Chris Angulo

Southend 0 Yeovil Town 1 – Saturday 30th April 2005

2004/05 was a rollercoaster of a season which went right down to the wire. It turned into a four-way title race between Yeovil, Scunthorpe, Southend and Swansa, and right up until the end, all results were possible. On the last day, any of the top four could have been either Champions or missed out on automatic promotion altogether.

Under Brian Laws, Scunthorpe had proved to be early pace-setters, although Yeovil briefly took over in September with a 2-1 win at Shrewsbury. Swansea led the way for a few weeks in October, following which Scunthorpe took over again, and were top from the end of October to the end of December. Before Christmas, they held a seven point lead over the Glovers, before a dramatic contrast in fortunes for the two clubs saw Yeovil erase that lead with a run of seven consecutive wins, taking over top spot on 3rd January with a 4-2 win at home over Shrewsbury. The Glovers then held top spot for over three months, although they did not have everything their own way, as the run to the FA Cup Fourth Round was possibly proving to be something of a distraction – after the big third and fourth round games, they lost the next league games. The huge 4-3 win over Scunthorpe in February appeared to have settled the title race in Yeovil’s favour, but this also seemed to signal a downturn in form. Goals dried up somewhat, as there followed a period of only two wins in eight including home defeats against Bury and Notts County, and an incredibly poor performance in a 2-0 defeat at Rushden.

Scunthorpe were not faring much better, but it was at this time that Southend became the form team – mid-table in October, the Shrimpers were unbeaten in 17 league and cup games at the time the Glovers were critically losing form. When Yeovil lost consecutive games against Notts County and Rushden in April, it seemed like they might miss out not only on the title but promotion altogether, as Southend took advantage and took the lead at the top of the table.

Fortunately, that defeat at Rushden would prove to be as bad as it got – the following week, Gary Johnson switched to a 4-3-3 formation with Jevons, Davies and Gall as a front three, which worked like a charm as the goals returned and the Glovers stormed to a 5-2 win over Mansfield. As luck would have it, Southend were involved in the LDV Final that day and Yeovil re-gained first place. Defeat at Wembley also seemed to knock the previously unstoppable Shrimpers, as their form stumbled right at the last.

On the last away game of the season, Yeovil faced Southend at Roots Hall. The Glovers really could not afford to lose, as they led the League 2 table with 77 points, ahead of Southend on goal difference, one point ahead of Scunthorpe and three ahead of Swansea in fourth.

After two very attacking performances against Mansfield and Wycombe, Gary Johnson took the rare and sensible decision to play more cautiously in such a huge game. Not losing was probably more important than winning, as a draw would still mean that Southend had not overtaken them and promotion would be in their own hands on the last day. He also faced some injury problems which may have affected his approach to the game – Darren Way pulled out before the game with food poisoning, and although Bartosz Tarachulski was able to start, he only made it 30 minutes as both he and his replacement Marcus Richardson were taken off due to injury before half time.

It was a game mainly of half-chances, as Yeovil came closest with a Davies header that was clawed out by Flahavan, while at the other end Freddie Eastwood cut inside but dragged his shot wide. For the most part Yeovil were content to absorb pressure as at the back, the new signings made in time for the run-in, Efe Sodje and in particular Kevin Amankwaah, were absolutely immense as Southend struggled to get through.

It was as tense an afternoon as I have ever experienced in football, as the losses due to injury put Yeovil on the back foot, but we appeared to be standing up to the home side’s pressure – in front of a sell-out 12,000 crowd including 1600 or so travelling Yeovil fans.

Just as the match ticked over into the last ten minutes and it looked like we might be able to hang on for a much needed point, Steve Collis gathered a cross and hurled it out 40 yards to Jevons on the wing – Jevons passed inside to Davies, then kept on going as Davies took a shot form outside the area, which was deflected but fell right into the onrushing Jevons’ path, who slid home with is left foot. The way Jevons collapsed with the effort when he made it back to the half way line, showed how much the game had taken out of him and how much of a relief it was after all that effort to be ahead on 83 minutes. Southend did have one last chance, as substitute and former Yeovil target Lawrie Dudfield dragged his shot wide.

The final whistle came and brought with it the best possible outcome – a win, a cushion at the top, and a clean sheet, only the third since Christmas. Gary Johnson’s team that season didn’t really do clean sheets, but proved that they could keep it tight at the back when they really needed to.

Going into the last game Yeovil were in pole position but by no means safe – one point ahead of Scunthorpe and three ahead of Southend and Swansea, the title was in their own hands, but if they lost to play-off bound Lincoln they could potentially miss out altogether – it was that close.

As it happened, Yeovil would win 3-0 to secure the title, although it took until half time to break the deadlock. Scunthorpe got the draw they needed to keep them in second, while a 1-0 win at Bury was enough to see Swansea jump up to third and consign Southend to the play-offs. Fortunately for them, they beat Lincoln in the final and even went on to win League One at the first attempt in 2005/06.

Team that day: Steve Collis, Kevin Amankwaah. Colin Miles (sub. Kevin Gall 73), Terry Skiverton, Efe Sodje, Paul Terry, Lee Johnson, Arron Davies, Bartosz Tarachulski (sub. Marcus Richardson, 30 (sub. Andrejs Stolcers 45)), Phil Jevons

Telford United 1 Yeovil Town 2 – Saturday 28th April 2001

Yeovil went into the last away game of the 2000/01 still in with a chance of winning the Conference title, but the odds were against them. Ever since the Glovers lost their 100% home record against Southport in January, Rushden were the team in better form and gradually clawed their way ahead. Yeovil had been five points ahead at Christmas, but by mid-February Rushden had gone top on goal difference, albeit the Glovers had two games in hand.

A devastating last-minute defeat at bottom club Kettering in March was followed by consecutive 0-0 draws as confidence drained from the team, goals dried up and it looked like Rushden might run away with it. However, after those draws Yeovil rallied – a convincing 3-0 win at home to Hayes kept the Glovers within touching distance due to those games in hand, and over Easter the gap narrowed even more when they thumped Leigh 6-1 while Rushden were losing at Hereford.

Even though Yeovil missed the chance to go back to the top of the table when the two teams drew 0-0 at Huish Park, it still wasn’t over. Three second half goals gave the Glovers a narrow 3-2 win away at Leigh meaning that the gap going into the last away game against Telford was still three points, with one game in hand.

It is probably significant that the loss to Southport coincided with Yeovil’s first major injury of the season, as Anthony Tonkin missed eight games with a stress fracture. Prior to this, the Glovers had managed to put out an unchanged XI for more or less every game – Pennock, Piper, Tonkin, Skiverton, White, Way, Smith, Crittenden, Patmore, Belgrave, and Bent / Lindegaard. Although this was a strong XI, there was not a whole lot on a bench which had an average age of 20, the only experienced player there being Roy O’Brien who was usually brought on to shore up the midfield in the final 20 minutes. With Tonkin absent, Yeovil suffered their first league defeats since September and when he returned, Tom White was missing for a few games. Colin Addison did move to bring in some new faces, with Simon Betts signing from his old club Scarborough, and Marcus Jones from Cheltenham. With no other left-sided defenders at the club, Betts was forced to cover at left back and his performances out of position did not endear him to the Yeovil fans. A big miscalculation from the manager was to move Betts over to the right when Tonkin was fit again, displacing regular right back David Piper. This proved to make both Betts and the manager very unpopular as Piper had done nothing wrong and had always been a consistent performer. Piper was dropped for eight games – during which the Glovers won only once – and the fact that when he was finally brought back into the team as a substitute at Kingstonian, within minutes he had put in a perfect cross for a brilliant Warren Patmore diving header, possibly underlined the fans’ point. Rightly or wrongly it appeared that the manager was showing favouritism towards a player who had not yet proved himself, over a well-established fan favourite. Despite being signed for £10,000 in January, Betts was released at the end of the season. To be fair he was not a bad player, he had been Scarborough’s captain, only transfer-listed due to the financial trouble they had got themselves into. Playing out of position in his first few games made him look worse than he was, then being moved to right back in place of Piper was a very unpopular decision with the fans and he became something of a scapegoat during the Glovers’ downturn in form.

In addition to the injuries to Tonkin and White, midfield maestro Ben Smith – who took corners and free kicks and had provided at least ten assists before Christmas – was losing form. By his own later admission he was probably losing some of his self-discipline under the less strict management of Colin Addison, who was more laid back than the sergeant major-like David Webb. At that point in his career Smith probably needed more discipline, and he was eventually dropped. He was replaced by Marcus Jones, who provided no assists and it is fair to say is not well-remembered by Yeovil fans. Ben Smith wasn’t the only one to lose form though – Barrington Belgrave had been electric at the start of the season, but 9 of his 10 goals had come before Christmas and after the new year they dried up. The problem was, there was no-one in reserve to replace him and he was forced to try and play his way back into form.

The biggest kick in the teeth was that top scorer and talisman Warren Patmore was also struggling with an injury, carrying a hamstring strain into the run-in but again, we had no-one else available and could not afford to rest him. He played on, but would miss some games towards the end and only lasted 28 minutes of the big showdown against Rushden, which was his only start of the last seven games.

When it finally came time to play one of the much-discussed games in hand away at Doncaster in April, it was a disaster as a poor performance ended in a 2-0 defeat. To add insult to injury, Belgrave got sent off for an off the ball incident in the dying minutes when the game was already lost, ruling himself out of three vital games at a time when Patmore was also unavailable.

The second of those games was Telford away. With on-loan striker Howard Forinton injured, Patmore injured and Belgrave suspended, the only fit striker at the club was James Bent, brought back in from the cold after the better part of six months sat on the bench. In his first start he got two goals and an assist at home to Leigh, and a goal and assist in the reverse fixture just ten days later. So he had proved himself capable but was running out of partners. In the absence of a genuine target man, for the last couple of games Captain Fantastic Terry Skiverton had pulled on the No. 9 shirt, and did so again against Telford.

The home side came out of the blocks very quickly and created numerous chances particularly on the counter-attack, forcing Pennock to pull off a number of saves. The problem with Skiverton playing up front was that he was sorely missed at the back, and the defence was at sixes and sevens without him. The defence was looking so vulnerable that Colin Addison was forced to re-organise, moving to a 3-5-2 with Skiverton, White and O’Brien as a back three, Piper and Tonkin as wing backs, and Crittenden up front with Bent. This did pay off, as Crittenden set up McIndoe in the area to put the Glovers 1-0 up, slightly against the run of play. The good fortune didn’t last though, as defender Jim Bentley equalised before half time. The news got worse, as last forward standing James Bent was scythed down from behind in a terrible challenge that wasn’t even awarded a free kick, let alone a card. Bent was able to get up and continue, but did not emerge for the second half as a result of that challenge.

In his place came Paul Steele, another defender converted to emergency striker as the number of available forwards decreased to zero, and the manager had to improvise. It worked, as Steele put Yeovil 2-1 up from a McIndoe corner. The Glovers did create several chances to score again, with late substitute Andy Lindegaard coming close on more than one occasion. He probably should have added a third, but the Glovers hung on for a 2-1 win to take them into the last week of the season three points behind with a game in hand, and only two games to go. Interestingly, Lindegaard would himself play the role of emergency striker a couple of years later in Yeovil’s Conference-winning season, scoring six goals. At 18, youth team striker Chris Giles was presumably seen as too young, even though he would go on to score 10 goals the following season under new manager Gary Johnson. In 2000/01, he was not used and his only appearances were in the Somerset Premier Cup.

While it may be easy to say that Colin Addison’s young side bottled it, or threw away a lead at the top of the Conference, a lot went against us and ultimately we did not have the resources to compete with an expensive squad twice the size of ours. This performance against Telford shows the fighting spirit that the team had right up until the end. After the defeat at Kettering and the two draws which followed it, the title did look completely gone and some of the players must have felt the same. But they didn’t give up, they kept fighting and clawed back enough points with late goals to reduce Rushden’s lead from seven points to three with just two games to go.

Rushden had a squad of over 30 with an average age around 27/28, with lots of Football League experience. Yeovil’s squad was mostly comprised of kids, whether through our own youth system or from picking up those who had been released by bigger clubs like Way, Crittenden and Smith. Only two players in the squad at the start of the season were over 25. Rushden had two of the most expensive strikers in non-league and at least four others in reserve, while we were forced to slap a No. 9 shirt on a centre half and were so short of options that we had to do it twice in one game, when the last remaining striker was kicked out of the match.

The Telford game is a significant one to remember because it shows that, whatever the problems, and however much the odds were stacked against us in the second half of the season, the team never gave up. Even though the season ultimately ended in heartbreak they kept fighting and did take it down to the final week.

Team that day: Tony Pennock, David Piper, Anthony Tonkin, Roy O’Brien, Tom White, Darren Way, Marcus Jones (Simon Betts, 80), Nick Crittenden (Andy Lindegaard, 80), Michael McIndoe, Terry Skiverton, James Bent (sub. Paul Steele, 46). Subs not used: Chris Weale, Ben Smith.

 

Yeovil Town 3 Halifax Town 0 – Saturday 21st September 2002

In 2002/03, Yeovil found themselves having to play their first five games at the Avenue Dorchester, as a result of the newly re-laid Huish Park pitch not quite being ready. The season got off to a difficult start, with the Glovers needing an injury-time equaliser on the first day to rescue a point after going 2-0 down at home to new boys Gravesend, but also losing Adam Stansfield for the rest of the season with a broken leg. They then lost their second game 2-1 at Barnet.

Attendances in Dorchester were good – almost 3,000 attended the first match which kicked off late due to the August traffic, and crowds did not drop below 2,000 despite being held 25 miles away. While Yeovil were ultimately unbeaten at the Avenue, it was not the smoothest start to the season – losing Stansfield was a huge blow, and in addition Demba was having some trouble adjusting to the rigours of the English game and the other strikers Alford and Grant were more often than not substituted for fitness reasons. The defence was not quite settled, as the Glovers scored plenty but also conceded plenty, perhaps due to the uncertainty in personnel and formation.

There was also the issue of where to accommodate Gavin Williams – while obviously a talented player, he had been employed mostly as a striker in his formative years at Hereford. Gary Johnson did try this but didn’t seem to favour it, even after the injury to Stansfield. He started 02/03 with the 4-4-2 that he had ended the previous season with, but fitting Williams into a midfield four would be difficult as Johnson, Way, Crittenden and McIndoe were already there. This dilemma was possibly what drove the manager to try the 3-4-1-2 that would serve Yeovil so well for much of the season, with Williams in a free role. The formation change did create a problem for Anthony Tonkin – as a specialist left back, he did not thrive at all on the left of a back three, a position more suited to Colin Pluck. And in a wing back formation, McIndoe would be the obvious occupant on the left. Tonkin was an excellent player, and probably one of the best left backs we’ve had in the modern era – but only as left back.

After the first couple of games as a 4-4-2, Yeovil switched to three at the back with Tonkin where he did not look comfortable, but was the only option as Pluck was absent through injury. When Pluck returned, Gary Johnson’s selection headache would end up getting resolved by the unusual figure of former England midfielder Carlton Palmer. Palmer was manager at Stockport, who seemed to have become aware that a clause in Tonkin’s contract stated that any offer over £50,000 would have to be put directly to the player, and put in an offer for exactly that amount.

When Halifax came to town for the final game at the Avenue, it was actually the first game since Tonkin’s departure from the club. He would not officially leave for another week, but by that point was refusing to report for training or answer the phone on advice of his agent.

Halifax had just been relegated, and been forced to rebuild their team over the summer from a difficult financial position. They put together a decent team under new manager Chris Wilder, who was early in his managerial career at the time but specialised in producing teams who were physical and hard to beat on limited budgets. He would later prove his credentials by taking Sheffield United from the bottom of League One to the Premier League in just three years. He was also in charge of Oxford when, as a Conference team they knocked League One Yeovil out of the FA Cup in 2009.

Yeovil took the lead in the first half, with Crittenden scoring from the spot after a foul on Demba. A minute later, Gavin Williams gave the Glovers a 2-0 lead in spectacular fashion, picking up the ball following a throw, and curling in with his left foot from 25 yards. Leading 2-0 at half time, controversy erupted in the second half – latching onto a through ball from Williams, Demba was clearly upended by keeper Lee Butler for an obvious penalty. With no defenders covering, the referee had no choice but to also send Butler off. The keeper was infuriated, throwing his shirt to the ground in disgust and physically attacking Demba on his way off the pitch, presumably as he thought the player had dived. This signalled multiple players from both sides to engage in a brawl. As he finally left the pitch, Skiverton called something to him that was probably not very complimentary, and another period of fighting broke out. A Halifax player clearly grabbed Skiverton by the throat – an image which appeared on the front page of following day’s Non-League Paper – and should have been sent off but wasn’t. After consulting his assistant, the referee sent off Demba for no clear reason. It is not even evident from the video what the referee could think Demba had done. He just stood there passively while Butler assaulted him. The report said ‘foul and abusive language’, probably because it can’t be disproven by video and is often used when the referee knows he has made a mistake. The fact that Demba had not long arrived from Belgium and his first language is French, suggests that the charge was probably not correct.

Skiverton was then called over and rightly sent off as although he was grabbed by the throat, he also swung some punches in retaliation. What the ref got wrong was not sending off at least one Halifax player. In time the Demba red card would be overturned, but Skiverton was out for three matches. At that time there was a delay between the offence and the suspension to allow time for appeals, so Skiverton was able to play in two more games – Woking at home and Leigh away – scoring in both, taking him to six for the season and making him top scorer at the end of September.

Despite all of the chaos and red cards, the good news was that Yeovil were 2-0 up with a penalty to come. Crittenden hammered home the resultant penalty about ten minutes after it had actually been awarded and with the Glovers 3-0 up, the points were secured. Halifax did fight on (not literally this time) and got themselves a few chances, but could not affect the result.

Going into the game Yeovil were third in the table and the win took them up into second, overtaking Doncaster but behind Chester, who were unbeaten did not even concede a goal away from home until the end of October. After an uneven start, the Glovers were in a good position. Unbeaten at Dorchester in front of decent crowds, the anticipation was building in the town for a return to Huish Park, live on TV against Woking – a return that would see a glorious 4-0 win in front of over 4,000 fans, more than any league game the previous season. Now unbeaten in nine with three clean sheets in a row, a set formation and the goals beginning to flow, there was a sense that Gary Johnson’s team were finding top gear and it would take a lot to stop them.

Despite their financial limitations Halifax would become a good Conference team under Chris Wilder, reaching the play-off final in 2006. They would also provide one of the toughest examinations of Gary Johnson’s men in their championship season. Even though Yeovil were fresh off the back of six consecutive wins and brushing aside Hereford 4-0, the Shaymen took a 2-0 lead and threatened to bully the Glovers right out of the game. Brian Quailey and in particular Simon Parke gave Lockwood, Skiverton and Pluck the most difficult time I saw them have that season, and Yeovil were lucky not to have at least one man sent off. The second half was end to end, with both teams having chances to take the lead and Weale having to make some top class saves, before the part-time team tired in the final quarter and Gall stole the win well into injury time. It was an epic night which for many people, saw the champagne finally be put on ice.

Team that day: Jon Sheffield, Adam Lockwood, Terry Skiverton (sent off 71), Colin Pluck, Darren Way, Lee Johnson, Nick Crittenden, Michael McIndoe, Gavin Williams, Abdoulai Demba (sent off 70), Howard Forinton (sub. Roy O’Brien, 79). Subs not used: Luke Buckingham, Stephen Reed, Andy Lindegaard, Carl Alford

 

 

Yeovil Town 0 Rushden & Diamonds 0 – Saturday 21st April 2001

Although Yeovil were struggling to find form in early 2001, they were still just about in the title race when leaders and favourites Rushden and Diamonds came to town on 21st April with just five games of the season to go. Indeed, had the Glovers won they would have taken the destiny of the title back into their own hands, as a victory would have seen the two teams level on points but with Rushden having played a game more.

There was a chance that the attendance would beat the then-Conference record of 9,432 set by Lincoln in 1988, but only if Rushden sold all of their allocation and the building work was finished in time. Following the successful ‘Erection 2000’ fundraising campaign to extend the home terrace and put a roof over it, construction began in February 2001 in the hope that it would be completed in time for the Rushden game, but it was always going to be tight, in fact during the local news visit the week before, construction seemed to still be in progress!

The construction of the terrace roof created some confusion with the ticket sales and away allocation. Initially, Rushden had been offered around 700 tickets in the Bartlett Stand – deposing a few season ticket holders as it was a bigger section of the stand than would usually be given – with home fans taking the Copse Road terrace. In the event that the roof was finished, the seating was decreased and they were given the terrace as well. In order to guarantee this arrangement Rushden owner Max Griggs personally paid for 1,000 tickets whether they were sold or not in order to secure the additional space. As it was, Rushden returned 800 tickets for what was biggest match in their history so far, bringing around 1600 fans.

It was an incredibly tense and nervous atmosphere, and chances were relatively few. Rushden knew that they could sit back and didn’t really need to attack. Yeovil needed the win in order to bring themselves level, but with them being out of form and Warren Patmore carrying an injury, it was always going to be a long shot. The team wore black armbands and there was a minute’s silence as Yeovil legend Alec Stock had died just a few days before over Easter, and if there was a script then the perennial underdogs Yeovil would have beaten the millionaires of Rushden to secure promotion to honour the memory of the man who masterminded their greatest ever FA Cup win.

Unfortunately football isn’t a fairytale and the underdogs don’t always win, that’s why they’re underdogs. When Patmore limped off with a recurrence of his hamstring strain in the first half, it became increasingly unlikely that Yeovil would be able to get anything out of the game. There were no more than half chances for either side, with Tony Pennock having to make the most difficult save, tipping a header over the bar from Duane Darby. It was an indication that the home side were running out of options when they resorted to putting both Skiverton and O’Brien up front with Belgrave, although with McIndoe taken off, Lindegaard an unused substitute and Ben Smith not even in the squad, the manager could arguably have gone a different way. Instead Yeovil were reduced to lumping balls into the box in the hope that something would fall for them. On another day it might have done, with a looping O’Brien header having to be cleared off the line and a close range Tom White shot blocked but in all honesty these were also really no more than half chances. Darren Way dragged a shot wide and with that the whistle blew and the game ended in a draw. It was still not over, as Yeovil were only three points behind with a game in hand, but they had missed the opportunity to bring their destiny into their own hands, and they would still have to win that second game in hand against Hereford, having already lost the first one at Doncaster.

Colin Addison’s men had done well to take the title race this far, despite their disappointing form since Christmas. They were by no means favourites going into the start of the season, and the highest position they had ever finished in the Conference was 4th, back in 1993. By contrast, due to the huge resources they had at their disposal by non-league standards, Rushden were favourites to go up every season, having blown their chances three times already. It was really ‘no excuses’ this time for manager Brian Talbot.

Yeovil had finally turned full-time towards the end of the previous season, but done it on a budget. Long-serving players who were on high wages or unable to turn full-time were released, and a number of players were promoted from the youths to the first team, such as Andy Lindegaard, Anthony Tonkin and James Bent. It was a risk to have expected to challenge with this kind of strategy, but it almost paid off. Despite manager David Webb walking out on the club without warning after 12 games, the Glovers went top shortly afterwards with a 4-0 win over Dover and maintained their position under new manager Colin Addison from the beginning of October to mid-February. This period included some of the Glovers’ best performances, such as the 5-1 demolition of Colchester in the FA Cup, the 2-1 win away at Rushden and a narrow defeat at Bolton, who were on their way to being promoted to the Premiership.

It was that defeat at Bolton which signalled a loss in form – maybe it was the injury-time defeat which caused a dent in confidence, or maybe it was coincidence as the games started to catch up with Colin Addison’s young squad. Before the Glovers were involved in that FA Cup match, their lead at the top of the Conference was at its biggest – seven points ahead, with two games in hand. Rushden won while Yeovil were at Bolton reducing it to four but with three games in hand. Yeovil’s form absolutely fell off a cliff after that loss, going from 20 league and cup games unbeaten, to winning only one league game in February (2-1 over Boston) and one in March (3-0 over Hayes), as confidence and goals dried up. However they did cling on and were never truly out of it – despite being in very good form themselves, Rushden were never miles ahead, just about dropping points often enough to keep the Glovers interested. It was when Yeovil lost 3-1 at home to Dagenham in February that Rushden took top spot on goal difference, although they had played two games more. This hit the Glovers hard, as they went on a run of six games without a win, going out of the FA Trophy in the process. The low point was surely a devastating 2-1 defeat at relegation-threatened Kettering that had seen the Glovers lose a 1-0 lead to goals in the 85th and 89th minutes and miss a penalty in between. Just when all seemed lost, Rushden dropped points at Northwich while Yeovil won convincingly 3-0 at home to Hayes, in what was the first ever live Conference match shown on Sky. There had been some rumours of Sky wanting to air live Conference matches and it is possible that they used the Hayes game as a dry run with the aim to perhaps show the Rushden clash in April. However, with the absolutely atrocious state of the pitch at that point and building work not guaranteed to have been finished in time, perhaps they got cold feet. As it was, the game was not shown live although Sky did present very reasonable highlights on their Conference round-up the following week.

The Glovers fought on with late goals earning points at Dover, and an epic 4-3 against Kingstonian. Just when hoped seemed to be gone, Rushden went and lost comfortably at Hereford over Easter while the Glovers were spanking Leigh 6-1 despite having to play Skiverton up front in the absence of Patmore. Somehow, despite all the setbacks, we continued to fight on.

Yeovil were always mathematically still in it because of those games in hand, but as we should all know, games in hand do not equal points. And in our case, those games in hand equalled zero points. The first was away at Doncaster, an absolute shambles of a performance which saw Yeovil lose 2-0 and Barrington Belgrave get himself sent off for violent conduct which would see him miss the last three games of the season.

The other game in hand would be played on the last midweek of the season, and was of course against the old rivals Hereford. Despite Hereford having nothing to play for, and an absolutely abysmal record at Huish Park – they had lost every game and not even scored a single goal since their relegation from the League – they saved up their only decent result for the occasion it hurt the most. They won 3-2 with a last-minute goal and with that Yeovil’s title challenge was ended. We did get some measure of revenge, beating them in injury time in 2002 with a goal from Yeovil-born Andy Lindegaard, and then playing them off the pitch on the way to the title in 2003 winning 4-0, but that night in 2001 was a very bitter way to end the season and it took some time to recover from.

Team that day: Tony Pennock, David Piper, Anthony Tonkin, Terry Skiverton, Tom White, Darren Way, Marcus Jones, Nick Crittenden, Michael McIndoe (sub. Simon Betts, 76), Warren Patmore (sub. James Bent, 28) (sub. Roy O’Brien, 86), Barrington Belgrave. Subs not used: Chris Weale, Andy Lindegaard

Alec Stock (2017-2001)

When Alec Stock died in April of 2001, Yeovil Town were about to take on one of the biggest matches in their history up until that point, the Conference title showdown with Rushden and Diamonds. Stock was the man who had brought the Glovers nationwide headlines in 1949 when as player-manager he masterminded the run to the FA Cup 5th Round including a famous win over the ‘Bank of England’ Sunderland team which still stands as one of the greatest shocks of all time. However, this was just the beginning of a long and illustrious managerial career which would see him win numerous honours while managing in the Football League with Leyton Orient, QPR, Luton and Fulham. He finished his career with Bournemouth in 1981 and was still a regular visitor to Yeovil during retirement, being interviewed after the 2-0 FA Cup win over Northampton in 1998.

Stock was known in his time as ‘The First Gentleman of Soccer’. He was a softly spoken and humble man, who treated the players as equals and had little time for board members and directors who who knew less about the game than the playing staff did. However he was also a workaholic with a determination to succeed which brought results. He was a man of principle who walked away from Roma when the executives decided to pick the team, and Luton when a disloyal board of directors attempted to overthrow a chairman who was sick in hospital. He always thought fondly of his time at Yeovil, remarking in his memoir that Bert Smith was “one of the best Chairmen I had, with a deep feeling for the game.”

He had a preference for flair players, and his mantra was “Football is a simple game. The crowd want to have fun, and there is no reason why we should not give it to them.” Newcastle legend Malcolm Macdonald said of him, “He listens, he talks sense, and in the end you do what he says.”

Alec William Alfred Stock was born just outside Bath in 1917. He was a rugby player at school, but also played cricket and football as an amateur. He signed for Charlton in 1936, but did not make a first team appearance for them before signing in for QPR in 1938. His playing career was hampered by injury and the outbreak of World War II, and he made his reputation mostly as a manager.

During the war, Stock signed up as infantry with the Northampton Yeomanry. When this became an armoured division, he was made Captain and was a tank commander and gunner during the brutal fighting in Caen as part of the Battle of Normandy in 1944. He was wounded in an explosion which killed the rest of his crew, and left him missing presumed dead for several days. When he was found, he was sent to convalesce in a nursing home in Wales for three months. His injuries left him partially deaf, and he walked with a limp as a result of shrapnel fragments. He would later say that he could never hear the referee’s whistle from the sidelines as he was unable to hear higher frequencies, including some people’s voices, although he resisted the use of hearing aids. Despite this disability though, he was very fond of a sing-song with players after matches as a way to unwind.

After looking at potential careers away from the game when he left the army in 1946 knowing that he would be unable to play at a high level due to his war wounds, Alec was persuaded by his wife Marjorie to apply for the job of player manager at Southern League Yeovil. He beat out around 60 other applicants and took the role at the age of 29. He remained at Huish for three years including that famous win over Sunderland in 1949. Stock scored the first goal which is the one regularly seen on FA Cup coverage to this day, as Sunderland’s equaliser and Eric Bryant’s winner were obscured by dense fog which threatened to abandon the game. Despite being 1-1 at full time, there was no replay due to fuel shortages in post-war Britain and the game went to extra time. In the dying moments, Sunderland were awarded a free kick just outside the area. Lining everyone up in the wall, Stock told his players “If anyone ducks – you’re fired”. No-one ducked and the Glovers held out for a famous win.

At the end of that season, Stock joined Leyton Orient where he managed from 1949-59, but not quite continuously as he left briefly for unsuccessful spells as assistant manager at Arsenal in 1956 and manager of Roma in 1957. During his tenure, Orient won Division Three South in 1955/56 – it was their first major title, one of only four in their history. He also took them to the FA Cup Sixth Round, twice, and turned down an approach to manage Liverpool.

From Orient he moved across London to Queen’s Park Rangers, where he managed from 1959-68. He is still remembered as one of their greatest ever managers, and was the man to sign Rodney Marsh. They were Third Division (now League One) champions in 1966/67, and during the same season were the first ever third tier club to win the League Cup, coming back from 2-0 down to beat West Brom 3-2. It remains the only cup the club has ever won.

The following season, QPR came second in the old Second Division, and were promoted to the top flight for the first time in their history. They became one of only a handful of teams to secure back to back promotions from the third tier to the top division tier of English football.

Having won the opportunity to manage at the highest level for the first time, Stock’s career at QPR was cut short by ill-health, combined with the ruthlessness of owner Jim Gregory who had taken over during Stock’s tenure. Following the League Cup win of 1967, Alec suffered his first ever asthma attack. He attempted to keep his condition secret from the players and struggled on with the condition through the promotion campaign of 67/68. He was ordered to rest by doctors, which triggered the worst attack yet for the workaholic Stock.

Alec had fully intended to spend the rest of his managerial career at Loftus Road, but the ambitious Gregory had other ideas. He promoted Stock’s assistant to the top job while the manager was still in hospital. With the team struggling in their first campaign in the top flight Stock, unable to keep away from football, had a meeting with Gregory in November 1968 during which he expected to take over first team duties once again as the team clearly needed him. However in a brief meeting he was unceremoniously fired, being told “You are incurable and I want you to go.” Stock’s entire family was devastated as he was denied the opportunity to manage in the top flight that he had earned, with his wife Marjorie telling him “we climbed a mountain only to found rubbish at the top of it.”

Despite his poor treatment at the hands of the chairman, Stock is still well regarded by QPR today, and an ‘Alec Stock Day’ was held at Loftus Road when they played Yeovil in the Championship in March 2014.

Determined to prove himself to his former employers, Alec had to work his way back up with another club, managing Luton from 1968-72. The Hatters were promoted as runners-up of Division Three in 1969/70, and signed a young Malcolm Macdonald who would go on to achieve legend status with Newcastle. Although Stock left in 1972, the team he assembled would go on to be promoted to the First Division in 1974. Once again his time was ended by behind the scenes strife, as Chairman Tony Hunt ran into financial difficulty and the club were forced to sell Macdonald to raise funds. While Hunt himself was ill in hospital, the remaining directors fought it out amongst themselves for control of the club and Stock, disillusioned with the whole affair and finding the only decent man among them to be comedian Eric Morecambe, resigned.

He spent the years 1972-76 at Fulham, which were all in Division Two – the first League club with whom he was not promoted. During this time, he signed former World Cup-winning captain Bobby Moore and took the club to their only FA Cup final to date in 1975, which they lost 2-0 to West Ham. Stock noted in his memoir that he felt at the time, at the age of 58 the FA Cup Final with Fulham would be his last great achievement. He returned to QPR as a director in 1977, serving briefly as caretaker manager in 1978. He became manager of Bournemouth in 1979, finally retiring from management in 1981, remaining at Dean Court as a director.

Looking back on the man’s career, there can not be any doubt that he enhanced the reputation of every club he managed, winning promotions with Orient, QPR and Luton, and bringing FA Cup success to Yeovil, Orient and Fulham. Had three-up / three-down been in place, his clubs would have been promoted nine times. He took two clubs to the verge of the top flight, but due to circumstance was unable to manage there himself.

Stock definitely left his mark on the game, and is fondly remembered by every club he managed. He has also left his mark on popular culture, as the Fast Show character Ron Manager, who would talk wistfully about ‘small boys in the park, jumpers for goalposts’ was confirmed by creator Paul Whitehouse to indeed have been based on his memories of interviews with Alec Stock. He would do impressions of him with co-creator Charlie Higson, while they were still working as plasterers and long before they had ever worked in television.

Marvellous, isn’t it?

 

Yeovil Town 4 Burton Albion 0 – Saturday 6th April 2002

In 2002, the Glovers reached the FA Trophy semi-final for the first time in 30 years, after having two very bad experiences in the early 70’s and then a huge expanse of nothing. For a club who were for a long time one of the biggest in non-league, we had mostly under-performed in the Trophy.

This was a massive match for Yeovil Town, as it brought us within touching distance of winning our first ever silverware in a national competition. The gates were open at 2pm and fans were encouraged to arrive early to build the atmosphere, with local DJs on hand to get everyone going. It was one of the biggest in my lifetime up to that point, aside from perhaps the top of the table clashes with Enfield in 1997 and Rushden in 2001. The atmosphere against Rushden almost exactly a year earlier was much more tense, as even though we could have gone level on points with a game in hand by winning, Rushden still had the upper hand. They had a huge squad where we did not, and when Warren Patmore limped off injured after 20 minutes, that felt like the end of our challenge. By contrast, there were some nerves in 2002 from those who remembered those 70’s games, but apart from that there was a party atmosphere to the whole day. After a very difficult year with changes in manager, players and an atrocious pitch, it finally started to feel like the team was coming together and a promotion challenge could really be on the cards in 02/03.

Nigel Clough’s Burton were running away with the Northern Premier League, but then we had also won the Isthmian with 101 points and experienced the difference in quality between the feeder leagues and the Conference. In the end, pretty much everything went our way. Any nerves were settled early on when Kim Grant flicked in a Lee Johnson free kick after only four minutes. After a couple of solid penalty appeals were turned down for fouls on Stansfield, a slightly less clear cut one was given for a handball after 37 minutes. Way’s penalty was saved, but the referee ordered a re-take for an infringement and Crittenden scored to make it 2-0. With McIndoe adding an excellent third just before half time, Yeovil cruised to victory. The second half was quieter, with Burton shell-shocked and struggling to really create any chances. Although 3-0 was comfortable, the tie was certainly not over, especially if they could grab a consolation and only be chasing 2-0 in the second leg. A fourth would really bury the Brewers which was duly provided when super-sub and local lad Chris Giles bundled home in the 86th minute to surely kill off the tie.

The FA Trophy was introduced in 1969/70, as a way for the country’s non-league clubs to compete for national silverware before there was such a thing as the Conference. Until 1979, the top tier of non-league comprised the Northern Premier, Southern and Isthmian Leagues, and between them they strived to get a member ‘elected’ to the Football League, but only if the existing League clubs elected to evict one of their own members. This was not a common occurrence, especially when those non-league clubs going for election would often split the vote, keeping the old boys’ club of the Football League in tact – Hartlepool were re-elected an incredible 14 times. This closed shop led to the creation of the Conference (formerly Alliance Premier League), to effectively nominate one team every year for election, although it would still be many more years before automatic promotion of even one team happened on a regular basis. Only six clubs were elected between 1958 (creation of the Fourth Division) and automatic promotion in 1987. And at least one of them never won anything at all, but we won’t mention them…

In all fairness Yeovil had a fantastic season in 1970/71. Under player-manager Mike Hughes, the Glovers won the Southern League by two points and in the Third Round of the FA Cup entertained an Arsenal team on their way to winning the double. Yeovil’s run-in involved playing on the 10th, 12th and 13th of April – goalkeeper Tony Clark played 67 times that season. The Glovers were in good form going into the semi-final of the Trophy, and Telford were seen as the weakest team left in the competition. Yeovil had already beaten the Bucks home and away that season, although to be fair they were also beaten finalists the year before. There were some complaints that the neutral venue of West Bromwich Albion’s Hawthornes, being so close to Telford, gave the Shropshire side an unfair advantage, although Yeovil fans did number close to half of the 9,111 attendance. Unfortunately Telford scored early, and even though Bob Moffat equalised, the Bucks re-took the lead before half-time and scored a third in the second half. Many were mystified as to how Yeovil had not really turned up on the big occasion, but it had still been a very good season by any measure.

Sadly, 1971-72 was not so great, despite the club retaining the services of the manager and most of the players. Although Yeovil were not able to reproduce their league form, they did get to the semi-final again, beating league leaders Chelmsford City on the way. This time, the opponents were Northern Premier League leaders Stafford Rangers, with the tie being played at Oxford United’s Manor Ground, with an estimated 3,000 travelling Yeovil fans in a crowd of 6,566. Unfortunately it was to be defeat again, this time even more comprehensively. Once again the Yeovil team were unable to perform on the big occasion, and were 2-0 down inside 15 minutes and 3-0 down at half time, with Stafford adding a fourth immediately after the break. Yeovil finished 7th in the Southern League, and to add insult to injury Hereford were elected to the League on the basis of one FA Cup result, despite not winning anything that or indeed any other season.

Despite the disappointment of two semi-final defeats and two bafflingly poor performances, Yeovil had a very good team around that time, winning the Southern League in 1971 and finishing 2nd in 69/70, 72/73 and 75/76. Many of the club’s highest post-war appearance makers were involved in one or both of those seasons, including Len Harris, Alan Herrity, Ken Thompson, John Clancy, Terry Cotton, Paul Smith, Tony Clark and Stuart Housley, all of whom are in the top 12 of post-war Yeovil Town appearances. The only player of a relatively modern era to make the Top 10 is Terry Skiverton with 382. He only stopped playing when he became manager in 2009 at the age of 33 – had he carried on, he probably could have made it about as far as Terry Cotton in 6th with 415, as he was still playing regularly at the time he took over as manager. Record appearance maker Len Harris was part of the squad but did not start in either semi-final. He played 691 times for the Glovers, a post-war record that will probably never beaten. He left at the end of the 1971/72 season, as did Mike Hughes, to go and manage at Torquay.

In the 30 years since their last appearance against Stafford Rangers, the Glovers only even reached the Quarter Final once, losing to Macclesfield in 1992. After those two semi-finals, there followed four successive first-round exits. In the 29 competitions between semi-final appearances, Yeovil were knocked out in the first round or earlier (qualifying rounds) 15 times. The Glovers were knocked out in first round replays three years in row in the 90’s – Bath in 1996 (ouch), Hayes after a second replay in 1997, and Yeading in 1998. Yeading is just up the road from Hayes, in fact the two clubs merged to become Hayes & Yeading in 2007. Yeovil had a diabolical record in cups against Hayes, being knocked out of four cups by them between 1996 and 2001.

At the time of the 2002 semi, Burton were in the process of running away with the Northern Premier League and would face Yeovil again in the Conference the following season. They had also knocked the Glovers out of the same competition in the 5th Round the previous year. Although the Brewers were not hugely impressive on the day, Yeovil were on a very poor run of form as they had lost top spot in the Conference to Rushden a few days before, and were in the middle of a run of six games without a win as it was becoming clear that their promotion hopes were slipping away. They did regain some fighting spirit at the end of the season, but February and March were definitely the lowest point of that season. Burton won 2-1, with an injury-time Andy Lindegaard goal being no more than a consolation.

Fast forward one year, and the situation was very different. Following the departure of manager Colin Addison as well as top players such as Warren Patmore, Tony Pennock and Ben Smith, it looked like all the good work had been undone. When Gary Johnson came in, it took time to turn the ship around, as we lost our first game at home to Northwich and found ourselves in mid-table at the end of October. The new gaffer had a plan though, and although he had to plug the obvious gaps with players he already knew, he also took his time to make the right signings, bringing in Adam Lockwood, Adam Stansfield and Kim Grant during the season. It took the team some time to bed into Johnson’s expectations, not helped by a succession of injuries in defence and the mire that was the Huish Park pitch. There were some positive signs though, as a 1-0 win at Margate in November signalled the beginning of a run of 20 league and cup matches undefeated which ran until the beginning of March. It was not perfect, but it was a sign that Gary Johnson had a vision – the team generally kept the ball down and scored a lot of goals, often deploying an extra man behind the strikers as an additional attacking threat.

The line-up of the first Burton match was what was probably Johnson’s first choice that season – Weale, Lockwood, Tonkin, Skiverton, Pluck, Way, Johnson, Crittenden, McIndoe, Grant, Stansfield. Interestingly, this game in April was the first time this XI had actually all started at the same time. Stansfield, Lockwood and Grant all arrived mid-season. By the time Stansfield arrived, both Skiverton and Way were long-term absentees. When Skiverton returned in February, Pluck was injured; Lockwood and Grant also missed a few games, and McIndoe missed much of March due to being sent off against Hereford. The semi-final was Darren Way’s first game back in a run that would keep him in the team until the end of the season, and Pluck, Lockwood and Grant had also overcome their injury niggles. You could argue that Carl Alford was first choice over Grant, but that would not change the fact that absences in the rest of the team meant that Gary Johnson’s first choice XI was not all available at the same time until April. Although Alford scored 13 goals in the season, he also seemed to miss as many chances as he created, hitting the woodwork more times than I can remember any player doing. When fit, Grant formed a very productive relationship with Adam Stansfield – Stanno’s hot streak of eight goals in eight games, also grabbing five assists, came with Grant alongside him. Running in behind defences, Stansfield needed someone to create chances for him, whereas Alford would tend more to take those chances for himself. At the time of the first Burton game, Alford was still serving his suspension after getting sent off in the previous round against Northwich. Alford did play in the second leg, as Grant had to withdraw with a hamstring strain.

Despite taking a 4-0 lead into the second leg, on the Sunday morning after the game Yeovil fans were queuing from 8am to grab the last remaining tickets for the party to come at Eton Park, even though the game was to be shown live on Sky. The Glovers lost 2-1, with Carl Alford’s goal well and truly ending any fightback, but Yeovil actually played very well on a difficult bobbly surface, they created a lot of chances which probably would have been buried a bit more clinically had the tie still been alive.

Despite losing on the day, the final whistle triggered mass partying on the away terrace and the celebrations which went on for a very long time. Finally, after 30 years of disappointment and the heartbreak of 2001 which many of the players on the pitch had also gone through, we were just one game away from winning a major national competition for the first time in our history.

It might be easy to forget with everything that has come since – winning the Conference, winning League Two, two Wembley finals and Championship football, that the FA Trophy was the one that came first, and at the time we partied like we had never done before because we had no idea the amount of success that was going to come later.

 

Team that day: Chris Weale, Adam Lockwood, Anthony Tonkin, Terry Skiverton, Colin Pluck, Darren Way, Lee Johnson, Nick Crittenden, Michael McIndoe, Kim Grant (sub. Chris Giles, 79), Adam Stansfield. Subs not used: Jon Sheffield, Tom White, Roy O’Brien, Olivier Brassart

 

Walsall 0 Yeovil Town 2 – Tuesday 21st March 2006

The second half of the 2005/06 season proved to be very tough, as Yeovil fought to avoid relegation in their first season at League One level after the loss of several key players during the transfer window, and others about to run out of contract in the summer.

The Glovers had appeared to turn a corner with an excellent 3-0 win at Chesterfield courtesy of a hat-trick from Arron Davies, being played up front as opposed to his usual wide position. However, a run of one win in ten games culminating in a very disappointing 1-0 defeat at relegation-threatened Bournemouth had seen Steve Thompson’s men drop down to 20th – from 10th in the middle of January – and relegation was looking like a distinct possibility.

On Tuesday 21st March came a vital game in hand, away at Walsall who were 19th, one place above Yeovil. Thommo opted for a 3-5-2 formation, with Lockwood, Guyett and Skiverton at the back, Amankwaah and Lindegaard as wingbacks and Nathan Jones on the bench. In midfield was Paul Terry in a holding role and Cohen just in front of him along with the on-loan Marc Wilson. Up front were Matt Harrold and Arron Davies who were, in the absence of Jevons our only realistic options although they did form a decent big man / little man partnership. Interestingly Wilson, on loan from Portsmouth, would only make one start for the Glovers, with the more attack-minded Craig Rocastle being preferred in the final run of games. Wilson joined Stoke from Portsmouth in 2010 and played six years in the Premier League.

In the Walsall side that day was future Yeovil loanee Kevin James, and their substitute goalkeeper would also go on to play for the Glovers, one Rene Gilmartin.

The game got off to a very bad start as in the early stages Amankwaah was scythed down by Walsall’s teenage winger Ishmel Demontagnac, had to be substituted shortly after and would miss the remainder of the season. He had been one of the stars at League One level for Yeovil, scoring their first goal at that level against Blackpool.

However, Yeovil took control and scored with an excellent team goal on 24 minutes, some superb work from Andy Lindegaard to get inside the area teed up Matt Harrold to score his 7th of the season. It was 2-0 not long after, as a mistake from defender Ian Roper let a Marc Wilson header bounce over his head and into the path of Arron Davies.

From this point the home fans in the 4,464 crowd really began to turn on the Walsall players and every single mistake, over-hit pass or poor finish was booed furiously by the Saddlers fans. They did create a couple of chances in the first half which were wasted, but the second half was all Yeovil and they could have scored several more, including capitalising on some catastrophic mistakes from the home side, in particular keeper Andy Oakes who almost let Davies in several times.

With the Glovers continuing to threaten, a miserable night got even worse for the Saddlers as Demontagnac picked up his second yellow for another foul on Harrold and was dismissed on 89 minutes. At the final whistle, the home side were booed off the pitch while Yeovil celebrated with the 200 or so travelling fans. Coming into the business end of the season, the two teams were heading in opposite directions – Yeovil were struggling with the loss of key players and significant injuries, especially in defence; the 1-0 defeat at Port Vale had seen them without Skiverton, Miles and Guyett in addition to the loss of Sodje in January. Despite this they were beginning to find some form and seemed to be showing the confidence since Chesterfield that they could stay up, and were playing well even when not winning. After the Walsall win, a 2-2 draw against Tranmere, a valiant 2-1 defeat at Bristol City and a comfortable 3-0 at home to Doncaster would push them closer to safety. Following two narrow defeats over Easter, the Glovers finished the season on a high with a thrilling 4-3 home win over Gillingham, a 2-1 win at play-off bound Huddersfield and a creditable draw against promoted Colchester on the last day. After a real rollercoaster of a season which had seen the departure of their long-term successful manager as well as two of the players who had been most key to their success since 2001/02 in Darren Way and Lee Johnson, Yeovil finally managed to pull themselves over the line and finish in a relatively comfortable-looking 15th on 56 points. Walsall went in the opposite direction, finishing bottom, five points adrift of safety.

At the end of the season, several more players were released or left at the end of their contracts, including Chris Weale, Phil Jevons, Colin Miles, Adam Lockwood, Kevin Amankwaah, Kevin Gall, Stephen Collis. Steve Thompson also stepped down, as Russell Slade was eventually appointed the new manager and Thommo reverted to being assistant once more.

Team that day: Stephen Collis, Adam Lockwood, Terry Skiverton, Scott Guyett, Kevin Amankwaah (sub. Nathan Jones 19), Andy Lindegaard, Paul Terry, Chris Cohen, Marc Wilson, Matt Harrold, Arron Davies (sub. Kevin Gall 90). Subs not used: Michael Jordan, Danny Webb, Phil Jevons.

Southend United 0 Yeovil Town 2 – Saturday 24th April 2004

After a good run up to Christmas which had seen Yeovil push up to 3rd in the Third Division table, the Glovers stuttered into a poor run of form which saw their promotion chase fade in the New Year, following departure in the FA Cup at the hands of Liverpool. Gary Johnson’s men found themselves a bit short up front, with previous season’s top scorer Kirk Jackson struggling at League level and Kevin Gall’s ten goals all coming before January. Jake Edwards performed okay, scoring 10 goals in 20 starts, and he was an intelligent player but perhaps not the dominant force the manager was looking for. After Christmas, Johnson started to look for alternatives in the striking department. He brought in Andy Bishop on loan from Walsall, who scored two goals and two assists in four games, including a vital winner in a 1-0 home win over promotion-chasing Oxford, but was sent back after a disappointing performance at Huddersfield, when to be fair the entire team performed poorly. He would be released by Walsall at the end of the season and go on to have very successful spells at York and Bury proving himself a very capable striker, scoring over 20 goals for three seasons in a row. In also came Lee Matthews from Bristol City, a giant striker who returned one assist from four games.

After Matthews returned to Bristol City, in came Portuguese striker Dani Rodrigues, who was a free agent signed on a short term contract after leaving Greek club Ionikos.

Yeovil were just scraping enough wins to stay in touch with the playoffs, beating Cambridge 4-1 and Bristol Rovers 4-0, but they continued to slide down the table with five games without a win, landing in 9th after a poor Easter return of only one point. Results around this time showed how Yeovil were just falling short – going 1-0 up against Mansfield and 2-0 up against Torquay, both promotion-chasing sides, only to draw both games. Easter saw two points dropped at home in a 0-0 draw against Cheltenham, followed by an end to end game at Boston’s York Street. 1-0 up in the first few minutes, at 2-2 Yeovil were given a penalty which Gavin Williams converted, only for it to be ordered re-taken. The re-take was saved, and with the scores level going into injury time Boston’s Lee Thompson found himself with the entire Yeovil half of the pitch to himself, although admittedly from a position about three miles offside, it does beg the question of why, in the 90th minute away from home with the scores at 2-2, Yeovil did not have a single player defending in their own half.

With the Glovers down to 9th, the following week they entertained Bury with new boy Rodrigues named as substitute. With the visitors leading 1-0, Rodrigues came off the bench in the second half to equalise with one of the most spectacular goals ever seen at Huish Park, an overhead kick from inside the area. He followed it up with a less spectacular second, as Yeovil ran out 2-1 winners to turn around their rotten recent form.

The Bury win was followed up with a vital match at York the following Tuesday, a game in hand as the originally scheduled match had been rained off at late notice. York had started the season like a train but by the end were struggling badly, and would eventually be relegated despite topping the table early in the season. Goals from Lindegaard and Terry gave Yeovil the win, taking them back up to 7th and suddenly the playoffs were back on!

Although Southend were not having a great season and had been comfortably despatched 4-0 in November with a masterclass from Lee Johnson, they had improved and pulled themselves up to mid-table with a run of only three defeats in 19 games. Following the sacking of Steve Wignall, former player Steve Tilson not only steered the Shrimpers clear of relegation in 03/04, but led them to two consecutive promotions in the following two seasons, so on paper it did look like a very hard game. However, two first half goals from Rodrigues were to secure the win and Yeovil remained in 7th. Around 700 Yeovil fans made the trip to the Essex seaside, for a sunny day out that would be echoed exactly a year later for a much more critical game as the two went head to head for the League Two title.

Unfortunately the following week, defeat at home to promotion-bound Hull City in front of a full house pushed the Glovers back down to 8th, and Hugo Rodrigues’ only goal for the club was not enough.

This left Yeovil going into the final game of the season with only an outside chance of promotion – they needed to better the result of Northampton who were away at Mansfield, not an easy match by any means. Yeovil did their part, going 2-0 up in the second half with goals from substitutes Stansfield and Edwards, but again they threw it away to let Lincoln back in at 2-2. Gavin Williams pulled a long range free kick out of his back pocket in the last minute but it wasn’t enough as Northampton won, a result enough to see them into the playoffs, where they would play Mansfield again.

Despite the disappointment of missing out on the last day though, that couldn’t detract from what had been by any measure a very successful first season, showing that the majority of Yeovil’s Conference-winning squad were good enough to challenge in League Two. Only the addition of more potency up front was really needed to push for promotion again, and the third major trophy in four years.

Team that day: Steve Collis, Andy Lindegaard, Colin Pluck, Adam Lockwood, Hugo Rodrigues, Darren Way (sub. Simon Weatherstone, 67), Lee Johnson, Paul Terry, Gavin Williams, Jake Edwards (sub. Nick Crittenden, 87), Dani Rodrigues (sub. Adam Stansfield, 81). Unused subs: Ryan Northmore, Nathan Talbott.

 

Northwich Victoria 0 Yeovil Town 2 – Saturday 16th March 2002

The FA Trophy Quarter Final in 2002 was a hugely significant match for Yeovil Town. Despite our pedigree as a non-league team and the record-breaking number of wins against Football League teams in the FA Cup, Yeovil had not reached the semi-finals of the FA Trophy since back to back appearances in 1971 and 72. They had only reached the Quarter Final once since, losing at home to Macclesfield in 1992.

My first experience watching Yeovil in the FA Trophy was a dismal 89th minute 1-0 defeat at Isthmian League Yeading in 1998. The 286 people present on that West London trading estate is almost certainly the lowest crowd to ever watch Yeovil in a Trophy match. Following that was another last minute defeat at eventual winners Kingstonian in 1999, and a pretty spineless home defeat to the same team a year later – 1-0 again, but not in the last minute this time. Kingstonian would go on to win the final at Wembley for the second year in a row, beating Yeovil on the way both times. In 1998/99, we had set a Conference record of only two away defeats in a season, matched by Gary Johnson’s team in 2001/02. The Glovers had actually not lost away all season until losing their unbeaten record at Barrow the week before the Trophy tie.

In 2000/01, the FA Trophy games came after Christmas when the Glovers were really struggling for form after a 100% home run had seen us clear at the top of the Conference. A very narrow 2-1 win after going a goal down saw us squeak past minnows Bath, followed by a 4-2 win at Emley despite having Tony Pennock sent off. The 5th round tie was away at Northern Premier League Burton, putting in what was one of the worst performances I saw that season, deservedly going 2-0 down before a 90th minute Andy Lindegaard goal which was not much of a consolation. The Burton match came in the middle of a six match winless run which saw Rushden go top of the Conference and title hopes begin to fade away, it was a very dark time.

Cut to a year later, and despite all the upheaval in between, things were looking much brighter – after a mixed start, Gary Johnson’s team were coming together and were up to 2nd in the Conference after an unbeaten run of 18 league and cup matches. Star of the show was obviously Adam Stansfield, whose scoring prowess gave the team a huge confidence boost having scored 11 goals in 11 games and five goals already in the Trophy, scoring in every round.

After casting aside local side Tiverton, strong Conference opponents in Doncaster and previous holders Canvey Island, the Glovers were drawn away at Northwich Victoria. Always a difficult place to go, Northwich were a founder member of the Conference in 1979, then known as the Alliance Premier League, and were one of only three teams who had been ever present, the other two being Telford and Kettering. Northwich’s home, Drill Field, is thought to have been the oldest ground in the world to be in continuous use, having hosted football since 1875. 2001/02 would actually be the last year that Northwich played at Drill Field – at the end of the 2002 season, they ground-shared with rivals Witton Albion, while their new stadium was being built. They moved to the new Victoria Stadium in 2005, which was also home for a time to Manchester United’s reserves. The new stadium was only a few hundred metres from Witton’s ground. In 2012, the club were evicted from the stadium after it was sold to a neighbouring chemical company, and were forced to share at Stafford Rangers some 40 miles away. This was also during a time of financial problems and several relegations which saw a breakaway club, 1874 Northwich, formed by supporters. Northwich Victoria still exist, and are back to sharing with Witton Albion, but currently lie below 1974 Northwich in the non-league pyramid.

Drill Field had a traditional non-league style grandstand on one side and the relatively new covered Dane Bank terrace opposite, with both ends open. The Dane Bank offered a superb view, and housed around 800 or so travelling Yeovil fans on the day. The Dane Bank would follow the Vics to their new Victoria Stadium in 2005, and when that was demolished in 2012, was re-purposed and transported to Broadhusrt Park, the home of FC United of Manchester.

Yeovil went into the game with a back three of White, Skiverton and Pluck, with Anthony Tonkin at left wing back in place of the suspended Michael McIndoe who had been sent off against Hereford. Replacing the injured Darren Way was a rare outing in midfield for Roy O’Brien, who was also joined by Frenchman Olivier Brassart alongside the usual Lee Johnson. Carl Alford started up front with the on-fire Adam Stansfield. The Vics boasted a similar striker in Gregg Blundell, who had scored a spectacular goal in the opening-day 3-2 win at Huish Park in Gary Johnson’s first game, and got himself sent off for over-celebrating into the bargain. The reverse fixture had gone Yeovil’s way, with the Glovers winning 3-1 at Drill Field in November, with Adam Stansfield getting his first goal for the club.

At this point in the season, Yeovil were scoring a lot of goals, but conceding a lot as well. They had not kept a single clean sheet at home in the league so far. However they had won nine and drawn three of their 12 games since Christmas, and were unbeaten in 18 games, scoring 34 and conceding 16. However this game was surprisingly comfortable as the Glovers absolutely dominated the first half, going close several times and hitting the woodwork before Adam Stansfield converted a Tonkin cross to make it 1-0 on 35 minutes. Right on half time, a Lee Johnson free kick beat everyone and was bundled home by Carl Alford from close range. 2-0 at half time, and Yeovil were in command.

At half time, Stansfield was replaced by Chris Giles as he had taken a knock. The second half was much more controlled, as the Glovers dictated the pace and Roy O’Brien in particular was absolutely superb, breaking up opposition play. Vics manager Jimmy Quinn brought himself on with about 20 minutes to go, but his plans for a comeback were scuppered just minutes later. Vics midfielder Val Owen clattered Carl Alford on the touchline, right in front of the dugouts. Alford appeared to retaliate and both players were sent off as there is reportedly fighting in the tunnel as the players depart. This took any remaining sting out of the game, as Yeovil were able to play out time. Giles struggled to lead the line on his own, but Gary Johnson brought on Lockwood to play five at the back and there was nowhere for Northwich to go. It was a very significant game that Yeovil were completely up for, and although it didn’t take the shine off the day, Northwich barely turned up – much like we had against Kingstonian in 2000 and Burton in 2001! The Glovers were in top form, had a settled side, and steamed in to the FA Trophy Semi-Final to face Nigel Clough’s Burton Albion.

Team that day: Chris Weale, Tom White, Terry Skiverton, Colin Pluck, Anthony Tonkin, Nick Crittenden, Roy O’Brien (sub. Adam Lockwood, 75), Lee Johnson, Olivier Brassart (sub Andy Lindegaard, 77), Carl Alford (sent off, 79), Adam Stansfield (sub. Chris Giles, 46). Subs not used: Jon Sheffield, Darren Way

Yeovil Town 4 Bristol Rovers 0 – Saturday 13th March 2004

When Yeovil first entered the Football League, there always seemed to be a much more tasty atmosphere to games against Bristol Rovers than Bristol City, never mind Torquay or Swindon or any of the other relatively ‘local’ games we played. Maybe it was because we were seen as upstarts, for many years the little non-league club down the road that they could pat on the head and patronise, but suddenly in 2003 we were promoted and started to get ideas a bit above our station.

Yeovil’s elevation to the Football League came at a very low time for Bristol Rovers, often the poorer cousins of the Bristol clubs. In what is now the Championship as recently as 1993, they spent a few seasons in the third tier before being relegated again to the basement division in 2001. League performances continued to worsen, as they finished 23rd in 2002 only above relegated Halifax Town, and in 2003 escaped by the skin of their teeth, finishing three points above relegation thanks to a run of ten points from their last four games. They were a long way from the club who had been home to so many great strikers down the years, such as Jason Roberts, Barry Hayles and our very own Marcus Stewart. They’ve been a somewhat nomadic club in recent times, leaving Eastville in 1986 to share Twerton Park with Bath for a number of years. They returned to Bristol in 1996 to share the Memorial Stadium with Bristol Rugby Club, which led to the pitch tending to not be in the best of condition when we played them. The rugby club left to share with City at Ashton Gate in 2014, and since then frequent rumours of development or possible relocation to a new stadium have not materialised.

The very old school Ray Graydon had come in to manage in 2002, but was not well liked for his negative brand of football and he was eventually sacked in January 2004, not long after Yeovil won the first ever league meeting between the two sides at the Mem in December. The match that was perhaps not of the highest quality was settled by a moment of brilliance from Nick Crittenden. That wasn’t the first competitive match between the two clubs though, as they had met in the Football League Trophy (at that time sponsored by LDV) in October 2001, during the brief experimentation of inviting Conference clubs to take part. Despite being in the early days of Gary Johnson’s management Yeovil gave the Gas a pretty good game, taking the lead through McIndoe in the first half. Rovers equalised with a penalty conceded by Chris Weale in the second half, before the game went to extra time and penalties. The Glovers did take a surprisingly good set of penalties from Stansfield, Lockwood, Giles (in off the post) and Crittenden, before McIndoe blasted the last one over the bar and Yeovil were out. But it was an entertaining game which gave a good idea of what Yeovil might be up against should they get promoted, at a time when they were very much a work in progress – the next two games were dismal defeats at home to Chester and away at Southport, probably the low point of the season.

By March 2004, Phil Bater was in caretaker charge. Despite being in relative mid-table and having sacked Graydon, Rovers were in terrible form, with only one win in the last ten. Yeovil had been in patchy form since Christmas, with three defeats out of the last four, and were struggling a bit to find the right combination up front to hurt better League Two defences, but on the day were far too strong for the visitors and it was a fairly comfortable win in front of a full house. In a potentially tense atmosphere, nerves were settled early on as a Terry Skiverton shot from a quickly-taken free kick cannoned back off the bar, with the rebound stabbed home by Adam Lockwood. Rovers lost their composure and realistically the game was probably over when midfielder Graham Hyde managed to get himself booked twice in the same incident, first committing a foul on El Kholti, then shoving Lee Johnson, arguing with the ref about the decision and giving a lot of abusive gestures as he was dragged off the pitch, mostly seemingly aimed at Johnson.

Just before half time, Abou El Kholti made it 2-0 with a speculative shot deflected in off Darren Way. Immediately after half time, Gavin Williams made it 3-0 with a goal in front of the away fans. Although he mis-controlled the ball at first from Gall, he showed great composure and skill to dig the ball out under pressure from several defenders and beat the keeper. Towards the end Colin Pluck made it 4-0 with a header from a Paul Terry cross, and made it clear with a universally understood gesture that he could not hear what the Rovers fans were saying to him. If there were any two players who would have enjoyed scoring in front of the away fans, it would have been Williams and Pluck.

The following season, there was more needle to be enjoyed when Rovers employed Ian Atkins, an old adversary of Gary Johnson’s since their days together at Cambridge. The two managers could not possibly be more different – Gary Johnson, who likes to play attractive passing football and treats his players like sons, compared to Ian Atkins who is the kind of manager usually brought in to save teams from relegation and acts like a sullen sergeant major. The rivalry between the two teams intensified as Atkins, fresh from two fairly decent seasons at Oxford, turned Rovers into a much better team who led League Two towards the start of the season. However, disciplinary problems cost them, as the club with the worst disciplinary record in the division racked up the red cards and suspensions, including two – which could, and should, have been more – in an infamous night at the Memorial Stadium in October 2004.

In the much-anticipated return fixture in February 2005, Atkins would accuse Yeovil plays of diving ahead of the game, claiming that nobody likes them and Gary Johnson doesn’t have the ‘bottle’ to get a team promoted, and then on the day was strangely struck down with a mysterious virus and was unable to take charge of the team as they lose heavily again, this time 4-2 as the Glovers consolidated their position at the top of League Two. The whereabouts of Ian Atkins’ bottle remains unknown.

An interesting footnote to the 2004 game is that the starting line-up that day consisted entirely of players who had appeared for Yeovil in the Conference, which was possibly a deliberate move from Johnson who even employed the same 3-4-1-2 formation he had mostly used in that title-winning season, with Lindegaard and El Kholti as wing backs as opposed to the 4-4-2 that the Glovers generally employed in League Two. That they were able to beat a mid-table side so comfortably that they could just pass amongst themselves for the last 30 minutes shows just how far ahead of the Conference his team were.

Since the departures of Gary Johnson and Ian Atkins, the atmosphere between the two clubs has been less fiery, and subsequent meetings have resulted in quite a lot of draws. Low point was probably when Gavin Williams scored the winner against us in a 1-0 Rovers win at Huish Park in 2011, and high point was definitely Terrell Forbes scoring a late winner with his only goal for the club at the Mem in 2009.

Team that day: Steve Collis, Andy Lindegaard (sub. Paul Terry 71), Colin Pluck, Terry Skiverton (sub. Hugo Rodrigues 64), Adam Lockwood, Darren Way, Lee Johnson, Abou El Kholti (sub. Simon Weatherstone 90), Gavin Williams, Kirk Jackson, Kevin Gall. Subs not used: Jon Sheffield, Adam Stansfield

Yeovil Town 4 Scunthorpe United 3 – Tuesday 22nd February 2005

After finishing 8th in our first Football League season with a points total of 74 which would have been enough to secure a play-off place in almost any other year, optimism was high at the beginning of 2004/05 that Yeovil could go one further and push for promotion. After a stuttering start and a 3-1 opening day defeat at Bury, the Glovers recovered and briefly went top of League Two after beating Shrewsbury away in September. However, a run of six games without a win followed, leaving the us in 8th following defeat to leaders Scunthorpe at the end of October. The match at Glanford Park was a very close one, as a patched up Yeovil side missing Skiverton, Guyett, Lockwood and O’Brien in defence, and Tarachulski also carrying an injury up front, did well to keep the leaders out for 80-odd minutes. The game was settled by two controversial incidents – in the first half, a Jevons goal was ruled out for offside when the replay clearly showed him to be on. Scunthorpe’s winning goal not only appeared to have been cleared off the line by Lee Johnson, but the corner from which it came should not have been awarded as the ball went out of play in the build-up. So despite losing the game the Glovers could at least console themselves that they could hold their own against the leaders even with a number of absences through injury.

When the two teams met again in February 2005, the tables had been turned – Scunthorpe, once seven points clear at the top, had their lead wiped out by Yeovil’s remarkable run of consecutive wins over Christmas. On 18th December, the Iron led the table with 47 points to the Glovers’ 40. On 3rd January, an equally appalling run for Scunthorpe saw them on 49 points against Yeovil’s 52, as Yeovil came back from 2-1 down to beat Shrewsbury 4-2 with ten men to finally go top of League Two. Despite the occasional setback, the Glovers remained top and were two points clear when the two teams met at Huish Park on a very cold Tuesday night in February.

Yeovil took an early lead, as the Scunthorpe defence were caught out by a long range effort from Bartosz Tarachulski. The visitors then stunned the home side with two goals in front of the Westland Stand before half time, from two poorly-defended set-pieces. The first was especially controversial as there was a foul on the touchline against Yeovil which the linesman was furiously flagging for, but the referee overruled him and gave a free kick the other way, from which Paul Hayes scored. The home fans were still booing the referee at half time as the Glovers went in 2-1 down, despite arguably having the better of the first half – all of the goals had come slightly against the run of play, as the home side played much better after they had scored.

Somewhat unfortunate to be 2-1 down at half time, Yeovil came steaming out in the second half and were very soon level, as Lee Johnson blasted a free kick through the wall to make it 2-2 on 47 minutes. Following the equaliser, the visitors had much the better of the second half and much of the crowd would probably have settled for 2-2. New loan signing from Bristol City Kevin Amankwaah was brought on to shore up the defence, and would have a hand in Yeovil’s two late goals, turning defence into attack. Another new signing on loan from Swindon, Rory Fallon, was brought on for Tarachulski, who was getting no change out of the Scunthorpe defence and was getting increasingly frustrated as the referee was giving a foul every time he dared to try and get off the ground. With the big man already on a yellow, defender Andy Butler attempted to con the referee by falling dramatically to the ground clutching his face claiming he’d been elbowed, and although the replay shows there was clearly no contact, it was perhaps wisest to take Bartosz off.

With their backs against the wall, Yeovil struck back to win the game with two goals in the last ten minutes, both initiated by clearances from Amankwaah – the first up to Jevons, who appeared to have been fouled in the area but the referee took the easy option of giving a corner instead of a penalty. From that corner, Fallon steamed in with a close range header to make it 3-2 with his first and only goal for the club. Fallon had only signed on loan that afternoon, and famously still had directions to the ground written on his hand during the game.

While Yeovil fans were asking themselves whether the Glovers would be able to withstand the last ten minutes of pressure, Arron Davies popped up with a 35-yard screamer out of nowhere to settle the game. With Scunthorpe pressing, a clearance from Amankwaah pretty much on the byline was held up by Fallon, fed to Davies inside his own half, who carried the ball forward and unleashed an unstoppable shot for one of the best goals ever seen at Huish Park in one of the biggest games. The goal came around 15 seconds after Scunthorpe had been in possession in the Yeovil penalty area.

There was still time for some late drama, as Hayes bundled in a 90th minute goal to make it 4-3, but as the snow began to fall there was no time for any further action and Yeovil held out to win, extending their lead at the top of League Two to five points. Also having already beaten Swansea twice, the Glovers had only one game remaining against the other promotion contenders – Southend away, on the penultimate game of the season.

Team that day: Chris Weale, Andy Lindegaard, Michael Rose, Terry Skiverton, Scott Guyett, Darren Way, Lee Johnson, Kevin Gall (sub. Andrejs Stolcers 45 (sub. Kevin Amankwaah 79)), Arron Davies, Bartosz Tarachulski (sub. Rory Fallon 70), Phil Jevons. Subs not used: Steve Collis, Paul Terry

Doncaster Rovers 4 Yeovil Town 5 – Saturday 23rd February 2002

When Yeovil played Doncaster in the FA Trophy Fourth Round in 2001/02, the Glovers were in a free-scoring run of form. Since the rebuilding job begun by Gary Johnson in the summer, the addition of Adam Stansfield from Elmore in November turned Yeovil from mid-table inconsistency to a more dangerous proposition. They continued to be dogged by defensive problems, caused by a new-look back line of (when fit) Lockwood, Tonkin, Skiverton and Pluck, who were taking time to get used to each other given significant injury problems in defence. Colin Pluck (later Miles) was missing for much of the first part of the season and when he returned, Skiverton was out for an equally long time. Meanwhile Roy O’Brien suffered a broken leg, forcing Tom White to play on through very difficult personal circumstances, which he did admirably. Defending in the first half of the season was often disastrous to the point of being comical, but at least once Stansfield arrived goals started to go in at the other end with more frequency.

In February 2002, Yeovil were in an incredible run of games – a 4-0 spanking of Hayes in a monsoon at Church Road was followed by a remarkable 5-1 win at Morecambe. The following week, the Glovers played out an entertaining 3-3 draw with leaders Dagenham, which they arguably could have won. A run of 20 league and cup games unbeaten saw them up to 3rd in the table behind leading pair Boston and Dagenham. The week after the Doncaster replay came a dramatic late 2-1 win at home over rivals Hereford. After a decidedly dodgy first three months or so of the season, things were finally starting to come together for Gary Johnson’s side. Between the beginning of January and the middle of March the Glovers were unbeaten, scoring 36 goals in 13 games but also conceding 16 – in this time they scored in every single game, but also only kept three clean sheets, the goals were flying in.

Following the 3-1 win at Tiverton Town in the Third Round, Yeovil were drawn at home against fourth-placed Doncaster. The original tie was due to be played on 2nd February, but was postponed three times due to a waterlogged pitch, as Huish Park was an absolute quagmire at the time. It finally went ahead on Tuesday 19th, and of course ended in a draw – Paul Barnes capitalised on a Lockwood mistake early on, but Adam Stansfield secured a replay with a 79th minute header. Stansfield was in a rich vein of form at the time, scoring 13 goals in 13 games and also grabbing 7 assists, scoring in 6 out of the 7 games prior to Doncaster so it was no surprise to see him pop up with a late equaliser.

The original tie had been so delayed that the replay took place on Saturday 23rd February, the day the 5th Round had been scheduled to take place, so the winners already knew they would be facing Trophy holders Canvey Island at home in the next round.

Despite the Glovers’ good form at the time, they were suffering from severe selection problems. A bout of flu had run through the club, with Colin Pluck, Olivier Brassart, Darren Way and even Gary Johnson among the victims. In addition, Lee Johnson and Kim Grant had been injured during the first game and were unavailable for the replay. This left severe shortages in midfield, with only 39-year old Steve Thompson, already pulled out of retirement to cover the ongoing injury crisis, fully fit. Roy O’Brien was on the bench, but had not started a game since breaking a leg against Scarborough in September.

Playing into a strong wind, Yeovil got off to a terrible start, conceding a penalty after five minutes, although even with the benefit of a replay it is not clear what the offence was as nobody appealed for it. Jamie Paterson converted, and young striker Robert Gill scored a header to make it 2-0 after 22 minutes. The Glovers went in at half time 2-0 down and it could have been a lot worse as Doncaster had multiple chances to increase their lead, with only the post and at least two goal line clearances keeping the score down to two.

Brassart and Way had started in midfield alongside Thommo, but were both forced to withdraw due to illness, on 29 minutes and 52 minutes respectively. To make matters worse, Thompson pulled a muscle and had to be withdrawn at half time to be replaced by Roy O’Brien, playing pretty much alone in central midfield on his first game in five months.

Playing with the wind behind them, the odds were still very much against Yeovil in the second half. Donny continued to dominate, and there was at least one more goal line clearance and a last ditch save from Weale before the Glovers got back into it. Before that though, from a Yeovil corner that was cleared, Robert Gill ran half the length of the pitch to beat Weale and put the home side 3-0 up after 49 minutes. Surely game over, as some Yeovil fans in the 150 or so away following took that as their cue to head back to Somerset, and the stadium PA announced that the next round would take place against Canvey Island the following Tuesday.

The tide soon turned though, as on 52 minutes Darren Way, who had made a mistake in letting the ball pass him in the build-up to Doncaster’s third goal, was replaced by Carl Alford as Yeovil went to three up front with Giles and Stansfield. Just five minutes later, the comeback began as an in-swinging Nick Crittenden free kick was headed home from close range by Colin Pluck to make it 3-1. On 75 minutes, it was Crittenden again who provided the assist, using the wind to his advantage to swing in another deep cross, for Alford to head home for 3-2.

At this point Doncaster made the mistake of withdrawing top scorer Paul Barnes, replacing him with the giant Mark Sale, presumably in an effort to hold up the ball. However Sale is not a goalscorer, and clumsily fell over the ball when if he had controlled it better he would have been through on goal.

For the last 15 minutes, it rained goals as there was almost no time for any action in between – following Alford’s goal on 75 minutes, a deep McIndoe free kick on 79 minutes was stabbed home from close range by Adam Stansfield to make it 3-3. On 86 minutes, Stansfield scored easily the best goal of the game with an incredible 30-yard lob to put the Glovers 4-3 up. With Yeovil finally in front, you’d think this would be the last of the scoring, but just two minutes later Doncaster broke forward, and a cross was converted by Gareth Owen in the box to make it 4-4, as hundreds of home fans flooding for the exits suddenly stopped to watch the game again.

However, precisely 10 seconds after the re-start, a foul on McIndoe on the half-way line gave Yeovil a free kick. McIndoe passed inside to White, who launched a long ball into the box. A headed clearance fell to Skiverton 20 yards out, who shot through a melee of players to beat the keeper and put Yeovil 5-4 up for the last goal of the game. Despite the flood of goals there was still a minute plus four more of injury time, during which the home side did push forward, and had a late appeal for a penalty turned down. It wasn’t the end of the action but it was the end of the scoring, as the whistle finally blew with Yeovil winning incredibly 5-4 with four goals in the last 15 minutes with, let’s not forget, about half of their team missing through illness and injury.

It is probably fair to say that despite Yeovil’s fairly poor record in the FA Trophy up until this point, a lot of people felt that after that incredible game, our name was on the cup. However it was still early in the competition, with four more rounds to go. Holders Canvey Island awaited in the next round, which was due to be played the following Tuesday but was again postponed. Ishtmian League Canvey had beaten Conference sides Stevenage, Telford, Chester and Forest Green on their way to winning the Trophy in 2001, but were yet to face a Conference team in this season’s competition.

That game ended up being played on Tuesday 5th March – the Tuesday after that dramatic late win against Hereford that would see McIndoe sent off and Andy Lindegaard score an injury time winner – and was a bit more comfortable this time, with Yeovil going 2-0 up through Stansfield and Crittenden, and surviving a late scare to win 2-1. The next round saw the Glovers in the Quarter Final for the first time in almost ten years, drawn away at Northwich Victoria, the other team in green and white, and time to dust off the sky blue away kit for only the second time.

Team that day: Chris Weale, Adam Lockwood, Terry Skiverton, Colin Pluck, Darren Way (sub. Carl Alford, 52), Steve Thompson (sub. Roy O’Brien, 46), Olivier Brassart (sub. Tom White, 29), Nick Crittenden, Michael McIndoe, Chris Giles, Adam Stansfield. Subs not used: Jon Sheffield, Andy Lindegaard

 

Yeovil Town 3 Scunthorpe 0 – Saturday 16th February 2013

Gary Johnson’s second spell at Yeovil was surely more successful than anyone could have expected. The Glovers had among the lowest playing budgets in League One, and for every season after the play-offs of 2006/07 avoiding relegation was an achievement and some years it was tighter than others. In 2011/12, Yeovil had been bottom in November before the arrival of Johnson in January turned the team’s fortunes around, as they ended the season in 17th.

A good start had seen the Glovers go top early in the 2012/13 season, but after that followed a horrific run of six defeats in a row. This was was halted by the arrival of a relatively unknown young Irish striker on loan from Carlisle. Paddy Madden was 22 at the time he signed, having been unable to make much impact at his first English club after moving from Ireland, scoring no goals in 14 appearances for the Cumbrians in 2011/12. But there was something about Gary Johnson that was able to bring out the best in Madden as he made an immediate impact, scoring twice on his debut against Colchester, and scoring six goals in his first seven starts. Yeovil’s form stabilised with Madden in the team, as he formed a productive partnership with James Hayter.

One game that Madden didn’t score in was the impressive 2-1 win away at Portsmouth at the end of December. This began a remarkable run of eight consecutive wins, which would lift the Glovers from 12th up to 3rd in the League One table, and in a position to challenge for the play-offs.

The goals were flowing during this period, with comfortable wins 3-0 over Leyton Orient, 3-0 over Brentford, 3-1 over Preston and 4-1 over Oldham. The Glovers brushed aside Scunthorpe 3-0 on 16th February, with goals from Webster in the first half, and two towards the end from Hayter and Madden. There was some controversy, as the visitors had an appeal for a penalty turned down for a challenge from behind from Webster on Sodje, and may have felt that the later penalty awarded for a foul on Foley after a marauding run into the box was also somewhat harsh.

Madden was particularly on fire at this time, scoring in eight consecutive games after Portsmouth. His final goal in that incredible run was in the 1-1 draw at promotion-chasing Doncaster which complete a spell of 11 goals in 8 games, a run that Messi would be proud of. His loan was converted to a permanent transfer in January, for an undisclosed fee thought to be around £50,000. With the addition of that extremely elusive 20-goal a season striker, the first at the club since Phil Jevons in 2004/05, Yeovil were able to push on. Madden scored 23 goals in 39 games, ending the season as League One’s top scorer. He actually had a dry spell of six games without a goal at the end of the season and didn’t score in either of the play-off games against Sheffield United, but did provide the assist for Ed Upson’s winning goal at Huish Park. He ended his run of blanks in spectacular fashion win an incredible goal in the opening minutes against Brentford at Wembley which set Yeovil on their way to a 2-1 win and Championship football for the first time in their history, just ten years after promotion from the Conference.

Paddy found life in the Championship somewhat harder and he did not score in the 2013/14 season, although to be fair he was handed very few starts, starting the first three Championship games before being dropped, and after that he struggled to get back into the team. He was surprisingly transfer-listed by Gary Johnson in November, and sold to Scunthorpe for a reported £300,000 in January, even though he still had a year and a half left on his contract. While Gary Johnson suggested that he might not be ‘Championship standard’, that seemed like a strange statement to make given that not many of the squad were, and surely Madden was at least good enough for League One, where Yeovil seemed to be heading.

Despite dropping to League Two his new club Scunthorpe were promoted that season, following which Madden proved he was indeed League One standard, where he spent the next seven seasons. He scored 17 and 23 goals in his first two seasons, and after a lean 2016/17, was sold to fellow League One outfit Fleetwood for around £150,000 where he scored 19 goals in 2018/19 and 19 again in 2019/20. He contracted Covid in 2021, and after recovering made the surprise drop from League One to the National League. High-spending Stockport splashed out an estimated £150,000 for the now 31-year old on a 3.5 year contract. At the point he left Fleetwood he was their all-time Football League top goalscorer, in addition to being the 10th highest ever scorer at Scunthorpe, having scored almost 200 goals in his career from Bohemians in lreland 14 years ago, to the National League with Stockport today.

Team that day: Marek Stech, Luke Ayling, Jamie McAllister (sub. Nathan Ralph 83), Byron Webster, Dan Burn, Joe Edwards, Ed Upson, Kevin Dawson, Sam Foley (sub. Lewis Young 82), James Hayter (sub. Kwesi Appiah 82), Paddy Madden. Subs not used: Gareth Stewart, Richard Hinds, Dominic Blizzard, Gavin Williams.

Yeovil Town 2 Hartlepool 0 – Saturday 7th January 2006

In 2005/06, following two promotions in three years, it took some time for Yeovil to adjust to life in League One – it was a big step up in quality, and the team which scored over 100 goals and only failed to hit the target in three league games in 2004/05 was finding defences much more solid and difficult to break down. Yeovil only scored one goal in their first four games – from a defender, Kevin Amankwaah – and it took until Hartlepool away in September to register their first win, a scrappy 1-0 thanks to new signing Pablo Bastianini. Despite the difficult start and the loss of Gary Johnson after 11 games to Bristol City, as the games progressed the team did gain confidence under Steve Thompson and start to drag their way up the table. Thommo’s Yeovil won 13 points from his first 6 games in charge, including impressive wins over Swansea, Scunthorpe and a 3-0 stuffing of Nottingham Forest. The Glovers gradually moved up to mid-table and even once or twice were in a position to potentially think about playoffs.

The Christmas period was a mixed bag, with decent wins against Barnsley and Doncaster, a 4-1 hiding at Tranmere and a slightly disappointing draw in the first ever league tie against Bristol City, given they had lost nine in a row and had been bottom of the table in December. Following a decent 1-0 win at Doncaster, the Glovers welcomed Hartlepool to Huish Park, who were despatched 2-0 with both goals coming from Phil Jevons, the first an overhead scissor-kick following an impressive run from Kevin Amankwaah, who had been one of the most consistent performers in the first part of the season, and one of those who seemed most at home at his new level.

The win took Yeovil up to 10th, with 36 points from 27 games and seemingly any fears of relegation behind them. However, a takeover was happening behind the scenes, and everything was about to change. Former manager David Webb became the new owner, purchasing the majority of shares from Jon Goddard-Watts. Webb immediately set about reducing the budget despite the crowds being around 6,500, even higher than League Two and increased revenue in the previous two seasons from two significant FA Cup runs including televised matches. Yeovil started to sell their assets, with Darren Way sold to Swansea for £150,000, and Lee Johnson to Hearts for the criminal sum of £50,000. The two players who had been ever-present from 2001-2005 and were the heartbeat of the team, left the club within days of each other. Efe Sodje was also sold, to Southend, and more would depart at the end of the season.

Hartlepool would be Lee Johnson’s last game for Yeovil, after around 4.5 years, 230 appearances, 28 goals, 80 assists and two promotions. He had settled in well at League One – going on to play around 130 times in the Championship for Bristol City – and appeared to be playing with more freedom once Gary Johnson was no longer the manager. He was ever-present from the moment he arrived to the day he left, playing around 50 games a season aside from the occasional suspension. His usual midfield partner Darren Way had been out of the team for part of 2005/06 due to injury, and last played in November 2005 against his future club Swansea. 18-year old Chris Cohen had already come in on loan from West Ham to cover for Way and was an instant hit but Anthony Barry, signed from Accrington to replace Johnson, only played a few games before sustaining a horrific injury against Chesterfield and missing the rest of the season. In also came Daniel Webb who, being signed from non-league Weymouth, did not appear to be a League One striker. In two years at the club, he made ten substitute appearances, making no starts and scoring no goals before dropping back into non-league, where he failed to hold down a first team place at Isthmian League AFC Wimbledon.

As soon as those key players were sold, results began to suffer. After Hartlepool, which was Lee Johnson’s last game, there followed a run of only two wins in 13 games, as Yeovil slid down to 20th and relegation suddenly became a real possibility again. A vital 3-0 win at Chesterfield halted the slide despite major injuries to Anthony Barry and on-loan Tommy Doherty, and another crucial win at struggling Walsall in March gave the Glovers hope. Still hovering around 20th, a late rally with victories against Gillingham and a surprise away win at Huddersfield courtesy of another Phil Jevons brace, was just enough to see the Glovers safe and finish the season in the dizzy heights of 16th, six points clear of relegation.

The departures did not end there, as the playing budget was cut further and more players were sold or allowed to leave for nothing. At the end of the season Phil Jevons and Chris Weale both left on free transfers to re-join Gary Johnson at Bristol City. Amankwaah was sold to Swansea for £250,000. There was not much sign of the proceeds of these sales being put back into the team, except for the absolute steal of making Chris Cohen a permanent signing from West Ham for around £90,000. New manager Russell Slade saw his playing squad reduced from over 20 to around 16 as a revolving door of loan players became the new recruitment policy. Fortunately, Slade proved himself able to work with a small budget as he had done at his previous clubs, and also a canny mover in the transfer market, bringing in players such as Marcus Stewart, Lee Morris and Leon Best. Despite the apparent decrease in resources, Yeovil were able to stabilise in League One for several years and even get to the playoff final in 2006/07, very much against the odds. In the summer of 2006, Webb sold his shares to John Fry who became the owner after many years as Chairman.

At the start of the 2005/06 season, nine players in the Yeovil squad had been at the club since the Conference days. By the start of the following season, only Skiverton and Lindegaard remained. By the start of 2007/08, only Skiverton and Guyett remained of the team who had won League Two just two years earlier.

Team that day: Steve Collis, Kevin Amankwaah (sub. Andy Lindegaard 35), Nathan Jones, Terry Skiverton, Scott Guyett, Chris Cohen, Lee Johnson, Paul Terry, David Poole (sub. Arron Davies 85), Matt Harrold, Phil Jevons (sub. Kevin Gall 86). Subs not used: Chris Weale, Luke Oliver

 

Yeovil Town 3 Brentford 0 – Saturday 2nd February 2013

Yeovil went on a remarkable run over the winter of 2012/13, winning eight in a row which took them from 12th up to 3rd in League One. The run included impressive victories away at Portsmouth, Sheffield United and Coventry, and big wins at home over Leyton Orient and Brentford. Following the mid-season arrivals of Dan Burn and Paddy Madden, the team had a very settled look with a strong starting XI. Recently arrived was Madden’s compatriot Kevin Dawson, who made his league debut at Sheffield Utd and would be ever-present on the right wing for the rest of the season, scoring the first goal in the memorable playoff win at Huish Park.

Of course scorer of the decisive goal against Sheffield Utd and a key member of the team was Ed Upson, who arrived without much fanfare in the summer of 2010, but by 2012 was the heart of the midfield and had become an assist machine in the mould of Lee Johnson. He scored one of his best goals for Yeovil in this 3-0 win in February 2013, which took the Glovers up to 7th. The other goals came from Madden, and Dan Burn right at the end.

Probably crucial to Upson’s development was that he was given time to develop and grow into the team. Rising through the youth team at Ipswich, he never made a league appearance for them, and following brief loan spells at Barnet and Stevenage he was released in the summer of 2010, when he was signed for Yeovil by Terry Skiverton.

In his first season, he was bedded into the team slowly, mainly as a replacement when Shaun MacDonald was not available, making 16 starts. He actually scored his only goal of that season on one of his first starts, as a very patched-up Yeovil side took an early 2-0 lead at Hartlepool in the FA Cup but ended up losing 4-2.

The following season he was given the No. 8 shirt and was first choice in midfield, forming a partnership with Paul Wotton in the first half of the season and making 45 appearances in all competitions. He began to develop an eye for goal, scoring five times mostly from long range, including this absolute stunner against Wycombe, as well as other long range strikes against Hereford and Fleetwood, both in the FA Cup. He also scored in the first minute of a 2-2 derby draw against Exeter.

However a midfielder’s job is to create goals more than score them, and in his first full season Upson got a creditable 9 assists, the most in the team and just ahead of Andy Williams with 8. Assists have become a very useful way of a measuring a player’s contribution especially in attacking areas, and it can also highlight the value of those who might possibly be under-appreciated if they create a lot more goals than they score. For example, Kevin Gall contributed 14 assists in 2003/04 and 12 in 2004/05, which may indicate why Gary Johnson kept him in the team even when the goals dried up.

Assists are still not very reliably recorded, and tend to be spread throughout the team much more than goals but looking at the available data a team needs at least one player who is going to get in double figures to have a good season, and high teens is a very good return. Anything over 20 would be exceptional – a midfielder who gets 20 assists is much harder to find than a striker who gets 20 goals. In many seasons, Yeovil have not had a player in double figures for assists and have not had once since Sam Foley in 2015, although Tom Knowles should get well into the teens this season (2021/22) if he doesn’t get injured.

Some of our most successful seasons have seen Michael McIndoe get 23 (2002/03), Lee Johnson get 20 (2003/04), and Chris Cohen get 13 (2006/07). Sam Foley got a very impressive 13 in 2014/15 despite playing in a team that got relegated. King of the assist makers is undoubtedly Lee Johnson, who got around 80 in 4.5 years at the club, so consistently almost 20 a season. By contrast, in the years that Yeovil have struggled, we have not had anyone in double figures – in 2007/08, Anthony Barry came out top with 6. What were the wingers doing that season? Things did improve under Skivo, with Andy Welsh contributing 10 in 2009/10 and 12 in 2010/11, so perhaps he was under-appreciated a bit.

This brings us back to Ed Upson, whose incredible 6 goals and 18 assists in 2012/13 represents one of the best returns we’ve ever seen for an attacking midfielder. Not quite as good as Lee Johnson’s 11 goals and 17 assists in 2004/05, but that’s a high bar.

Like Johnson Jr, Upson also specialised in spectacular goals, memorably scoring two from long range against Bristol Rovers in the JPT, as well as the only goal in a 1-0 win over play-off rivals Tranmere. He would continue to raise his game at Championship level, securing 5 goals and 3 assists in half of a difficult season before moving to Millwall in January. With his contract running out, he had shown that he was capable of playing at a higher level than Yeovil and taking a transfer fee rather than allowing him to leave for nothing at the end of his contract was probably the right choice. He did leave us with some good Championship memories though, scoring Yeovil’s first Championship goal at Millwall on the first day, as well as two more long range efforts against Nottingham Forest in a 3-1 win.

He played in the Championship for two years, before being relegated to League One with Millwall. He remained with the Lions for another year, before spending two years at MK Dons and three at Bristol Rovers, all in League One, and it looks like he’s still got an eye for goal. He has since played for Newport and just moved to Stevenage so who knows, perhaps as he gets towards the end of his career we will see him again!

Team that day: Marek Stech, Luke Ayling, Jamie McAllister, Byron Webster, Dan Burn, Matt Dolan (sub. Joe Edwards 24), Ed Upson (sub. Dominic Blizzard 82), Kevin Dawson, Sam Foley, James Hayter (sub. Kwesi Appiah 74), Paddy Madden. Subs not used: Gareth Stewart, Richard Hinds, Lewis Young, Gavin Williams

Yeovil Town 1 Northampton Town 0 – Tuesday 12th February 2008

Following the unexpected Playoff Final of 2006/07, Russell Slade’s second season in charge of Yeovil turned out to be much more of a challenge. The core of the team – Mildenhall, Skiverton, Forbes, Jones, Guyett, Barry, Stewart – remained the same, and those who moved on seemed to see like for like replacements. The biggest loss was undoubtedly Chris Cohen, the player of the season sold for £1.2 million with Arron Davies to Nottingham Forest. Out also went Terry, Kalala, Morris, and Gray. In to replace them came Lee Peltier, Marc Bircham, Gary Dempsey, Paul Warne and Lloyd Owusu. Slade brought in Bircham and Dempsey to replace Kalala and Cohen in midfield, but both of them spent the first half of the season injured. Bircham, probably the biggest profile signing of the summer after playing over 150 times for QPR, did not work out and would make only 13 starts in two years at the club. Marvin Williams, a winger/striker signed from Millwall to replace Davies, was also injured early in the season and made very few appearances before moving on to Brentford. The other midfield signing, Ritchie Jones on loan from Manchester United, failed to make much of an impact.

The Glovers endured an uneven start to the season characterised by a new fragility at the back and a tendency to concede very late goals. Goals in the last few minutes against Tranmere, Leeds, Bristol Rovers, Millwall, Swansea and even bottom club Cheltenham all cost points in the first half of the season. The foundation of the team’s success in 2006/07 had been their resolute defence and ability to sit on a one goal lead. On only two occasions did Yeovil draw after scoring first (both early in the season), and they did not once lose in the league after scoring first, but in 2007/08 it became a recurring theme even though the defence was the same – the only difference was that Lee Peltier came in at right back in place of the numerous right backs needed to cover Mark Lynch’s serious injury in 2006. The key to the Glovers’ solidity appears to have been the two spoilers in midfield, Terry and Kalala, who were both gone. Matthew Rose was very capable in that role when fit, which wasn’t very often. I seem to recall him being known as Mr Glass at his previous clubs due to the frequency with which he was injured. To add to the injury problems, Steve Mildenhall suffered two extended absences to injuries sustained during games, both of which led to outfield players having to go in goal (Skiverton against Leyton Orient and Alcock against Walsall) due to there being no reserve keeper at the club. Three loan keepers were brought in at various times, all of them playing in the No. 31 shirt.

Despite these numerous injury setbacks, Yeovil were 8th at Christmas. With Gary Dempsey finally fit and available, winger Zoltan Stieber on loan from Aston Villa and striker Andy Kirk arriving from Northampton, things seemed to be looking up with the Glovers still in play-off contention, but it was all downhill from there. A 2-1 win at home to Brighton at the end of December was followed by a run of eight games without a win, as Yeovil slid from 8th down to 15th. With several key players still absent with injury, the squad became a revolving door of loan signings with players like Simon Church, Liam Bridcutt, Jean-Francois Christophe and Aidan Downes coming and then going again.

Without a win in 2008, the Glovers were getting desperate for any kind of result ahead of the visit of Northampton in February. A game fairly low on chances but which the home side had slightly the better of ticked into injury time, and with their last chance of the game an Anthony Barry corner was partially cleared, falling to Captain Fantastic Terry Skiverton who lashed home the ball with his left foot to secure a dramatic winner. It did not signal a change in fortunes but did halt the slide, as Yeovil limped on to the end of the season finishing in 18th, securing League One status by surprisingly spoiling the promotion party at Champions Swansea.

It was not the first time that Skiverton would pop up with a dramatic late goal. He scored a lot for a centre half, 44 in total at Yeovil. Not all of them with his head either, although he did injure himself more than once while scoring with a header. Memorable for most people would be the dramatic 89th-minute strike from outside the area to give Yeovil the 5-4 win in the FA Trophy replay at Doncaster. However he also scored many other crucial goals – in 2005, with the Glovers struggling to hold on to top spot in League Two, he scored both goals in a 2-1 win at Boston. In 1999, he scored the first two in a 5-1 demolition of Rushden at Huish Park. In 2002/03, he was the leading scorer for a time at the start of the season, as the Glovers tried to recover from the loss of Adam Stansfield on the first day. He scored 7 goals in his first 13 games, including a crucial injury time equaliser on the first day to complete a comeback from 2-0 down against Gravesend, and a late winner at Kettering a couple of weeks later, before celebrating the delayed return to Huish Park with another. My own personal favourite memory was when Yeovil went into the game against Doncaster in 2006 needing a win to avoid relegation, and Skivo scored in the 8th minute to send us on the way to a comfortable 3-0 win with a sublime shot from the edge of the area, off the inside of the post. What would turn out to be his last goal for the club was also a cracker – very similar to the one against Donny, the only goal in a 1-0 win over Tranmere in 2008. His best goal-scoring seasons were 2002/03 with 9, 7 in 1999/2000 and 6 in 2005/06.

He didn’t only play in defence either – in 2000/01, due to Warren Patmore’s troublesome hamstring and Barrington Belgrave’s suspension, he was deployed as an emergency striker at the end of the season as Yeovil attempted to chase down Rushden, donning Patmore’s No. 9 shirt at least twice. In one of his last seasons as a player he even had a go in goal, coming in to cover after Steve Mildenhall was injured against Leyton Orient as there was no keeper on the bench. The game was lost 1-0, but to be fair Mildenhall was injured in the process of conceding and Skivo did keep a clean sheet for the 30 or so minutes he was in goal.

Team that day: Scott Flinders, Lee Peltier, Nathan Jones, Scott Guyett, Terry Skiverton, Matthew Rose, Anthony Barry, Liam Bridcutt, Jaime Peters (sub. Marvin Williams 75), Lloyd Owusu (sub. Simon Church 68), Andy Kirk. Subs not used: Craig Alcock, Zoltan Stieber, Paul Warne

Yeovil Town 2 Exeter City 1 – Saturday 23rd January 2010

In January 2010, Huish Park hosted Exeter City for the first time ever in a League fixture. Yeovil’s rise to League One had coincided with a period in the doldrums for Exeter, who were relegated to the Conference the same year that Yeovil were promoted, and remained there until 2008.

Yeovil lined up in a new 4-3-3 formation with Williams, Bowditch and Obika up front. It was a scrappy affair, with Yeovil taking the lead through their first attack. The front line of Exeter had a very familiar look to it, as lining up for them were former Glovers Marcus Stewart and Adam Stansfield. Stansfield scored the equaliser, but Yeovil went ahead before half time through Spurs loanee Ryan Mason and the Grecians seemed to tire in the second half as both strikers were replaced and Yeovil cruised to victory in front of 6,282.

Adam Stansfield showed a lot of class in not celebrating his goal, although a common gesture now it was less common then. Especially given what a committed and whole-hearted player he was, and if anything he might have felt entitled to celebrate in front of the club who let him go in 2004. He did not get much of a chance for Yeovil in League Two, and here he was showing he could still score in League One. But his gesture showed how much of a place Yeovil had in his heart, as even though he played more games for Hereford and Exeter, Yeovil are a big part of Adam Stansfield’s story, and he is a big part of ours.

Adam arrived at Huish Park in November 2001, a couple of months into Gary Johnson’s first season. It was probably the lowest point of that season, as his debut came in a best-forgotten 3-0 drubbing at Southport which saw the Glovers 2-0 down inside the first ten minutes and Lee Johnson sent off. After the game Yeovil lay in 10th with some even questioning whether Gary Johnson was up to the job. However it was all improvement from there – the following week, Yeovil scrapped their way to a 1-0 win at Margate which began an unbeaten run of 20 league and cup games. It was taking time to build a side as Gary Johnson had inherited a team which had lost several of its best players over the summer, and he was facing the need to re-build. He took his time finding the right players to fill the two obvious gaps at right back and up front, which he eventually did with the two Adams, Lockwood and Stansfield. Although he had Carl Alford, Chris Giles, Scott Ramsay and later on Kim Grant, they were all of a similar build – he had a lot of big men up front, but no little man. Adam Stansfield was that little man. He had come seemingly from nowhere, after having signed at the age of 23 from Elmore, a Western League side based in Tiverton who played at the same level as Yeovil’s reserves. But even though it took him time to adjust, the fans took to him straight away due to his effort and commitment, he was the kind of player fans love with his constant running, and he always played with a smile on his face.

He came straight into the first team, and started every game he was available for except one, when he was rested at the end of the season against upcoming Trophy Final opponents Stevenage. His first goal came away at Northwich in his fourth game, and after taking a while to adjust to Conference football he went on an incredible run of 13 goals in 13 games, he could not stop scoring. He had gone from an unknown in Devon non-league to one of the first names on Yeovil’s team sheet in just a couple of months. He would end up scoring 16 goals in 30 starts, comfortably eclipsing his more experienced strike partner Carl Alford, although he arguably had a more productive partnership with Kim Grant. He was quick, would chase down defenders and could score with either foot. The obvious comparison at the time might have been Michael Owen, but he seemed more similar to Craig Bellamy, the way he hassled defenders and made a nuisance of himself. He also got his share of assists, grabbing ten to go with his 16 goals including a hat-trick in the 5-1 win at Morecambe.

Of course most will always associate Adam Stansfield with the 2002 FA Trophy run, where he scored 8 of his 16 goals including the memorable one in the Final, from a sublime first touch that left the defender in his dust. The run began back on his old turf, scoring twice in a 3-1 win at Tiverton. In the next round he scored a late equaliser to force a replay against Doncaster, and the two goals that would complete the comeback at Belle Vue in the replay. His incredible strike from distance to put Yeovil 4-3 up was even better, and from further out, than Terry Skiverton’s late winner. He would score in every round except the semi-final, and certainly had plenty of chances in the televised game against Burton, but with the tie already dead at 4-0 up, he did not appear to have his shooting boots on that day. One of his most memorable moments that season came after the final whistle, as he accidentally swore in the post-match interview after the FA Trophy Final, while excitably giving a ‘Shout to to the Elmore boys!’

Sadly Adam suffered a serious leg break just minutes into the historic 2002/03 campaign and he missed the entire season. Who knows how many goals he would have scored being supplied chances from Johnson, Crittenden, Williams and McIndoe for 50-odd games.

Thankfully he made a return in Yeovil’s first league season in 2003/04, although he was not first choice. Even though Yeovil struggled a little bit up front in their first season, the first choice was generally Kirk Jackson, and later Jake Edwards, partnered by Kevin Gall and although it seemed like the manager was often not very happy with his strikers (with Edwards and Gall both scoring ten, very few of which were after Christmas), Adam’s chances remained very limited. When given chances he was effective, scoring 6 goals in only 7 starts. In his first start against Swansea in September, he got a goal and an assist in a 2-0 win, and despite being dropped again, scored from the bench against York in the next game, but still didn’t start another game until the end of December. Later in the season he was given starts against Cambridge and Boston, scoring in both, but was not given runs in the team and was dropped again. From a personal point of view this seemed very unfair as when he played, he scored, but he was never given a run in the team even when other strikers weren’t delivering. His last appearance typified what must have been a frustrating year – on the last day of the season, Yeovil needed a win away at Lincoln to have a chance of the play-offs. Gall was played up front on his own, but with the game 0-0 at half time, Edwards and Stansfield were introduced at half time and both scored, Stansfield taking just two minutes to have an impact. He was released at the end of the season, and in my view slightly prematurely as he had done nothing to suggest he couldn’t make it at league level.

He spent the next two years at Hereford which we’ll forgive him for, scoring 24 goals in 2004/05, and 11 more in an injury-hit 2005/06. He helped Hereford to promotion from the Conference in 2006, and then did the same again for Exeter in 2008, achieving the unusual feat of being promoted from the Conference three times with different clubs. Managed by another former Glover in Paul Tisdale, Exeter went straight through League Two and were promoted automatically in 2009, which finally brought them to the same level as Yeovil from 2009 to 2012. Although not as prolific at Exeter, Adam remained a consistent performer, scoring 39 goals in 160 appearances through the Conference and up to League One. He scored eight goals in 30 games of what would turn out to be his final season.

Sadly, shortly after the game against Yeovil in January, Adam was diagnosed with bowel cancer in March of the same year. Although initial treatment was successful and he did report for pre-season training, his condition deteriorated and he died on 10th August 2010 at the very young age of 31. He was well liked by everyone and will be remembered by every club he played for. Exeter retired his No. 9 shirt for nine years, and he has stands named after him at Exeter and Elmore.

Adam was married to Marie just before he joined Yeovil and they had three children. His son Jay came through the Exeter Academy before signing for Championship side Fulham in 2019. He has just recently started appearing for Fulham’s first team, scoring his first goal in the League Cup against Birmingham on 24 August 2021, at the age of 20.

Team that day: Alex McCarthy, Craig Alcock, Nathan Jones, Stefan Stam, Steven Caulker, Jean-Paul Kalala, Shaun MacDonald, Ryan Mason (sub. Keiran Murtagh 60), Jonathan Obika (sub. Andy Welsh 67), Sam Williams, Dean Bowditch (sub. Nathan Smith 90). Subs not used: Ben Roberts, Terrell Forbes, Scott Murray, Aidan Downes

 

Doncaster Rovers 0 Yeovil Town 4 – Saturday 12th April 2002

On the day that Yeovil were confirmed Conference Champions in April 2002, they were scheduled to play at Doncaster live on Sky, after being ignored for much of the season. Despite Yeovil being top since September, Sky had showed their usual favour towards the ex-league teams and had not shown Yeovil since their first game back at Huish Park against Woking. In other circumstances this might have been a title decider, as Doncaster had probably been the pick of the chasing teams and looked most likely to challenge the Glovers. It is often the way that the two top teams play each other towards the end of the season, as happened when Yeovil hosted Rushden and Diamonds in April 2001.

It wasn’t to be though, as Donny had lost their games in hand and their challenge had fallen away. Yeovil had the chance to seal the title at home to Telford the previous week, but as Chester won they could technically be caught on goal difference, however unlikely that might be. So it appeared that Yeovil would have to beat Doncaster live on Sky in order to win the title, a tough proposition. As it happened, we were confirmed champions before the game started – the 5.30 kick-off meant all of the 3.00 games had finished. Chester dropped points at home to struggling Woking and could no longer catch the Glovers – they had scored two very late goals after going 2-0 down but it wasn’t enough and the game finished 2-2. There was jubilation among the 1000 or so travelling fans on the crumbling Doncaster terrace as the title was won without even kicking a ball. We hoped that the game wouldn’t be an anti-climax after all our hard work being ignored by Sky, and that we could still put on a show.

Fortunately that was exactly what happened, as Yeovil ran away with the game, beating one of their nearest rivals 4-0 on their own ground in front of their biggest crowd of the season. In fairness it had been a tight game until a flurry of goals at the end of the first half gave Yeovil a 3-0 lead. Darren Way barged his way into the box and in the process of falling over accidentally diverted the ball into the net for his only goal of the season. Michael McIndoe scored the second from the penalty spot, and Lee Johnson scored the third in the most unusual circumstances.

Defender Steve Foster blocked a cross in the box, and played it back to Andy Warrington who picked the ball up, giving away a free kick as it was a deliberate back-pass; Yeovil were given a free-kick about six yards out. Although this seems like a good thing it often ends in farce, as when the entire defending team lines up on the goal line it is very difficult to score from an indirect free-kick, as this example earlier in the season against Telford shows.

However, showing determination and speed of thought, Kevin Gall wrestled the ball away from the goalkeeper and took a quick free-kick to Lee Johnson who scored, all while the defenders were continuing to argue about the decision. The entire defence switched off, including the keeper who was still holding the ball but let go of it. Some have pointed out since that it was technically an illegal free-kick as the ball has to be placed at least six yards out even if the offence is on the goal-line so it was taken from the wrong place, but it would not have made any difference and the goal was allowed.

Kevin Gall scored a fourth just after half time and the game ended 4-0. The cherry on the cake came in the 89th minute, when Chris Weale saved a penalty from Conference top scorer Paul Barnes, keeping Kirk Jackson in with a shout of the golden boot at the end of the season.

Lee Johnson’s goal is something that exemplified Yeovil’s speed and initiative which was a big feature of the team around that time. Gary Johnson liked to keep the game moving, ball boys and girls were expected to give the ball back immediately by operating a ‘multi-ball’ system at Huish Park, there was no time-wasting and the game was kept moving as much as possible. This often gave Yeovil the advantage as it is much easier to attack a team which has not had time to set its defence, and it often caught the opposition out in both the Conference and League Two.

On several occasions this led directly to goals, such as Andy Lindegaard’s first against in-form Morecambe in a very tight game in January 2002 that ended 2-0, the second in the 3-1 win at Rochdale, and the first in the 4-0 home win over Bristol Rovers. Yeovil re-started the game so quickly that the TV cameras often missed goals, including one of their first goals in the Football League at Rochdale. These are the clearest examples but even with corners and throw-ins it gives a huge advantage to attack a team that is not ready. It was noticeable in later years that the Glovers could be quite ponderous coming forward, and no matter how good the players are that you have, if you are slow coming forward then you give the opposition time to line up against you and ensure they are all in formation and marking who they are supposed to mark. Sometimes speed is the best advantage. The quicker you can be, the less prepared the opposition is and the more likely you are to find gaps and force mistakes, which was a big feature of Gary Johnson’s team in the 2002-2005 era.

Team that day: Chris Weale, Roy O’Brien (sub. Adam Lockwood, 60), Terry Skiverton, Colin Pluck, Darren Way, Lee Johnson, Andy Lindegaard (sub. Abdou El Kholti, 65), Michael McIndoe, Gavin Williams, Kirk Jackson, Kevin Gall (sub. Nick Crittenden, 74). Subs not used: Steve Collis, Chris Giles

Yeovil Town 4 Shrewsbury Town 2 – Monday 3rd January 2005

Yeovil’s second year in League Two, 2004/05, was certainly not straightforward and was a rollercoaster of a season. It ended in success, but it was so tight at the top that it sometimes seemed like the Glovers would miss out on promotion altogether as they battled it out with Scunthorpe, Southend, Swansea and Macclesfield for three automatic promotion places.

The New Year’s fixture at home to Shrewsbury encapsulated the entire Yeovil season in one game – early promise, a setback mostly of their own making followed by a flurry of goals and ultimately, victory. You got to experience all the emotions in a very short space of time in 2004/05.

Pre-season optimism was high, having only just missed out on the playoffs by goal difference in their debut season, with a 74 point haul that would see the Glovers comfortably in the playoffs in most if not all previous seasons. In the end, they missed out on goal difference after winning 3-2 at Lincoln, and had the critical game on the last day between Mansfield and Northampton gone any way other than a late Northampton victory, Yeovil would have been in the hat. And that was after an inconsistent season, certainly not without its disappointments and harsh lessons, but still almost ending with the playoffs. If the majority of the team could be kept together with a few key additions then surely a more sustained promotion challenge was certainly a possibility. The obvious deficiencies in the squad – the lack of a 20-goal striker or a dominant target man, a left winger or a left back who wasn’t a centre half playing out of position, were all addressed with the arrivals of Phil Jevons, Bartosz Tarachulski, Adrian Caceres (and later, Andrejs Stolcers) and Michael Rose. Some of our established Conference players like Kirk Jackson, Adam Stansfield, Nick Crittenden and Abdou El Kholti all departed but that seemed to be the manager’s choice – none of the core of the team were swept up by other clubs as Weale, Skiverton, Lockwood, Miles, Way, Johnson, Williams and Gall all remained and we welcomed Scott Guyett, who had just won the Conference with Chester.

Ambitions took a dent in August, as hopes of a first day win in the Greater Manchester area for the second season in a row at Bury (just down the road from the first ever league game, at Rochdale) were squashed despite taking a 1-0 half time lead through Caceres, as Yeovil were brushed aside in the second half thanks mostly to a young striker called David Nugent.

Performances gradually improved, and Yeovil went top of the league in September with a 2-1 win at Shrewsbury, courtesy of goals from Johnson and Tarachulski. Results after that stuttered though, as it was followed by run of six games without a win as the Glovers dropped out of the playoff places into 8th. A 4-1 win at home to Chester signalled another recovery, as Yeovil turned things around slowly at first – a late 1-0 win at Wycombe, a late draw snatched at Darlington – but they eventually gathered momentum and went on a run of 13 wins in 15 league and cup games, including an incredible nine wins in a row in December and January. In this spell, Yeovil could not stop scoring but rarely kept clean sheets either, conceding 19 goals and scoring 41 – more the entirety of the 2007/08 season in just over two months. As momentum increased, there was a sense that no matter how many the opposition scored, Yeovil would just score more, as they went on a run of 3-2, 4-1, 5-3, 2-0, 4-2 and 3-0. In fact in eight of those 15 games, Yeovil had either conceded an equaliser or gone behind. We couldn’t really shut out games, it wasn’t what we did. Over Christmas though we were in an incredible run of goalscoring form – going 1-0 down against Cheltenham but winning 4-1, 2-0 down at Cambridge but scoring five second half goals to win 5-3, and coming back from 2-1 down with ten men against Shrewsbury. Arguably the best result of the lot (and one of the only clean sheets) was the 2-0 win at Swansea on New Year’s Day, in the last game played between the two sides at the Vetch, in front of over 11,000 including around 1,000 Yeovil fans. Swansea had been top earlier in the season and gone into the game in 3rd, but a team containing Lee Trundle, Andy Robinson, Paul Conner and Roberto Martinez could not break through the Glovers’ back line as late goals from Stolcers and Jevons nicked the points. That was possibly the moment that Yeovil really showed their mettle as title contenders, usually free-flowing but also showing that when it really came down to the wire, they could keep it tight if they needed to. They just chose not to most of the time, playing 2-4-4 (or 2-2-6) instead.

Just two days after Swansea came the visit of struggling Shrewsbury, who on paper looked like an easy three points although it did not turn out that way. Darren Way gave the home side the lead with a deflected long range shot in the first half, but all the drama was saved for the second half. Shrewsbury equalised through a debatable penalty in the 64th minute, before Colin Miles was sent off for one of the clearest red cards you will ever see after 72 minutes (surprisingly for his fearsome reputation Miles was only sent off on one other occasion, at Telford in 2002, but he certainly did like to collect yellow cards like they were Panini stickers)

Things went from bad to worse as just two minutes later, a swift Shrewsbury counter-attack saw them take the lead through David Edwards. They could not hold onto their numerical advantage though, as future Glover Luke Rodgers let his team down by tussling with Lindegaard on the touchline, and getting his side reduced to ten men just four minutes after Miles had been sent off. Paul Terry equalised with a header on 78 minutes, and in case you are losing track that’s three goals and two red cards in 14 minutes.

Yeovil were in the ascendency and on 84 minutes took the lead through an Adrian Caceres we’ll be generous and call it ‘shot’, although he possibly didn’t know much about it, Gall’s cross sort of hit him and went in. Although he was not the biggest hit at Yeovil, making only seven league starts before being shipped out on loan in his one and only season, he was in the right place at the right time for a crucial goal. Interestingly, by the time Guyett, Tarachulski and Jevons had been replaced by Reed, Davies and Caceres, Yeovil must have lost a combined two feet in height, and in addition to Lindegaard, Way, Stolcers and Gall already on the pitch probably represented one of the shortest teams of all time, even with Lee Johnson absent. With Miles off, Weale and Skiverton would have been the only players left on the pitch even close to six foot. It’s a good job Shrewsbury didn’t notice that and start lumping balls into the box. In the 89th minute Caceres then turned provider for Kevin Gall to sprint clear and wrap up the points.

Crucially, as good as Yeovil’s Christmas had been, leaders Scunthorpe’s was bad. Seven points clear on 18th December, they gained only two points from their four festive fixtures and Yeovil’s win over Shrewsbury saw them go top of League Two again after seven league wins in a row. On this occasion they would hold on to top spot for much longer, although there was still plenty of drama still to come in the season.

Team that day: Chris Weale, Andy Lindegaard, Terry Skiverton, Scott Guyett (sub. Stephen Reed 66), Colin Miles, Darren Way, Paul Terry, Andrejs Stolcers, Kevin Gall, Bartosz Tarachulski (sub. Adrian Caceres 77), Phil Jevons (sub. Arron Davies 66). Subs not used: Steve Collis, Nicholas Mirza.

 

Yeovil Town 2 Millwall 0 – Friday 10th April 2009

Yeovil legend Terry Skiverton’s first taste of management was something of a trial by fire when Russell Slade suddenly left the club in February 2009. Slade’s Assistant Manager Steve Thompson initially took charge of the team as he had done following the departures of Colin Lippiatt in 1999, David Webb in 2000 and Gary Johnson in 2005 – and being given the ‘permanent’ job on two of those occasions – but following a 3-0 drubbing at Bristol Rovers in his first game, he was relieved of his duties and Skiverton was promoted to Player/Manager.

Russell Slade had perhaps been a victim of his own success – with reputedly the lowest budget in the division, arguably the 2006/07 playoff campaign came as a surprise to absolutely everyone. Following the trip to Wembley though, expectations increased but Slade’s two subsequent seasons were more of a struggle. It was perhaps true of Slade’s Yeovil that when Plan A didn’t work – keep it tight, nick a goal – there wasn’t really a Plan B, and they could be very pedestrian coming forward. In both 2007/08 and 2008/09, Yeovil were comfortably the lowest scoring team in League One, with 38 and 41 goals from a 46-game season. The problem was, after being successful, opposition teams became cautious against Yeovil and were more difficult to break down.

With only one win in the first ten games of 2008/09, the Glovers were hovering around the relegation zone after a disappointing 07/08 which had seen them win only four games in the second half of the season, and the manager’s job was on the line. Despite a run of four wins in a row including 3-1 away at promotion-chasing Peterborough, Slade was sacked in February. It was in at the deep end for Skiverton, with only three points gained from his first eight games including a 5-0 defeat by Slade’s new club, Brighton. He eventually steadied the ship though, bringing in a trio of loanees from Spurs in the form of Jonathan Obika, Andros Townsend and Danny Hutchins, as well as Chris Weale on loan from Bristol City. These new signings gave the team some much needed youth and energy; three of the four made their debuts in the 0-0 draw against MK Dons, which began an unbeaten run of 11 points from five games. The team which had shipped 19 goals in seven games since Slade’s departure, suddenly notched up five clean sheets in a row, culminating in this impressive 2-0 win over Millwall which took them up to 16th. Chris Weale memorably scored in injury time against old rivals Hereford to secure a 2-2 draw and pass the 50 point mark which would see the Glovers safe.

As manager, Skiverton was immediately able to address the most obvious problem, the lack of goals. His team scored 55 in 2009/10 and 56 in 2010/11, without conceding more than Slade’s team had done. He brought in very decent League One strikers such as Dean Bowditch and Andy Williams, as well as Kieran Agard, who while not the biggest star for Yeovil, would go on to prove his quality by scoring 20 goals in a season for both Rotherham and MK Dons.

Skivo had two full seasons in charge, and much of 2011/12 before Gary Johnson returned to the club and he became a deputy again, the role that he holds to this day, almost ten years later. His first full season, 2009/10, was one of the only League One seasons aside from the two play-off campaigns in which Yeovil were fairly comfortable and did not flirt with relegation – despite a lot of (often high scoring) draws, the Glovers were 11th with ten games to go and were never lower than 17th during the season. Although there did seem to be some dissatisfaction on the terraces while he was manager, hopefully history will look on him more kindly – firstly, any manager who keeps Yeovil in League One on the budget we have is a success. Maybe in 2009, which had seen an FA Trophy win, two promotions and a Wembley play-off final in just a few years, it was easy to forget that. But we were not on a level playing field financially with most League Two teams, let alone League One, in which we faced teams like Leeds, Nottingham Forest, Norwich, Charlton and Leicester on a fairly regular basis. Secondly, we scored more goals, signed some very good players and had a more balanced squad than the previous manager had done.

When things were not going so well on the pitch, Skiverton also had the ability to make changes – the dramatic change in form in 2009 which saved Yeovil from relegation was repeated two more times. In both 2010/11 and 2011/12, Yeovil were bottom in mid-season but an improved second half took them up to a more comfortable mid-table position. In 2010, the signing of Paul Wotton and Max Ehmer signalled a dramatic improvement, as a run of two points in eight games was followed by 17 points from the next eight. The season ended on a six-match unbeaten run with the Glovers winning 2-0 at Carlisle and finishing in a very respectable 14th.

Although 2011/12 followed a similar path, with the Yeovil bottom again after only two wins from their first 17 games, it seemed likely that he would be able to turn things around again, but in January 2012 Gary Johnson made a surprise return to the club, winning his first game in charge and picking up nine more that would lift the Glovers up to safety in 17th. This was done mostly with the players Skiverton had assembled, with the addition of two or three loan signings particularly Franks and Grounds down the troublesome left hand side. The following season of course, was a record-breaking one as the Glovers were promoted to the Championship for the first time in their history. Skiverton remained as Assistant Manager, and took temporary charge again following Johnson’s sacking in 2015 but was unable to prevent a second successive relegation, although he remained at the club through the succession of managers that followed where he remains at time of writing, assistant manager to Darren Sarll.

We can also look back at the high quality of signings that Skivo made, including in the loan market – Steven Caulker, Ryan Mason, Dean Bowditch, Andy Williams, Paul Huntington, Luke Freeman, Luke Ayling and Ed Upson. While Shaun MacDonald was initially brought in on loan by Russell Slade, he made most of his appearances for Skiverton, including a memorable hat-trick in the 5-1 win at Leyton Orient. He also brought Gavin Williams and Chris Weale back to the club. One of his first actions was to sign 17 year old Andros Townsend, who now plays regularly in the Premier League as does goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, another Skiverton signing.

A good example of his impact at Yeovil might be the development of players like Luke Ayling and Ed Upson. Ayling signed at just 18 from Arsenal’s reserves. He played about half the games in 2010/11 as he was bedded into the team, first in midfield and later at right back, which he would make his own from 2011-2014 before going on to play in the Premier League for Leeds. Upson also developed over a long period of time to become a key player for Yeovil. Signed after being released by Ipswich at the age of 20, he made a handful of appearances in 2010/11, limited mainly as cover for MacDonald. Over the following two seasons he grew in stature and by 2012/13 he and Ayling would have been two of the first names on the teamsheet of that playoff-winning team. Upson of course scored the goal that took Yeovil to the playoff final, but also scored these against Wycombe, Hereford and Fleetwood among many others. He made the step up to Championship level, scoring the Yeovil’s first Championship goal against Millwall as well as starring in one of the best performances of the season, the 3-1 win at home to Nottingham Forest. It shows what can be done with players with patience and time, as based on their first few appearances and maybe even first full season, I don’t think many people would have pegged Upson or Ayling as future stars, let alone one who would go on to play at the top level.

A lot has happened at Yeovil since Terence John Skiverton arrived as a fresh faced 23 year old from Mile End signed from Welling United by Colin Lippiatt. Three promotions, a Cup Final win, two Wembley appearances and Championship football. His first game was the 5-0 drubbing at Scarborough in August 1999. Although he did not start that game, he did play most games that season, with one highlight being he scored twice in the 5-1 win over Rushden in November. He scored a lot for a centre half because he put his head in where it hurt, getting injured while scoring on more than one occasion as well as playing on with a bandaged head as all good centre halves must do. He scored a number of vital goals including the winner in the 5-4 FA Trophy match at Doncaster, when at 3-0 down all must have seemed lost. He was also top scorer for a time at the beginning of the historic 2002/03 season, scoring in injury time to salvage a point on the first day, an injury time winner at Kettering a couple of weeks later, and celebrating the return to Huish Park with a goal against Woking. My personal favourite memory is probably against Doncaster in 2006, with Yeovil at the wrong end of the table and facing a difficult run-in, he scored an absolute cracker of a volley off the inside of the post which set Yeovil on the way to a comfortable 3-0 victory and probable League One safety. He was dominant in the air but didn’t just score with his head.

After more than 20 years as a player, captain, manager, and many other roles in between, it will be a strange day when Skivo is no longer at Yeovil Town but let’s hope it doesn’t happen for a long time yet.

Team that day: Chris Weale, Danny Hutchins, Nathan Smith, Lee Peltier, Terrell Forbes, Gary Roberts, Keiran Murtagh, Paul Warne, Andros Townsend (sub. Andy Welsh 73), Jonathan Obika, Gavin Tomlin (sub. Luke Rodgers 84). Subs not used: Craig Alcock, Danny Maguire, Danny Schofield