Having been able to report so positively about the atmosphere within the GYTFC camp in my first blog, during pre-season, I am really pleased to say that with the season-proper well underway those good vibes are still with us – and getting stronger.
I write this late on Saturday night (11th August) having earlier returned home from the fairly long journey south to London where we played Barkingside this afternoon in the FA Cup. We performed well today and earned a very creditable 1-1 draw. In my opinion, honours-even was just about the right result, although I don’t think our higher league opponents could have complained if we had nicked it at the end. And indeed, I was particularly pleased that it is we who finished the stronger. A solid pre-season has clearly paid dividends in terms of our overall fitness levels. It is also true to say that Barkingside will not be happy to have to travel up here on Tuesday for the replay. Something I hope we can use to our advantage.
This afternoon’s draw and good performance could not have been more different from Tuesday’s league fixture at Fakenham. The result may have been the same (1-1) but it has to be accepted that we were poor throughout that game and undoubtedly ‘stole’ a point with our late equaliser. Nevertheless, I take comfort from the fact that it is often said that it is the sign of a good side that they can play badly and still get a result. We never stopped trying to get something from the game either and that too is important.
It should also be remembered that Tuesday’s draw followed on from a very good opening day win at Long Melford. They have not lost at home since December 4th 2011 and Stoneylands is never an easy place to go. But in truth, we bossed that match from the start and could easily have won more comfortably. Also, without the serious injury to goalkeeper Danny Cable (Ginge), who broke his wrist in the second-half, I think we would have kept a clean sheet. That is not to say that we aren’t all extremely grateful to Johnny Jarvis who came off the bench to take up the goalkeeping duties and did very well. Johnny had to stay there for Tuesday’s game too with Ginge obviously out, Ben Cudden still suffering from a virus that meant he missed the Long Melford game and with Alberto Lopes having suffered a fractured shoulder in the Sailor Brown Tournament at Gorleston a week previously. It’s typical isn’t it – I think I have the (nice) headache of choosing between three top class goalkeepers and second game into the season, I’m down to none! Such is football. And of course Ben Cudden has recovered and was able to take up the number one duties today, so it’s not all bad news. But everyone at the club wishes our two long-term injured goalkeepers well and we offer our hopes for a speedy recovery to both of them.
Overall then, it is certainly true to say that I am fairly happy with our start. To have taken four points from six available in the league and to have earned a draw with a higher level side in the FA Cup is pleasing. To have done all that away from home too, having spent some 13+ hours on the road and with what is still a very young squad is also very gratifying.
Indeed, what pleases me most about our pre-season and our start is that whilst I have had to make necessary changes to the squad once again for this campaign, we have lost almost no-one from last season’s squad to any other clubs – and I know several have been approached. However, I am not surprised because there is a strong spirit amongst the lads, albeit forged in adversity. It is often a willingness to stay together during the hard times which creates that kind of solid bond.
What the nine new signings and the fact that we have held onto virtually all of last season’s squad means is that we now have the strongest Reserve Team squad we have had for quite a while. They are still in pre-season of course but have turned in some very good results, including the Memorial Trophy win at Sheringham and today’s excellent 2-2 draw with Anglian Combination Premier Division side Spixworth, despite being down to 10-men for much of the game. New Manager, Lee Hackleton, is doing a great job – as are all the boys.
In fact, there are some management changes that have taken place this week and I will talk about those later on...
But one player we have lost this season, I am very sorry to say, is Scott Woodcock. However, although Scott made important contributions at important times for us last season and I don’t underestimate that in any way, the truth is he wasn’t really our player for most of the last campaign. Scott spent the majority of the season with Cromer and was part of their Anglian Combination Premier Division title-winning side. For 2012/13, he has decided to move to Kirkley and I must say that whilst I would have very much liked him to be with us, I am just glad to see him playing again at a level that matches his undoubted talent. People should also be aware of Scott’s fondness for Yarmouth Town and its people and that the decision to leave has not been an easy one for him. I know that personally. But I don’t think Scott has really been settled at Yarmouth since he left for the first time following the promotion winning season and came briefly to Gorleston in my time there. I wish him all the very, very best for the coming season with Kirkley.
I am also very sad to say that our physio for many years, Marianne McNally, has left us as well. ‘Mazze’ has equal affection for the club and the people and I know she too is very sad to have departed. But Mazze is the consummate professional and I think feels that, coupled with the stresses of juggling two jobs as well as a homelife, with the club changing so much in recent times it was the right moment for her to move on. I am not certain yet if she is to join Scott at Kirkley but I hope she stays in football as she will be a huge asset to any club she joins.
And whatever happens, I hope both of them will return to see us from time-to-time. There will always be a warm welcome here for two Yarmouth ‘legends’.
Our new physio this season will be young Danny Burlingham. Danny helped out at times last season and is a very competent and valued addition to the club. His expertise continues to develop and he is already proving himself a key member of the team.
Onto those management changes then and I am hoping that ultimately, these changes will basically be a straight swap between two of our senior sides. Ricky Lutchmaya, our u18 Manager, has stepped down and I have moved quickly to replace him with Trevor Bullent, who moves from helping Lee Hackleton with the Reserves to take-up the u18s joint Manager role with Kevin Smith. And the pair made a very good start this week in the team’s first pre-season friendly, putting together an excellent side that enjoyed a solid win over Caister Roma on Thursday evening. I was able to watch the game and was very impressed with the performance. We really do have some cracking youngsters at the club and they are in very safe hands with Trevor and Kev.
Where the swap comes in is that I am hoping that Ricky will move on to work alongside Lee with the Reserves. I know Lee, like me, would be delighted to see that happen and Ricky was in attendance today for the Reserves’ draw with Spixworth. His experience with the young lads coming through would be invaluable too. However, Ricky would like a little time to think about the situation and I respect that.
In terms of other staff changes, I should also like to make mention of a new addition to the GYTFC fold here in Mr Steve Wood. Steve is the club’s new official photographer and one only has to look at the standard of the pictures on the website from the end of last season, during this pre-season and from our opening competitive games to know what a fantastic job he is doing! Steve is a real asset to our club, in many ways.
In fact, it is really pleasing to see more and more people becoming involved with the club, with another new addition to those many helpers with matchday duties being Mr Derek Bird. Our new Secretary Len Beresford & his wife Sandra are also doing a really fabulous job behind the scenes – as is our new Treasurer, Maurice Briggs – and it is important to remember just how vital the contributions of these people are. We wouldn’t have a club without them.
Across other areas of the club, we still have no solid news about our playing budget despite the fact that we are three games into the season. So at the moment, we are managing the situation from game-to-game. But I know that Colin our Chairman and others are striving hard to give me something to work with.
There is also a lot of hard graft going on behind the scenes to develop and improve our set-up as a whole and many of these efforts are already bearing fruit. Not least of which is the Youth Development Programme, which continues to blossom.
We are also receiving a lot of support from those devoted people who turn out to watch us on a regular basis, shown by the size of the crowd for our opening friendly of the season – although that can’t always be reflected in the official attendance figure as not all are ‘paying guests’. But as ever, we have many vocal supporters, not least probably our most famous (& certainly most vocal) supporter in recent years, Mr Rich Davison, who we even roped-in to getting involved with our pre-
season brochure photoshoot. Or rather, his wife Jayne and their little girl, who graciously agreed to pose for the camera.
I never lose sight of the fact that Great Yarmouth Town FC belongs, in reality, to its supporters. Players, Managers and many others will come and go but when you choose to support a football club, you are bound to it for life. Therefore, it is the supporters that I expect to answer to first and foremost and I will always try to act in their best interests.
Right, that’s me. Sorry for the lengthy blog but there was a fair bit to report. In about 6 hours I am off on holiday. I realise that it is not the best time to be ‘disappearing’ but with school age children, I only have a certain window during which I and my family can get away. And I don’t think anyone would have thanked me for going away when I should’ve been getting a squad together for the coming season. The value of all the of the eight new boys – Mitch Forbes, Danny Scriven, Johnny Jarvis, Joe Bryanton, Danny Cable, Alberto Lopes, Damon Wise & Josh Thomas – has already been shown in our opening league fixtures with injuries and unavailability a constant issue for every manager to have to deal with. So having worked to bring these boys onboard, plus the returning Olly McCarthy and Neil Hurren, now seemed like the optimum moment to get away, with the squad now mainly settled and playing.
And anyway, I leave the boys in the very capable hands of my Assistant, Bob Hepburn, who will be helped out by Lee for the next three games. I shall stay in touch by text etc of course but I have full confidence that Bob will carry on the early success we have enjoyed with our unbeaten start to the season (no pressure mate!)
Ok, huge thanks as ever to everyone who supports GYTFC in any and every way and I shall see you all again in a couple of weeks.