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Thursday, 29 April 2010

Glass half empty

It's been a funny old week. The Glovers drew 1-1 at Brentford last weekend to more-or-less assure themselves of safety, but there's been no great outpouring of relief or satisfaction from either the club or the fanbase. Maybe that's because we're not mathematically safe as yet, though to be sure it would take a quite remarkable sequence of results from several different teams below us to put us back in the relegation frame now. It can all be put to bed on Saturday, when a point against fellow strugglers Oldham will be enough to secure League One football for a sixth successive season regardless of what any other team does.

Let's think about that for a minute. A sixth successive season at the highest level this club has ever played at! It ought to be a cause for celebration, another triumph against the odds, but it really doesn't feel like that. The club lives from hand to mouth and while we can recognise intellectually that finishing just above the relegation zone - again - is an achievement, it's not an achievement that gladdens the soul and quickens the blood. After all, what do we have to look forward to next season? At best, more of the same, the eternal struggle to avoid relegation, to remain a small fish in a big pool punching above our weight, to borrow from the YTFC book of cliches. Play-off's, or automatic promotion? On our budget? You're having a laugh. Actually, what's remarkable is quite how few games one has to win to stay in this division. With 2 games to go we are virtually safe and have won a grand total of 12 games from 44 played. Astonishing.

Ah, it's been a long season and at times quite a fraught one too. We've been much too reliant on loan players for most people's liking and you can't see that changing next season. But without those loan players the lack of any kind of strength in depth in the squad is concerning. Our occasional reserve side, including 8 first team squad players, lost 2-0 at Welton Rovers earlier in the week in the semi-final of the Somerset Premier Cup. All due respect to Welton, but a 2-0 loss against them would have been a bad result for our youth team. To lose against them with a team containing 8 first team players is a bit of a worry, to say the least.

Two games left to play in the season then and to be honest it will be a relief when it's all over. It didn't ought to be like this. All those years we played in the Southern League, the Isthmian League and then the Conference, we yearned to be in the Football League and now we're here and established and at times it's a real struggle. And that's despite the fact that at least at home, under Skivo we've generally tried to play attractive, passing football, even if at times it hasn't come off. I was looking at the Stevenage forum last week, reading all the messages of joy and relief from their supporters following their promotion to the Football League. It reminded me very strongly of how we felt 8 years ago when we won the Conference, the sense of anticipation we had in the season to come and the collective pride we all felt, pride in our town and pride in our club. Enjoy it while you can Stevenage fans, the reality of the Football League will rub off all that optimism soon enough.

We go into Saturday's match with half the team apparently carrying injuries. Shaun MacDonald has gone back to his parent club, Sam Williams and Aidan Downes are out for the rest of the season. The Glovers are 11/10 favourites to win, the draw is priced at 12/5 and an Oldham win is also 12/5. I fancy us to limp rather than sprint over the finishing line - my fiver is going on the draw. Running total: +£8.88p.

One more home game to go. Roll on summer, roll on the World Cup. I've had enough of this season.

Just read: The Seventh Scroll by Wilbur Smith, and The Complaints by Ian Rankin: My fourth Wilbur in a row and probably the weakest of the four I've read so far, or perhaps I'm just Wilbured out for now? That's not to say The Seventh Scroll is not a good read or I didn't enjoy it, I did; It's just not quite up to the standards of the previous titles I've read by the author. It's basically a treasure hunt set in modern day Ethiopia and is part of the author's 'Egypt' series. Having damned the title with faint praise I still managed to gallop through all 600-odd pages in about 3 days, so it must have something to recommend it. As for The Complaints; the king is dead, long live the new king! Rankin introduces us to a new protagonist after Rebus, Malcolm Fox, a copper investigating other coppers. The backdrop is still Edinburgh and as such familiar from the Rebus novels, and Rankin manages to make his new hero as distinctive and original as Rebus was, without inviting unwanted comparisons. Excellent stuff.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Brentford betting

A quickie post just ahead of this afternoon's crucial game at Brentford. We all know what's at stake - a win and we can look forward to our 6th consecutive season in League One, anything else and it will go to next week's home game against Oldham. Griffin Park is a tough place to go to get a result. The Bees haven't lost at home since last October, but on the other hand have nothing left to play for anymore this season, whereas the Glovers will surely be going all out to attack. The bookies make the home side favourites at 11/10, the draw is priced at 12/5 and the away win at 12/5. My fiver will be going on a Yeovil win. Running total: +£13.88p. Come on you greens!

Just read: A Time To Die and The Quest by Wilbur Smith: I've been on a bit of a Wilbur Smith binge lately, the first time I've read any of his novels and all I can say is how did I go go long without trying his books before now? Wonderful storytelling, high adventure and all three of the novels I've read by him have been very different. Of these two, A Time To Die is set on the border of modern day Zimbabwe and Mozambique and is a high octane thriller; The Quest is completely different, a fantasy set in ancient Egypt; both are hugely readable and immensely enjoyable. Highly recommended.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

L1: Yeovil 0 Southampton 1

Football can be a cruel game sometimes. The Glovers deserved so much more than they got from yesterday's match, but that's two games in a row now that injury-time goals have cost us points, and that's something the team and management must look at. We should be 4 points better off now than we actually are, and looking at the certainty of League One football again next season. As it is we're not out of the woods yet and need at least another win from our final three matches to assure safety. The good news is that if we approach our final three games in the same positive manner that we've played this week, then surely that win will come.

Yesterday's visitors Southampton are so far ahead of us in any measure you care to make it's not even funny, but where we can and did match them is in heart. The Saints dominated the first 30 minutes of the match, creating chance after chance after chance but a combination of good goalkeeping, profligate finishing and last-ditch defending kept the score goalless. The Glovers gradually came more and more into the match, Townsend and Kalala began to make their presence felt in midfield and Gavin Williams started to find space to spray the ball around. By half-time the Glovers were more than matching their visitors and both Bowditch and Tomlin had spurned excellent chances, misses that were to come back to haunt the home side at full-time. The bulk of the second half contained more of the same, with the Saints probably enjoying more possession but the home side counter-attacking with real intent and threat and looking more likely to score. The Glovers task was on paper made easier when Saints midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin was dismissed on 70 minutes for violent conduct after a kick on Gavin Williams, and the visitors were somewhat fortunate not to receive another red card a few minutes later when Jose Fonte fouled Williams with the midfielder bursting through on goal. As time went on the visitors again began to look more threatening despite being a man down and in a last gasp bid to keep their season alive put on two more strikers to try to force the win. In contrast the Glovers by now seemed happy to take the draw, the feeling reinforced when the sole striker Bowditch was replaced by a midfielder, Murtagh, with 2 minutes to go. The effect was to leave Yeovil with no outlet when clearing the ball and Southampton were able to play out injury-time in the Yeovil half. With strikers of the calibre of Barnard, Waigo, Connolly and Lambert on the pitch this was always going to be risky; and sure enough it was Barnard, a £500,000 snip from Southend in the January transfer window, who popped up in the 3rd minute of injury time to head home the winner and break Yeovil hearts.

Merit marks as follows:

1. Alex McCarthy: 8/10 - Kept Southampton out almost single-handedly at times during the first half. Had a lot less to do after the break. Helpless for their goal.

2. Craig Alcock: 7/10 - Typically solid display. One of the most improved players in the team. At the start of the season he could be relied upon to make at least one bad error per match. Nowadays he can be relied upon, as simple (and effective) as that.

5. Steven Caulker and 6. Terrell Forbes: 8/10 - Immense partnership at the back. Ricky Lambert has been scoring for fun against all-comers all season but for most of the game he didn't get a sniff. Caulker has been getting all the plaudits all season and rightly so, but Forbes is equally deserving of praise. Sign him up NOW.

28. Nathan Smith: 8/10 - Back to his best. Marauding runs down the left, combining well with Andy Welsh and his defending is top-notch too. His long-throws are starting to become a useful weapon as well. Sign him up NOW.

10. Gavin Tomlin: 6/10 - Worked extremely hard all match and got himself into a couple of great goalscoring opportunities - but didn't score.

21. JP Kalala and 25. Shaun MacDonald: 8/10 - After a dodgy first 20-25 minutes where they both looked off the pace they began to find a measure of control in midfield, which they didn't relinquish until that unhappy last 5 minutes of injury time. Sign Kalala up NOW.

11. Andy Welsh: 8/10 - Combined really well with Smith to provide a real attacking threat on the left. Not his fault that all too often his crosses led to nothing because of a lack of numbers in the box. If only Sam Williams had been on the pitch!

20. Gavin Williams: 8/10 - Once again the creative fulcrum of the team, once up to the ferocious pace Southampton set at the start. The only thing I'd criticise him for (and it's a very mild criticism!) is for trying to find that killer ball once to often when he himself is in a good position to shoot.

14. Dean Bowditch: 6/10 - Put himself about well again and got into good positions to score but unfortunately left his shooting boots at home. Sign him up anyway, NOW.

8. Keiran Murtagh (88 mins for Dean Bowditch): N/A - Not on long enough to make an impression.

Despite the disappointment of losing there were plenty of positives to take from the game. The fact is that for much of the match we matched and even bettered a Southampton side that to my limited knowledge has spent at least £1.5 million on just 2 players in the last year (both of them strikers). The match itself was thoroughly entertaining and as in the Millwall game last Tuesday we played some very good passing football albeit without an eventual end product. It was good to see the biggest crowd of the season at Huish Park with probably the highest number of home fans all season - let's hope the generally positive vibe of the day will persuade the irregular attenders to come more often in future. The negatives - well, we lost, yet again to an injury-time goal. We have got to learn to close out games properly, something I don't think was helped by the substitution of our only striker for a midfielder with 2 minutes left. It's easy to be too critical of Skivo here however - look at the options he had on our bench and then look at the options Alan Pardew had on his bench. The difference is chalk and cheese.

Onwards and hopefully upwards anyway. Brentford away next weekend in a game which will mean a great deal to us but hopefully not so much to them. I'm hoping we'll go into the game in the same positive vein that we've approached the last 3 games. If we do I'm convinced that we can get the result we need to be playing in League One next season.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

L1: Yeovil 1 Millwall 1

This is what football should always be like. A good atmosphere, the away terrace more or less full, two teams committed to attack and a referee prepared to let the game flow. What more could you want? Well, a win would have been nice, but let's not be churlish. This was one of the Glovers best performances of the season and against a side unbeaten in their last 18 matches and in second place of the table. And make no mistake, for 93 minutes out of the 94 played we battered Millwall, outplayed them and generally looked like the side that was going for automatic promotion. To fall at the final hurdle and allow a bit of a soft equaliser in the depths of injury time was gutting, but let's not dwell on that. The performance as a whole was hugely encouraging, and that's the most important thing.

We lined up as follows (4-4-1-1):

1. Alex McCarthy: 7/10 - Oh, Alex. Faultless for 93 minutes and then one small error which let Millwall in for their equalizer. That's life for goalkeepers.

2. Craig Alcock: 7/10 - Fine display of modern full-back play. A threat going forward, good defensively and solid at set-pieces.

5. Steven Caulker: 7/10 - Another dominating display in the heart of the defence. He and Forbes kept the prolific Morrison and Harris in their pockets all night.

6. Terrell Forbes: 7/10 - As above. Never mind all this wait until we're safe bollocks, he must be signed on a long-term contract NOW.

28. Nathan Smith: 8/10 - Probably Nathan's best game this season. Rampaging runs forward, excellent when defending, getting better and better all the time. Sign him on a long term contract NOW.

10. Gavin Tomlin: 7/10 - Played on the right side of midfield again and though he's not a natural in that position you get the feeling he's growing into it. He's a bit like Marmite though, half the crowd love him and the other half want to see him substituted 10 minutes ago. Me, I think he's worth another year at least. Sign him up NOW.

21. JP Kalala: 8/10 - More of a box-to-box midfielder these days than a purely defensive player, he adds just as much to the team's offensive play as he does winning the ball. Sign him up on a long-term contract NOW.

25. Shaun MacDonald: 8/10 - I had a dream the other night that Swansea released the Ginger Prince on a free transfer in the summer and we signed him on a long-term contract. It could happen, couldn't it? Dreams do sometimes come true...

11. Andy Welsh: 6/10 - I can see why Skivo drops Welsh as often as he does. He's by no means a bad player, his dead ball delivery is excellent and his crossing generally good, but there's something missing somehow. He tracks back, gets in the right positions but he couldn't tackle his way out of a paper bag and you just know if there's a fifty/fifty or a contested header he won't win the ball. I'd still play him more often than not for his attacking skills, but you need a bloody good full-back behind him to make up for his shortcomings. Fortunately, we've got one in Nathan Smith.

20. Gavin Williams: 9/10 - The missing link in the side. Played in the hole behind the main striker and from there popped up all over the pitch creating mayhem wherever he went. How good would it be if somehow both he and MacDonald were here again next season? I'd happily pay double the price of a season ticket to see that.

14. Dean Bowditch: 8/10 - I've criticised Dean in the past for being somewhat invisible unless he scores. Not this time. He's no target man like Sam Williams but he was all over the pitch last night, led the line superbly and took his goal with aplomb. Sign him up on a long-term contract NOW.

17. Aidan Downes (80 mins for Andy Welsh): 6/10 - Put himself about for the short time he was on. Skivo's got a decision to make about Aidan in the summer. Is he worth another contract? I don't know.

There were two slightly disappointing aspects to the evening. Firstly, why no minute's silence for the late Malcolm Gold? I appreciate the players wore black armbands in his memory, but you would have thought that if the club went to the trouble of having a minute's silence for two dead Leeds fans last week then an ex-player of the club and a local lad to boot would be worthy of the same honour. And it was disappointing to hear the reception a minority of fans gave to Jon Obika. What he did to deserve the outbreak of booing he received when he came on as a second-half substitute I just don't understand - his goals were vital in keeping us in League One last season and let's not forget he was our top scorer this season until a couple of weeks ago. It was almost poetic justice to see him score Millwall's equaliser and he showed his class by refraining from celebrating after he scored. A pity some of our fans couldn't show the same sort of class.

Still, other than that it was a cracking night. Some of our football was sublime - one touch passing on the floor with superb movement and a real work ethic throughout the team. It bodes well for the future. It's time now though for the board to play their part by allowing Skivo to sign up those players he needs who are out of contract next season - I'm thinking particularly now of Bowditch, Smith, Kalala and Forbes, and I personally would retain Tomlin too - in order for the manager to start the summer with a solid base from which to build the rest of his squad.

Just read: Monsoon by Wilbur Smith. Wow! My first Wilbur Smith epic and it won't be my last. A juggernaut of a book which blows you away with the sheer force of its storytelling, grabs hold of you and doesn't let go until you've read the final page. I suppose the best way to describe it is as an historical adventure story for adults. Thoroughly entertaining.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Million dollar bash

It will have come as no surprise to anyone to see that Yeovil Town's latest set of accounts show a large loss. What will come as a surprise to most people are the scale of those losses, a few thousand pounds shy of £1 million over the financial year. I don't propose to reinvent the wheel by going through the few details the club sees fit to release, see part 1 and part 2 of the Ciderspace news page for as many of the details as can be gleaned from the auditors statement, with the club's version of events on it's official site.

The club's statement begs as many questions as it answers. It blames the main part of the loss on the lack of player sales during the period in question plus the absence of a cup run, as well as the effects of having to replace the injured Mark Bircham and Darren Way. Interestingly there is no mention of the costs incurred in the botched sacking of Russell Slade, either in terms of the compensation finally paid to Slade, nor the legal bill the club would have had to pay. It seems from all of the above that the board took the decision to increase the playing budget in the expectation that taking a risk would bring a reward, either in the shape of another big player sale or an extended run in one of the Cup competitions. In the event, neither expectation came to pass and the board made a bad situation worse in the ham-fisted way they got rid of the man they blamed for their misfortune - Russell Slade.

So where do we go from here? Well, according to the club's statement the club has been successful in reducing costs in this latest financial year to the extent that they are expecting to show a small profit in the next set of accounts. The loss last year has been covered, according to the auditors, by personal loans from 'the shareholders' - in other words the club is now in debt to Norman Hayward, though we don't know by how much, nor the terms of repayment, if any. We know nothing of any consequence really because, as usual, the club tells us the bare minimum they can get away with by law. Transparency? They don't know the meaning of the word.

There's no point in being overly concerned about all this anyway. The sun will keep on shining and the Earth will keep on turning and next season I will buy my season ticket and go along to a stadium with nothing much in the way of facilities and a gradually deteriorating pitch to watch an underfunded side do their best to keep in League One and try to play some decent football on the way. Who knows? We may even have a bit of a cup run. Until and unless there's a change of ownership at the club then that's the way it's going to be for the foreseeable future. It could be worse, we could be Weymouth.

Back to the football and the 3-1 win at relegated Stockport on Saturday has made League One survival now almost certain. Skivo reckons 2 more wins will do it, but he's erring on the side of caution. We're on 48 points, 7 away from the relegation zone with 5 games to go. I think we've probably got enough already, but one more win will surely be ample. It would be nice to get that win sooner rather than later, but with 2 home games next up against 2 of the most in-form sides in the division - Millwall tonight and Southampton on Saturday - then we might have to wait a week or two for some certainty. Second-placed Millwall are the visitors this evening, and it's no surprise that the bookies have made them favourites to win tonight's game. What is surprising is that they're odds-on at 4/5 for the away win. The draw is priced at 5/2 and a Yeovil win an insulting 7/2. The home win has got to be worth a fiver at those odds. Running total: +£18.88p.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

L1: Yeovil 1 Leeds United 2

Apologies for the lack of the usual post match review following the Leeds game, real life sometimes gets in the way of blogging! It's been a few days now since the match, so I don't propose to do my usual thing of awarding merit marks etc etc, I'll content myself with a few general remarks about the game.

We showed Leeds far too much respect. Right from the start and that impromptu minute's silence (organised spontaneously by the players apparently), following on from a negative team selection designed to try and stifle Leeds rather than express our own attacking prowess; our entire approach was one of deference to the big club. Instead of taking the game to Leeds we were content to sit back and fill in, not take too many chances, to keep things tight and narrow, to take the width out of the game. As a game plan it was all very well and it might even have worked had we been able to do the basics, like defend competently from set-pieces, but we failed on that test.

The shame of it all was that when we finally did introduce some width in the shape of Andy Welsh and began to take the game to Leeds in the final quarter of the match we did look a much better side and despite being outplayed for most of the game could easily have got something from it in the end. But we didn't deserve anything. To win you've got to attack and be positive, for too much of the game we were defensive and negative.

Good games: Alex McCarthy - kept the score down to reasonable proportions with some terrific saves. Andy Welsh - added width and pace going forward, good crosses. JP Kalala - tigerish prescence in midfield.

Bad games: Steven Caulker - lost his man twice at set-pieces which led directly to the Leeds goals. Scott Davies - played out of position on the right side of midfield and it showed. The third time I've seen him play now and I still haven't seem do anything positive of note.

Good and bad: Craig Alcock - some cracking last-ditch clearances, but lost his man too often at set-pieces. Terrell Forbes - generally sound defensively, should have scored himself. Nathan Smith - anonymous until Welsh came on, then started getting forward well. Gavin Tomlin - our only (vague) threat in the first half, faded as the game went on. Unlucky not to score with a header cleared off the line. Gavin Williams - peripheral until pushed forward in the second half when he began to show his class. Dean Bowditch - took his goal well, hardly noticed him otherwise. Shaun MacDonald - played out of position on the left for most of the game, and it showed. Much more effective when shifted into centre midfield later on.

I said before the Leeds game that I hoped we would give it a go against one of the best teams in the division and give the tv cameras a real show. We did just that, but only for the last 20 minutes. If only we had shown that same positive attacking intent right from the start! We may not have done any better than we actually did, but at least we wouldn't have died wondering. I've resisted the temptation to criticise Skivo all season right up until now, but on Monday in my humble opinion he got both his tactics and team selection wrong, and then was too slow to change things for the better. Let's hope he learns from those mistakes. Three weeks ago we were 11 points away from the relegation zone and looking comfortable. Now we're 4 points away and on a downward spiral. Make no mistake, a loss this weekend at Stockport could be disastrous. A draw will be disappointing. Let's go for the win, let them worry about what we're going to do, not vice versa. Attack, attack, attack attack attack!

The bookies make the Glovers favourites for the win at 7/5. The draw is priced at 23/10 amd the Stockport win at 19/10. Anything other than an away win is unthinkable, and that's what my fiver is going on. Running total: +£6.88p

Away from the football and the club have announced their season ticket/matchday prices for next season and the good news is that there's to be no increase. In fact there's no change of any kind, so the bad news is there's still a surcharge for those who can't buy their tickets until the day of the match. The club insists it's not a surcharge, the matchday price is in fact the normal price. They say people who buy in advance of the matchday receive a discount on the normal price. I have news for the club: People aren't stupid, if it looks like a pig, smells like a pig and squeals like a pig then it's more than likely a pig. I know plenty of people who can't buy in advance for one reason or another but who refuse to pay the £2 extra on the day, asking why should they be penalised just because they can't commit themselves in advance through no fault of their own? So they and the club miss out. If there's one thing I would change about the club's ticketing policy to make it more equitable for all fans it would be this: Lose the surcharge!

Finally, a thought for former Glover and current Exeter striker Adam Stansfield, who has just been diagnosed with bowel cancer, though the prognosis is apparently good. Get well soon Lisa!

Just read: Amazulu by Walton Golightly. Fascinating semi-fictionalised account of the life and times of Shaka, King of the Zulus in 19th century Africa; from his lowly beginnings as a bullied child to his eventual emergence as the Father of the Zulu Nation and his descent into murderous purges of his own people. Gripping throughout but the ambiguous ending is unsatisfactory - read it and you'll know what I mean, but don't let it put you off the rest of the book.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

A good game to watch on teletext

"God, that was one dull match. The sort it's better to 'watch' via teletext and think 'a useful point towards staying up', than spend 20 quid to actually sit through the 90 minutes of tedium. Two sides completely clueless in their respective attacking thirds of the pitch. Thankfully the away support was on good form. It helped pass the time."

I hope HHH doesn't mind me nicking his comments from the Ciderspace MOTM voting form but they seem to sum up what appears to have been the general consensus of opinion regarding yesterday's 0-0 draw at Southend. Never mind the quality of the football on show, at this stage of the season it's the results that matter, and it was essential that the Glovers didn't lose at Roots Hall yesterday afternoon. In that sense at least then it was job done.

The result leaves the Glovers in 15th position and on 45 points with 7 games left to play, 5 points clear of the relegation zone. I'd hesitate to call tomorrow lunchtime's televised clash with Leeds United a 'must win' game, or even a 'must not lose' match, nevertheless tomorrow's visitors haven't scored in 4 games and have just fallen out of the automatic promotion places for the first time all season - if ever there's a good time to play them then it must be now. Added to that we're on the telly! Let's hope we really go for it tomorrow and show the watching world what we're capable of. Leeds are evens favourites to win, the draw is priced at 5/2 and a Glovers win at 13/5. With odds like that what else can I do except put my fiver on the home win? Nothing. Running total: +£11.88p.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Gotcha (well, got one or two of you)!

I must apologise to anyone who was taken in by yesterday's blog. Yes, it was an April Fool, and no, I've not really converted to the dark side. Most people obviously saw it for what it was straightaway, but if you were fooled then you have my sympathy.

Actually, two or three responses to the mirrored blog on the Ciderspace site gave me pause for thought and perhaps ought to give the club some concern as well; with some respondents echoing in real life my fictitious complaints and saying they too were completely disillusioned with watching League football with all the expense involved when they could go to local non-league clubs to watch a similar product with better or at least comparable facilities and at a much cheaper price. Perhaps that's one explanation as to where the so-called 'missing' fans have gone over the last couple of years?

Back to reality and I was a little disappointed this week to see that Skivo has ruled out contract talks with the current squad until our position in division 3 has been secured for another season. I can't see what difference it makes what division we're in when it comes to offering new contracts to the likes of Dean Bowditch, J-P Kalala, Nathan Smith and Terrell Forbes; surely it's a no-brainer that all four will be retained next season, if we are in a position to do so. The danger in leaving contract talks in abeyance is that other clubs can and will fill the gap - already there are hints from informed sources that Dean Bowditch has been approached by another club keen to take him on next season. One of the criticisms made of Russell Slade was that he was too slow to initiate talks with players coming to the end of their contracts, now we see exactly the same situation being re-enacted, this time under Skivo. One begins to wonder if it is in fact the manager's decision not to begin to secure his squad for next season, or is he acting under instruction from above? Let's hope that divisional survival is secured sooner rather than later so contract talks can begin as soon as possible. I'm sure that all concerned - players, management and fans - would welcome some certainty regarding the make-up of the squad next season rather than the usual last-minute panic.

After a fortnight off it's back to the football at last and two important games coming up over the next 3 days. First up it's relegation-haunted Southend away on Saturday, followed by the visit of promotion-chasing Leeds United to Huish Park on Easter Monday. We all know the score. We mustn't lose against Southend and given Leeds recent form should go into that match with every confidence of getting something out of it. Offer me a couple of draws here and now and I'd take them both. As far as the Southend game is concerned the bookies make the home side 6/5 favourites. The draw is priced at 23/10 and a Glovers win at 9/4. My fiver's going on the draw. Running total: -£4.62p.

Just read: Solar by Ian McEwen, and Glory Boys by Harry Bingham: I really enjoyed McEwen's latest, a climate-change black comedy, believe it or not. As ever with McEwen the writing is immersive and you realise after you've finished the book that you've learnt all sorts of things without realising you were being taught. Clever stuff, but very entertaining. In contrast 'Glory Boys' was a curiously old-fashioned yarn, a tale of two fighter pilots struggling to find their way in post-WW1 USA. It's a bit unfair really to compare the light reading of Glory Boys with the literary heavyweight that is McEwen, but that's the way the cookie crumbles, I read the one after the other so that's how it goes; but really there is no comparison. I got halfway through Glory Boys before losing patience with it, went straight to the last chapter to find out what happened in the end and didn't feel I'd missed anything in between.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

The end of an era

This is a difficult blog to write. I never thought this would happen, but happen it has and I (and you, dear reader, if you continue to read this blog) have to deal with the consequences.

The fact is that over the last few years and for various reasons I’ve gradually fallen out of love with Yeovil Town Football Club. It’s not something that’s happened overnight, it’s been a gradual diminishing of passion over the years. Looking back on it I can see that it started with the sacking of Graham Roberts. As an armchair Spurs fan I was thrilled when a stalwart of White Hart Lane was appointed as Yeovil manager and it hurt, badly, when he was summarily dismissed, and over such a little thing! The worst of it was that he was right all along, they are all arseholes at Stevenage.

Roberts was the first, but other unjustified sackings over the years have similarly badly affected my love for this club. There’s been so many own goals, so many instances of bad practise that it just seems pointless to list them all here now. On the face of it the last decade had been one of unparalleled success for this club, but scratch beneath the veneer of achievement and one finds, well, nothing else really.

The football league, the holy grail of all non-league clubs! Surely, I hear you say, surely you must be happy that after 100-odd years of non-league under-achievement we are now playing at the highest level this club has ever played at? I’m afraid not, no. League football is not all it’s cracked up to be. Teams are all much of a muchness. They’re all super-fit, they’re all tactically aware, they’re all so similar, so boring. Games aren’t normally decided by flashes of skill but by defensive errors, or the referee’s whistle. Going along to Huish Park these days to watch the likes of Hartlepool, Carlisle or Stockport is no different to watching Hednesford, Telford or Bath City a decade ago. We just pay much, much more for the privilege nowadays, and I, for one, can no longer justify that expenditure.

I’m sorry, but that’s it for me. After nearly 40 years following the Glovers I’m opting out. I’ve not fallen out of love with football itself, just become vastly disillusioned with League football in general and Yeovil Town in particular. I still intend to follow the game though and this is where I suspect that anyone reading this who may have found themselves agreeing with what I’ve written above will now part company with me. You see, over the last few months while I’ve been writing this blog I’ve occasionally commented on the trials and tribulations of our old rivals Weymouth. And gradually, over the months, the unthinkable has happened. The more I’ve looked into the Terras affairs, the more sympathetic to their plight I’ve become, and – secretly – the keener an interest I’ve taken in their results and day-to-day business. It all came to a head last week in the run-up to the CVA meeting which could have resulted in the death of the club, when I realised I was spending more time on the Weymouth forum than I was on the Yeovil equivalent.. I knew then that I could no longer go on living a lie. Next season I intend to have a season ticket at the Wessex Stadium and watch Southern League football. I’m going back to our roots.

I hope Glovers fans can forgive me, I suspect they will not. Such is life. From now on Taff Glover is dead, as is Taff’s Gloversblog, though I’ll keep these pages online for posterity. Taff’s Terrasblog will open for business tomorrow, Friday 2nd of April.

Thank you for reading, and for your understanding.

Up the Terras!