formation:

1. Alex McCarthy: 8/10 - Probably his best display of the season. Made one terrific save in the second half when a goal looked certain and otherwise dominated his area. Some people on the green room were questioning McCarthy's aerial ability last week - he made them eat their words yesterday.

2. Craig Alcock: 8/10 - And probably his best display of the season. I've been questioning Craig's passing lately and he made me eat my words by providing Ryan Mason with an inch-perfect ball for his first goal. Neat and tidy defensively and always willing to provide an overlapping attacking option. First-class.

5. Steven Caulker: 8/10 - You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone, as the song goes and Steven's return from international duty showed how much we missed him last week. Never looks flustered or hurried, dominant in the air and as much passing ability as any midfielder. More than played his part in not giving either Scott Dobie or Vincent Pericard a sniff of a chance.

6. Terrell Forbes: 7/10 - I've marked him down a point for diving in unnecessarily to give Carlisle a penalty. Pretty much faultless otherwise.

3. Nathan Jones: 5/10 - Didn't play as badly as some on the green room would have you believe, but not entirely convincing either. At least he's stopped bawling at his teammates at the drop of a hat.

16. Scott Murray: 6/10 - Always going to be tough to follow up last week's MOTM display. Provided some threat on the right in the first half, but faded out of the game after the break.

21. JP Kalala: 7/10 - Mr Consistency. Does all the hard graft in midfield that often goes unnoticed.

25. Shaun MacDonald: 8/10 - As with JP above, does the hard graft in midfield but adds touches of exquisite skill as well. This week he reminded me of Steve Stott (older fans will remember him) but with bags more skill, pace and application. Excellent.

11. Andy Welsh: 7/10 - Good performance from Andy, always looking to get involved and instrumental in the build-ups to the second and third Yeovil goals. Starting to add consistency to his undoubted flashes of brilliance.

13. Ryan Mason: 9/10 - What can you say? Took his two most obvious chances clinically and could easily have scored a hat-trick with a tad more luck. Ran the game in the first half from his more advanced position in the hole and all I can say to that is: Told you so. So much more to come from him too, as long as he can stay fit. Can we keep him all season? That's my only concern. In the meantime, enjoy him while he is here.

9. Sam Williams: 7/10 - A brave display from Sam, left very much on his own up front and once again battered from pillar to post by a physical opposition backline. Never stopped competing however and unlucky not to score with a shot that just screwed wide of the post. He's making it very difficult for Skivo to even consider dropping him, and you can't say fairer than that.

Subs used:
8. Keiran Murtagh (87 mins for Scott Murray): N/A - Despite his goal, not on long enough to give a mark to.

30. Craig Davies (76 mins for Ryan Mason): 6/10 - Began on the right and looked awful, consistently giving the ball away. Finished in the centre alongside Williams and looked much more potent.

A very pleasing win then, not least because it leaves me £14.50 in credit in my weekly battle with the bookies, and a thoroughly entertaining game. The three points takes us up to 14th in the table, 4 points away from the relegation zone and 4 points away from the play-offs. With 2 very tough away games up next (at Bristol Rovers and Leeds respectively) that little buffer zone between ourselves and the relegation places may well be needed, but having said that we shouldn't put ourselves down. The squad Skivo has assembled as it stands has now gone five games undefeated and judging by every other team I've seen at Huish Park this season is certainly competitive in this division. We should travel to the Mem and Elland Road under no pressure and with no fear, and with every reason for hope.

This has been a party political broadcast on behalf of those of us whose glasses are not only green-tinted but half-full. Normal pessimism will be resumed at a future date. Thank you for listening.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Carlisle preview

We've signed another player, and the shock news is that it's a semi-permanent signing, not a loan. I say semi-permanent inasmuch that it's only for 3 months, with a view to making it longer if all parties agree at the end of that time. The player concerned is a left-sided defender, 19-year-old Louis Laver, a Watford academy graduate who was released by the Hornets in the summer.

The Glovers entertain Carlisle tomorrow in another match that would be regarded as a six-pointer if it was April. As it's October however tomorrow's game is in fact just another run-of-the-mill bottom of the table clash. The bookies make Yeovil favourites at 7/5, the draw is priced at 23/10 and a Carlisle win at 19/10. My fiver's going on the home win. Running total: +£2.50p.

As far as team selection for tomorrow is concerned then Skivo has an embarrassment of loan player riches to call upon. With six loanees on the books and only five eligible for the match-day squad it doesn't take a rocket science or a mathematician to work out that one of our starlets will be kicking their heels on the sidelines tomorrow. Which one would you drop? For what it's worth I have a feeling that Ryan Mason may miss out on the starting XI, though still be on the subs bench. I base that opinion on nothing more scientific than the fact that he played a full game in midweek for England u-19's and has travelled a fair distance as well and might be knackered. The unlucky player to miss out altogether could well be Craig Davies, simply because he's only here for another couple of weeks and we've still got Dean Bowditch to come back in the fairly near future.

My team for tomorrow then (in a 4-2-3-1 formation):

Alex McCarthy,
Craig Alcock, Steven Caulker, Terrell Forbes, Nathan Smith,
JP Kalala, Shaun MacDonald,
Scott Murray, George O'Callaghan, Andy Welsh,
Sam Williams

Subs: Richard Martin, Andy Lindegaard (or Danny Hutchins) Nathan Jones, Stefan Stam (if fit), Ryan Mason, Gavin Tomlin, Jon Obika,

What, I hear you say, have you completely lost the plot Taff? Obika on the bench? No Gavin Tomlin? O'Callaghan in the Ryan Mason/attacking midfielder/second striker role? Yes, yes, yes. Williams has been playing well lately, albeit without scoring. Tomlin has had his chance as the second striker and on the whole hasn't delivered, or at least not consistently. O'Callaghan is an attacking midfielder by preference and deserves to keep his place after a decent display last week against Brighton - give him the chance to impress in the position he prefers. Obika hasn't appeared as sharp lately and to my mind doesn't deserve to supplant Williams as the main striker on current performances. On the bench we have the likes of Mason, Tomlin and Obika to bring on if Plan A doesn't work. Sorted.

Skivo's been complaining to the press about the rumours surrounding Scott Murray's position in the squad this season, saying that reports of him falling out with the Scot were always nonsense and that it was purely the winger's tendonitis that kept him out of the team and anyone saying anything else is a shit-stirring scumbag who doesn't know what he's talking about (I may have exaggerated Skivo's actual words there, but that was the gist). To which I would say, yes, you're probably right gaffer. But the only reason rumours like those surrounding Murray spread is because of a lack of communication from the club. If there had been regular updates on Murray's condition then there would have been no controversy, no stories of people falling out with each other. But all we had was silence, and rumour loves a vacuum. It's dead simple: Proper and open communication leads to everyone knowing the truth and rumour-mongering dead in the water. Communicate, communicate, communicate!

Muffwatch: Loans are being called in, the bank wants it's money back, the end is nigh. There's a cracking article on twohundredpercent that sums up the whole sorry mess that is Weymouth FC as well as anything else I've read. There comes a time when one wonders if Muff fans wouldn't be better off cutting their losses and starting again from scratch. AFC Weymouth anyone?

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Slade alive!* Yeovil 2 Brighton 2

*Not just the title of a rather good live album by the eponymous 70's glam-rockers, but also a description of the health of the former Glovers manager Russell Slade, who was present at Huish Park yesterday for the 2-2 draw between Yeovil and Slade's current side Brighton after being laid low by a virus last week, which put his attendance at the match in some doubt. There was a lot of talk beforehand about what sort of reception Russell would receive from Glovers fans, in the event it seemed from where I was in the Cowlin that he was treated no differently than any other visiting manager, and fair enough at that.

The match itself was very much a game of two halves, with the Seagulls dominating the opening stanza and the Glovers on top for the final 45 minutes. Yeovil began diffidently, not surprisingly perhaps for a team shorn of so many regular starters, and the visitors took advantage by going 2-0 up after 41 minutes and in truth looked full value for that lead. Scott Murray's well-taken first half injury-time goal gave the Glovers hope for the second half and Skivo's team talk obviously pulled no punches because after the break we were a different side. Yeovil pushed forward and dominated possession and thoroughly deserved the equaliser when it came in the 81st minute, Murray again the scorer.

We lined up as follows, in a 4-2-3-1 formation, though this changed to a standard 4-4-2 in the second half:

1. Alex McCarthy: 6/10 - Not sure he was his usual solid self yesterday - looked a little unsure at times, especially on crosses. Maybe all the travelling he's done took it's toll.

18. Andy Lindegaard: 4/10 - A quiet day at the office for Andy. Very, very quiet.

6. Terrell Forbes: 8/10 - Another outstanding display. We've always known he's a good L1 centre-half, this season he's been an excellent L1 centre-half. Looking increasingly dangerous at set-pieces going forward too, and won the penalty that led to the equaliser. Great stuff!

2. Craig Alcock: 6/10 - Pressed into action as an emergency centre-half and generally did well in an unfamiliar position. Always struggling with the high balls however and their first goal followed directly from a poor clearing header.

3. Nathan Jones: 5/10 - Steady game. Unspectacular. Okay. That's it.

21. Jean-Paul Kalala: 6/10 - JP's match was a microcosm of the Glovers as a whole. Poor in the first half, much improved after the break.

7. George O'Callaghan: 6/10 - As above, a poor first half followed by a much better second period. Looked to be getting forward more after the break and was much better for it. Might he be worth a go as the attacking midfielder/second striker in the 4-2-3-1 formation when Ryan Mason isn't available? I think he might.

16. Scott Murray: 9/10 - That's why we signed him! A constant threat on the right, provided a steady stream of quality crosses and took both goals with aplomb. More, please.

10. Gavin Tomlin: 4/10 - Not his day. No surprise that he was substituted fairly early in the second half.

11. Andrew Welsh: 6/10 - Made our first goal with a good break on the left, but relatively quiet otherwise.

9. Sam Williams: 7/10 - Battered from pillar to post by Brighton's thug defenders and given absolutely no help by the idiot referee and his equally moronic assistants. Nevertheless still a good outlet and did his best to bring others into the game. Needs to start scoring more himself however, otherwise he will be displaced when others return.

26. Jonathan Obika (58 mins for Gavin Tomlin): 5/10 - Nice to see him back, but on this form I'd prefer to see Craig Davies on the pitch next time out.

I don't normally mention the officials but yesterday's threesome are worthy of a mild rant. Both of Brighton's goals came directly after erroneously awarded free-kicks, both coincidentally given against the unfortunate Sam Williams, and while the defence should undoubtedly have dealt better than they did with the resultant free-kicks (both from deep in the Brighton half) the fact remains the ref, Oliver Langford, and his assistants got it badly wrong in the first place. It's been a long time since I've heard all three home stands at Huish Park united in a chorus of 'the referee's a wanker' like on Saturday. The crowd's disapproval evidently had its effect at any rate, as in the second half Mr Langford was transformed into an 'homer', with barely a decision going against the Glovers, culminating in the award of a penalty. Doesn't make up for those bad first half decisions of course...

Four games in a row unbeaten then, or to put it another way 6 points out of the last 12. Next up is another struggling side, Carlisle, at home. With the return of all our loanees next week team selection becomes even more interesting, but it's the kind of 'interesting' that all manager's enjoy.

Muffwatch: The issue that's caused more angst and division amongst Weymouth supporters than any other has finally been settled: The smoking ban at the Wessex Stadium has been lifted. All 541 (count 'em!) Muffers at yesterday's 0-5 home defeat against the mighty Maidenhead could poof puff away to their hearts content, and to be fair they probably needed to after a 0-5 home loss. Their manager, former Glover Matty Hale, had enough after yesterday's debacle anyway, and handed in his notice after the game. Who can blame him? Judging by yesterday's attendance most Weymouth fans appear to have already jumped from the sinking ship.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Russell's return a reality check

Tomorrow sees the return of former manager Russell Slade to Huish Park when he brings his struggling Brighton side to Somerset. There's been a lot of talk on the green room about what sort of welcome he'll get from the fans. For what it's worth I hope he gets a decent reception. He was here for nearly three years, kept us in League One against the odds and against even greater odds took us to the play-offs and Wembley, including what in my opinion was this club's best ever match, that long-ago FA Cup win over Sunderland notwithstanding - the 5-2 play-off semi-final win at the City Ground against Nottingham Forest, live on Sky tv. For that alone, he deserves a respectful reception at the very least and I hope he gets one.

That's if he comes at all! The news from Brighton yesterday was that Slade was ill at home with a virus and had stayed away from training so as not to pass on the illness to his squad. There's no word at the time of writing as to whether he'll be be recovered enough to attend tomorrow. As for the match itself it seems vaguely absurd to call any game in October a six-pointer so I'll resist that temptation, nevertheless a win tomorrow for Terry Skiverton's men would be especially welcome against a team currently below us in the table.

Skivo's team selection tomorrow has of course been complicated by the absence of every single one of our loan players on international duty (the self-inflicted wound of Craig Davies aside), thanks to the FA's insistence that youth loans don't count as real loans. The real strength in depth of our squad is about to be tested like never before this season. The opportunity is there however for fringe players to push their claims for a regular first team place forward, let's hope they take it. The selection is further complicated by the absence of central defender Stefan Stam with a knee injury. This leaves just Terrell Forbes as the only available centre-half, so unless Skivo is going to take a chance on slotting someone like Craig Alcock into an unfamiliar postion then he's going to have to come out of semi-retirement himself to take on the role. The Glovers played a behind-closed-doors friendly against Dorchester on Monday - it would have been fascinating to find out who played in the central defensive positions in that match as doubtless it would have given us some clues about Skivo's thinking ahead of tomorrow's game.

My team would be as follows, in a 4-2-3-1 formation:

Alex McCarthy (if available, Richard Martin otherwise),
Craig Alcock, Terry Skiverton, Terrell Forbes, Nathan Smith
JP Kalala, Kieran Murtagh,
Scott Murray, Gavin Tomlin, Andy Welsh
Sam Williams

No doubt I'll be wide of the mark as usual! The bookies have the Glovers down as 8/5 favourites for the game, the draw is priced at 23/10 and a Brighton win at 13/8. My fiver's going on the home win, though to be honest with our absentees I'd take the draw if you offered it me now. Running total: +£7.50p

Away from tomorrow's game there's been much talk on the green room this week about the shortcomings of the relationship between the club's board and the fanbase generally, with the lack of clear communication from the board and owner cited as the main obstacle to a better relationship. Sadly we had yet another example of that lack of communication in action again this week, with the announcement that the much discussed membership scheme has been abandoned. Well, I say there was an announcement, two or three lines buried in a more general article in the Western Gazette seems to be the extent of the announcement, with nothing on the club's official site or any other outlet.

It seems that the club have decided that the Green & White Supporters Club will act as a kind of de-facto membership scheme, with GWSC members receiving priority behind season-ticket holders in terms of access to tickets to in-demand cup matches (remember them?!) and the like. Now as a season-ticket holder myself this decision doesn't affect me at all and in many ways I can understand the logic behind the club's decision, especially as the GWSC is being run in a democratic manner these days and and not as a kind of personal fiefdom as in times past. Leaving aside the rights and wrongs of the decision itself however, the merits or otherwise of the proposed membership scheme were discussed at length by the Achieve By Unity Fans Partnership (and before that the Customer Charter Meeting's) as well as being the subject of an extensive consultative process. A lot of supporters put a lot of time and effort into the proposed scheme and deserve more in the way of explanation from the club about it's abandonment than a few lines in an article in the local paper. But communication, as the club proves time after time, is not its strong point.

And that's a shame, as without such communication supporters are then left with the impression that their time has been wasted and their input not valued. And another barrier between the club and it's fans slams into place, all through a lack of proper communication. What a waste.

Monday, 5 October 2009

The curate's egg

It was another decent result for the Glovers this weekend. A 0-0 draw at an Oldham side that has previously won 3 games on the trot is not to be sniffed at. Coincidentally that's Yeovil's third game in a row without conceding a goal, another record not to be sniffed at. It's all very well espousing the art of playing attractive, attacking football but the reality is that if the opposition don't score then you can't lose, something that Skivo appears to be taking on board. All successful teams are built on having a solid defence and the introduction of the 4-2-3-1 formation with 2 defensive midfielders protecting the back 4 has certainly had the desired effect of making us hard to break down, and I'm not concerned by the fact that we've not managed to score in 2 away games against decent sides. We are scoring at home and as any Championship Manager knows, you win your home games and draw away and you'll soon be promoted! Okay, calm down, we're not going to be promoted, but mid-table mediocrity is attainable, with any luck.

So, 11 games gone, nearly a quarter of the season, and the Glovers lie 18th in the league table on 11 points. We've won 2, drawn 5 and lost 4; have scored 12 and conceded 13, a goal difference of -1. Keep that record up for the rest of the season and we will almost certainly be relegated with a grand total of around 44-46 points. Skivo out after all then, despite what I said a couple of weeks ago?

Of course not. Our last 3 games surely provide the blueprint for how we must play for the rest of the season and if we can keep to those standards then we will be relatively comfortable by May. There are two bloody great chickens waiting to come home to roost however, and one of those fowls happens also to be one of our greatest strengths - the loan players at the club. At best they are all here until December, it could be that all or at least some have gone by January, though equally it might be that all or some will stay for longer. We just don't know. The other fly in the ointment (to mix my metaphors) is January itself and the transfer window. While we can say with complete certainty that Yeovil will not be buying anyone during the window, we cannot make the same statement about selling. Skivo then may well be faced by a double whammy in the new year - the loss of key loan players, plus the transfer out of one or two key permanent signings. Added to that other key players - the likes of Terrell Forbes and JP Kalala for example - are only contracted until December at present. One hopes that talks to extend their contracts will begin soon if they haven't begun already, and remove at least that uncertainty from the equation.

Of course it all comes down to money in the end and the bare facts are that Yeovil doesn't have enough of it. The reliance on loan players this season and over the last couple of seasons suggests that we don't have the resources to sustain an adequately-sized first-team squad and the drop in crowds this season will do nothing to change that. We can and do castigate the board for failing to develop existing revenue streams at the club but at the same time applaud them for keeping us more-or-less in the black - there's a contradiction there that can drive you mad if you think about it long enough. The fact is that the board have failed. We have stayed in League One despite them, not because of them. Their failure to deliver off the pitch contrasts sharply with the achievements on it. Where is the new social club, the new stand that's been talked about for so long, the new investment? This board has had long enough to deliver the goods, if they can't then they should put the club up for sale and leave it to those who can. The board have relied on player sales to keep us solvent, but when that particular well runs dry what is the alternative? There is none, and that is the board's greatest failure. But it's Skivo that's left to pick up the pieces.

To sum up the first quarter of the season then, on the pitch it's an improving picture. Skivo's team is settling into a recognised pattern of play and have begun to show they have the potential to stay in this league. Off the pitch it's the same old story of inertia, missed opportunities and a lack of investment. A regular curate's egg.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Sweet FA from the FA

Just a quickie post this evening ahead of the Glovers away game at Oldham tomorrow. The bookies have the Latics as favourites (I wrote that before even looking at the odds!) for the win at 4/5 on, the draw is priced at 13/5 and a Yeovil win at a not overly generous 7/2. Oldham have won their last three on the trot, however such is the nature of League One that a team has to be really very good indeed to win more than three in a row, and I'm not sure Oldham are that good. With two clean sheets in a row we're starting to see some signs over the last couple of games that Skivo's side is beginning to adjust to life in this league this season. The draw would be the safer bet, but I've a sneaky feeling we may just surprise a few people tomorrow. My fiver's going on the away win. Running total: +£12.50p.

It's been a good week for the Glovers on the pitch, not so good off it. The first team followed up Saturday's win over Brentford with a very useful point at Millwall on Tuesday evening. We kept a clean sheet again and hit the woodwork twice, the signs are definitely encouraging. Off the pitch however we appear to have lost our battle with the FA to postpone the league match at home to Brighton a week tomorrow. As usual it seems it's one rule for the big clubs and another for Yeovil. Leeds have had their match away at Bristol Rovers postponed because 3 of their first-teamers are away on international duty; we will have 5 first-teamers away on international duty on the same day but because most of them are classed as 'youth loans' we are not apparently entitled to call our league game off. It's a complete nonsense of course, if the players are first-teamers then what on earth difference does it make if they are youths or on long-term loans - they're missing and they're playing for their countries, that's all that should matter. But of course common-sense and the FA are rarely synonymous with each other.

The other setback the club received this week also came off the pitch when it was revealed that the beer tent was burgled at some time on Wednesday night. Over £1,000 worth of drinks and a 42" plasma tv donated to the club by the Away Travel Club was nicked. That was the bad news, the really bad news was that the marquee itself was not only left behind but was undamaged and is expected to open as usual for the next home game. Sometimes it never rains but it pours.

Finally can I just say how pleased I was to see that Rio De Janeiro won the right to stage the 2016 Olympic Games ahead of rival cities such as Chicago in particular. Not that I'm really that interested in the Olympics as such, though doubtless I'll take a bit of notice of the London games when they roll around in 3 years time, but it's good to see the games going somewhere different for a change, rather than the same old countries or even continents. This will be the first time the games have been held in South America and really, it's about time.