Ciderspace Archive

Yeovil Town are back in action at Huish Park this weekend as they host a struggling Havant & Waterloville.

The Glovers will be thankful for some home comforts after two weekends in row in the county of Kent (try saying that drunk). The Somerset side come into the game after beating a hardy Tonbridge Angel side 2-4. The boys in green will also be looking to avenge a shock defeat by Havant in the reverse fixture at the start of the season.

The Hawks make the trip to south Somerset after having last weekend off due to a game postponement. Havant did win their previous game however 2-1 against Chelmsford City. That win gave the Hampshire outfit their first three points in three games which will have come as some relief for Caretaker manager Cliff de Gordon.

Yeovil Town Team News

Boss Mark Cooper was happy with his sides showing last time out. He said: “We spoke about the need to react. if we lose a game it’s important that we fight back and we did that…there was never any doubt in my mind we wouldn’t fight back.”

Mark Cooper interviewed after Yeovil Town's 4-2 win at Tonbridge Angels
Mark Cooper interviewed after Yeovil Town’s 4-2 win at Tonbridge Angels

The ex-Swindon man had some kind words about Saturdays opponents. He said: “They have their strengths…they’ve got some good players, with the players they’ve gone through this season they shouldn’t be where they are in the league.”

Cooper confirmed that Jordan Stevens “is available for Saturday” after getting a slight knock against Tonbridge. The 54 year-old was disappointed that forward Olly Thomas is out for “three weeks” after getting injured whilst playing for parent club Bristol City. However, he did state “he’s there player at the end of the day” to not upset the apple cart.

Jordan Young is a man on a personal mission this season, having set himself a goal target. He said: “At the start of the season I wasn’t looking at goal targets due to my game time. But  now I’m getting the playing time, I want 20 [goals] I think I’m on 14 now.” 

Young is still one Yellow card away from suspension.

Picture Courtesy of Gary Brown

Havant & Waterlooville Team News

The Hawks have to ex-glovers in their squad that many Yeovil fans will recognise. Midfielder Oscar Gobern, who spent a season at Huish Park now finds himself on the south-coast where he’s been for the last two seasons. A name more familiar for fans will be that of ex-striker Ryan Seager. Seager, who was born and raised in the town, is also now plying his trade in Hampshire after a move from national league side Dorking Wanderers mid-season.

Oscar Gobern
Oscar Gobern playing for Yeovil. Picture courtesy of Mike Kunz

The last time these two teams played, Yeovil were beaten 4-3 in what was a fairly entertaining game, the match also saw Charlie Cooper sent off in added time. Glovers fans will be glad to hear Muhammadu Faal has since left the Hampshire side who netted twice in the reverse fixture. Callum Kealy, who scored the winner that game, however has returned to the club after a brief spell away at Eastbourne Borough.

A player to keep an eye on for home fans is James Roberts, with the forward proving to be one of the Hawks most prolific attackers scoring six goals so far this season.

Yeovil Town have made three changes as they search for their first National League win of the season against Dagenham & Redbridge today (3pm kick-off).

Ben Richards-Everton is back in the starting XI after recovering from a knee injury which has kept him out since the opening day and young Exeter City loanee Alfie Pond are named in defence with Max Hunt and Chiori Johnson dropping to the bench.

Gime Toure, who scored his first goal in the 2-2 draw at Altrincham last weekend, replaces Charlie Wakefield who drops out of the squad, presumably through injury.

New signings striker Jake Scrimshaw and defender Callum Rowe are on the bench which features no goalkeeper with Will Buse dropping out.

Yeovil Town: Grant Smith, Morgan Williams, Alfie Pond, Ben Richards-Everton, Josh Staunton, Jamie Reckord, Matt Worthington, Lawson D’Ath, Gime Toure,Alex Fisher, Malachi Linton. Substitutes: Callum Rowe, Max Hunt, Chiori Johnson, Sam Perry, Jake Scrimshaw.

Dagenham & Redbridge: Justham, Hare, Onariase, Longe-King, Weston, Tavares, Robinson, Sagaf, Ling, McCallum, Walker. Substitutes: Strizovic, Mussa, Zouma, Vilhete, Morias.

Lawson D’Ath and Chiori Johnson have been handed their first starts of the season at Altrincham (3pm kick-off).

They replace on loan winger Sam Pearson, who was suffering a back injury following the midweek defeat to Barnet, and Sam Perry, who drops to the bench.

Charlie Wakefield is set to start in a more advanced position with Johnson taking over at right wing-back.

On loan Bolton Wanderers striker Matt Grivosti is on the bench.


Yeovil Town: Grant Smith, Chiori Johnson, Morgan Williams, Max Hunt, Josh Staunton, Jamie Reckord, Charlie Wakefield, Matt Worthington, Lawson D’Ath, Alex Fisher, Malachi Linton. Substitutes: Buse, Pond, Perry, Toure, Grivosti.

Yeovil Town have named an unchanged squad for the visit of Barnet to Huish Park tonight (7.45pm kick-off).

Striker Malachi Linton will be looking to add to the first goal of the season he got in spectacular fashion in the 1-1 draw with Wrexham at the weekend, and he is again paired alongside Alex Fisher.

New signing Gime Toure remains on the substitutes’ bench having impressed when he came on against the Welshmen.

Barnet are also unchanged from their 2-2 draw at newly-promoted Gateshead at the weekend with former Glovers’ midfielder Dale Gorman continuing with the captain’s armband.

Another ex-player Connor Smith is among the visitors’ substitutes whilst Sean Shields scored early for W*ymouth when they held Yeovil to a 1-1 draw at Huish Park in February, three months before he was part of the side which was relegated.

Yeovil Town: Grant Smith, Morgan Williams, Max Hunt, Josh Staunton, Jamie Reckord, Charlie Wakefield, Sam Perry, Matt Worthington, Sam Pearson, Alex Fisher, Malachi Linton. Substitutes: Buse, Johnson, Pond, Toure, D’Ath.

Barnet: Walker, Wynter, Collinge, Okimo, Beard, Gorman, Pritchard,. De Havilland, Mason-Clark, Kabama, Shields Substitutes: Callan, Thokmas, Phillips, Smith, Hall.

Winger Sam Pearson is handed his first start since joining Yeovil Town on loan as they face title favourites Wrexham in the opening league fixture at Huish Park (3pm kick-off).

In what could be either a 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 formation, the Bristol City youngster replaces centre half Ben Richards-Everton who is not in the squad and understood to be injured.

Recent arrivals Gime (pronounced ‘Jimmy’ we’re told) Toure and defender Alfie Pond are both named on the bench alongside Lawson D’Ath, Chiori Johnson and goalkeeper Will Buse.

For the visitors, summer signings Elliot Lee and Jacob Mendy both come in come off the bench in the opening day win over Eastleigh last weekend.

Lee, who scored twice seven days ago to earn his new side a win, is paired alongside Paul Mullin and Ollie Palmer in what can only be described as a ridiculously talented front three at this year.

Yeovil Town: Grant Smith, Morgan Williams, Max Hunt, Josh Staunton, Jamie Reckord, Charlie Wakefield, Sam Perry, Matt Worthington, Sam Pearson, Alex Fisher, Malachi Linton. Substitutes: Buse, Johnson, Pond, Toure, D’Ath.

Wrexham: Howard, Forde, Hayden, Tozer, Cleworth, Mendy, J.Davies, Young, Lee, Mullin, Palmer. Substitutes: Watson, Hosannah, Tunnicliffe, J.Jones, Dalby.

Chris Hargreaves has named his first National League side of the season to face Scunthorpe United with a side that probably picked itself.

There are debuts for Ben Richards-Everton, Sam Perry, Jamie Reckord, Malachi Linton and Alex Fisher (again) and a very youthful looking bench of loanees and Chiori Johnson.

It looks like Charlie Wakefield and Reckord start at wingbacks with a back three of Richards-Everton, Morgan Williams and Max Hunt.

Grant Smith, Morgan Williams, Max Hunt, Ben Richards-Everton, Charlie Wakefield, Sam Perry, Josh Staunton, Matt Worthington, Jamie Reckord, Alex Fisher, Malachi Linton

Substitutes: Buse, Johnson, Craske, Pearson, Grivosti

In a continued attempt to save some of the history of the great, we have salvaged a trio of book reviews from the archive and are pleased to present them here.
These were last updated on the Ciderspace in around 2004, 2006 & 2008 respectivley..

Behind The Green Door, by Brendon Owen – First Stone Publishers – £9.99

Brendon Owen is a football fan. More importantly, Brendon Owen is a Yeovil Town fan. One hundred and eight years of non-league football came to an end for Yeovil Town in 2003 and the Championship season was captured brilliantly by Brendon’s first book ‘Yeovil ‘til I die’.

That momentous season was catalogued in a bright and breezy style that we could all relate to. With ‘Behind the green door’ Brendon carries on the story, which has now moved to more illustrious venues with the KC Stadium, McAlpine Stadium and Reynolds Arena replacing Cherrywood Road, The Lawn and Edgar Street.

The book starts with the arguments about the change of shirt design to hoops for our inaugural league season. Remember them? I’d almost forgotten just how heated the arguments were. Now, twelve months on it seems the most natural thing in the world to see the lads in the green and white hoops. It moves on to describe the turmoil in the camp caused by Michael McIndoe’s wish to move to a bigger club. The reader is left in no doubt as to Brendon’s feelings in this matter!

Brendon had to miss the first game at Rochdale as his son was getting married on the same day. Radio Five Live picked up on this and phoned him that morning to ask about the fan that was left behind! Brendon managed to keep up with events at Spotland with the help of his mobile phone and was able to enjoy a double celebration that day.

For this season, Brendon had been given access behind the scenes and is able to shed some light on the activities at the club between matches. He was also invited to travel with the team to an away match and this was duly arranged for the teams’ league fixture at Belle Vue against the play-off promoted Doncaster Rovers. As most of us would agree, this was like an early Christmas present to Brendon and even a fairly serious fall at home the night before travelling was not going to stop the intrepid author joining the team. It was interesting to find that the team apparently stayed overnight at the same hotel that McIndoe was staying at! In retrospect, travelling with the team is a brave thing to do. What if you sit in the wrong seat? What if the team suffer their heaviest defeat for years when you accompany them? And possibly worst of all, if the team lose, where do you look for the entire journey home?

As we now know, a Supergav goal won the game that night and Brendon’s worries were over.

The book continues to chronicle the season interspersed with stories from Brendon’s day-to-day life. It is this aspect which makes the book so readable and personal. It’s reassuring to know that we are not alone in following some of our rituals in our own attempts to help the cause. The camaraderie and friendship that following a football team creates is there for all to see in the pages of this book. We all know it exists. We all try to explain it to our non-footballing friends. Supporting your team is a tribal thing and it’s difficult for someone who hasn’t experienced this to understand. If you’re having trouble convincing someone of the merits of football supporting then give him or her a copy of this book and tell them to read it. They will soon understand!

The season’s high and low points are all here with understandably more than a few pages written about the Liverpool game. I’m pleased to learn that I’m not the only one who felt a little jealous of the poor souls who queued overnight for tickets and enjoyed an unforgettable experience. I’d forgotten the fire, which created so many problems for the club immediately before the match tickets went on sale.

Of course, the Liverpool match didn’t end up as we all wished and indeed you could say the same for the season as a whole. The book does remind me however, of the sheer fun that we had for our first season in the league, even the defeats.

For those who know the format of the first book, the second is very similar but with over 170 pages of text this time the second book is somewhat longer. With some excellent photographs from Nigel Andrews and an appendix which includes statistics from the season’s games it is a must buy for every Yeovil fan.

I like sports books. I especially like books about football and feel that we are privileged to have two excellent books from Brendon, which mean so much to us all personally about our team. I’m also not a quick reader. I can’t be doing with this scan reading, I have to hear each and every word in my head as I read.

I bought Brendon’s book and sat down to read it. I finished it at 2am the following morning, read all in one sitting and I knew the ending!!!!

I can give it no higher praise than that.

Don Gibson


Around The World With Yeovil Town, by Michael Bromfield – Tempus Publishing – £12.99
Not many shy retiring types become millionaires, the likes of Jon Goddard-Watts or the Barclay brothers excepted. And the author of Around The World With Yeovil Town, Michael Bromfield, isn’t one of those exceptions that proves the rule.

Book reviews don’t generally concentrate on the author, but this book is very much about Bromfield, with Yeovil Town, and indeed much of the rest of the World, a backdrop. Amidst the ‘if it’s Thursday it must be Timbuktu’ one learns a lot about Michael. Perhaps more than he intended; and, for the more private amongst us, more than maybe we’d feel comfortable revealing. Refreshing openness, or overweening egotism? One’s view of Michael gleaned from these pages will, to a large measure, determine whether one enjoys this book or not.

Written and dictated every few days over the 2004-05 football season the source material ran to over 600,000 words – longer than Lord of the Rings, as Bromfield charmingly admits one publisher’s rejection letter pointed out. The finished product runs to a more realistic 256 pages. Outside of some introductory and concluding material the structure of the book is based around the sequence of matches played by Yeovil throughout their second season in the Football League, each one providing a ‘chapter’.

The book crosses over two potential, and crowded, markets: Football Fan Writes About, and Travel Writing. Amazon chooses to reference it under ‘Sports, Hobbies & Games’ rather than ‘Travel & Holiday’. However both markets have produced a certain genre, and are linked by a common factor. Whether the work provides the reader with a feel, be it for the experience of the club, its season and being a fan in the former, or for the places and people in the latter, determines the success or otherwise of the writing. So does Around The World With Yeovil Town have ‘feel’?

This question brings us back to the author, again. There’s too much Bromfield, particularly on the travel side of the book. I didn’t get much of a feel for the places Michael visited. Argentina was best, perhaps because this was new to the author, and seen and recorded through fresh eyes. Of the people he came across one only gets glimpses, often tantalising glimpses that leave you thirsting to know more about them. This thirst is rarely quenched, because potential stars in the making are generally only accorded the role of extras in the book.

On the football side the book works better. Firstly there’s the variety between the fifteen games Michael was in this country to see, and those recorded as secondhand experiences in distant climes. He was extraordinarily lucky too, his visits home coinciding with many of the classic matches of the season. Football is all about opinions, as the cliché goes, and when reporting on games, players and giving his views the author may not have much that’s particularly original to say, but most of what he expounds is sensible. Or, to put it another way, there wasn’t too much this reviewer disagreed with. There are some insightful comments of a wider nature too, though again more of the sort where other fans will tend to say : ‘Yep, fair shout’; rather than : ‘Wow, I’d never thought of it in that way before’.

Of the matches Bromfield didn’t attend, which is of course the main theme of the book, there are only so many different ways one can record making or taking a phone call, or logging onto the Internet, even if it is from various parts of the planet. It’s now possible to say that’s less than thirty-nine.

So, is this book worth buying? It depends who you are. As someone who had followed the season closely and seen all but two matches, and who has read it when that campaign is still fresh in the mind, it didn’t offer enough surprises. There could be more value coming to it in a year or two when the memories have dimmed and need refreshing. For those Yeovil fans who couldn’t get to so many games it can be recommended as a solid account, from an unusual perspective, of a great season and time in the club’s history. For the football rather than the Yeovil fan, looking for a read relating to a team other than their own, there are alternatives out there with more of that ‘feel’ factor.

In the final analysis, if you come away from it rather liking the author you’ll have rather liked the book. Despite qualms about its literary qualities – one definite recommendation, should there ever be a sequel, is to leave SHIFT resolutely alone when using the ‘1/!’ key – this reviewer did indeed come away rather liking Michael Bromfield.

Hugh Gleave.


Birth of the Giant-killers, by various contributors – JLH Design – £6.99

It is unlikely any fan of the Glovers will not know that January 2009 sees the Diamond Anniversary of what still remains the most famous, if no longer the most important, match played by Yeovil Town F.C. Although the FA Cup may not be the huge draw it once was, it still remains the case that since the introduction of exemption to Round Three Proper for leading clubs in 1925 on only six occasions has a Non-league side knocked out a team from the highest division. Yeovil’s achievement remains unique in that all other instances, by Colchester United, Hereford United, Wimbledon, Altrincham and Sutton United, came in the Third Round, while the Glovers made their greatest mark in FA Cup folklore in the Fourth.

As part of its celebration sixty years on of the victory over Sunderland, the club has produced a book subtitled ‘A tribute to Yeovil Town Football Club’s historic achievements in the 1948/49 FA Cup’. So, is it a fitting tribute, and has it captured the essence of that momentous event in the club’s history?

It is a very thin publication, and even the claimed sixty pages is rather over egging the pudding. While common enough to include the covers in the page numbering sequence in football programmes this is not the usual practice with books. Inside, eight pages are taken up by advertising. The core of the book is a series of articles and the photographs. The producers of the work were fortunate enough to track down the last surviving member of the 1948-49 team, Victor ‘Dickie’ Dyke, just days before he too passed on, and understandably have built the resulting interview and photos from Dickie’s own scrapbook into the main component of the book. It captures well a completely unassuming and essentially very private man a little bemused that anyone would remain interested in what he had achieved sixty years before. Martin McConachie follows up the feature on Dyke with brief thumbnails on all eleven Yeovil players in the Sunderland game.

The other articles are from: John Lukins on Alec Stock; Dorset Echo journalist Chris Spittles, who covers the matches in the 1948-49 cup run in some detail, and provides a brief trot through all Yeovil’s other giant-killing exploits; the reminiscences of three there that day, Bryan Moore, later a chairman of the club, player’s wife Audrey Hamilton and supporter Gerald Isaacs; and finally the opposition’s perspective on the tie from Winston Young who is the Secretary of the Sunderland Former Players Association. Of these, Bryan has written better elsewhere on the game, notably in the programme of 25th July 1998 for the friendly against Sunderland, though the paragraph on his first kiss as a twelve-year-old from a woman other than his mother as the final whistle went, and remembered all these years, is touching. The piece from Mr Isaacs is an interesting inclusion. A self admitted occasional follower of the Glovers, it reminds us that so were the vast majority of the home support there that day. Such matches accrue their own mystique, and with hindsight claims of undying loyalty are easily scattered about, but in reality most ‘fans’ in such Non-league v Big Club events are there because of who the opposition is, and the club’s support rapidly dwindles back to more normal figures once the glamour tie is over. The contributions of Audrey Hamilton and Winston Young stand out as providing a different perspective and some of the essence of what makes some football matches so much more than what happened in 90, or in this case 120, minutes on the pitch. Audrey’s inaccurate recall of the game itself – Stock did not score the winning goal – matters naught, as it is the peripheral colour and memories that turn a result in the record books into a legend, and hers are simply but poignantly described. Winston Young’s piece is an excellent evocation of the trauma and downright humiliation of being on the losing end of such an event, and how it haunts supporters for years every time it crops up again in conversation or the media.

The articles are interspersed with pages carrying reproductions of clippings from the time out of newspapers. These are a welcome addition, providing the immediacy of reporting that no subsequent recollections can, influenced as the latter are bound to be by hindsight and the layers of myth that build up and eventually supersede reality as the years advance. It would have been good to see the original publications from which they originated recorded though, but perhaps that’s the historian and a dedication to the itemising of primary source material in the reviewer showing through.

So, back to the original questions. Is it a fitting tribute? Though the contributions are uneven in quality, the book does strike, whether by accident or design, the right balance between historical reality, the accumulated legend and panegyric. Though some passages do teeter on the brink, there’s enough that avoids the trap of cloying sentimentality to maintain it as a worthwhile record, and quite a few of the photos are unfamiliar. The essence of how and why football provides memorable moments in so many people’s lives does shine through. At £6.99 the price, however, is steep for the amount of content. Given all the contributions, and one should have hoped the work of JLH Design, would have been provided without cost, and that 13% of the publication is advertisements, one trusts that all the somewhat excessive mark up is heading into our club’s coffers.

Hugh Gleave.


Yeovil Town club captain Francois Zoko has blamed the uncertainty of the club’s takeover situation as being at the heart of the club’s fall out of the Football League. The outgoing striker has expanded on views he gave earlier this month in an interview with the Western Daily Press, where he feels the playing squad were much too exposed to the takeover issues surrrounding American businessman Rob Couhig‘s failed plans to assume control at Huish Park.

In particular, Zoko was highly critical of Yeovil Town’s Football Advisor Mark Palmer – a man initially recruited by current owner Norman Hayward to advise him on the future of the football club. Palmer initially came in during the latter part of 2017, and into early 2018, when club Director Andy Rossiter was attempting his own takeover – something that appeared to dissolve after the club gained an unexpected cash windfall in the form of an FA Cup Fourth Round tie against Manchester United.

Palmer was understood to have left the building during the latter part of the 2017-18 season, but was spotted back at Huish Park on December 8th 2018 for the home match against Forest Green Rovers. On this occasion, the lines seemed to be rather more blurred. Whilst initially he was returning as Hayward’s Football Advisor, it also transpired by February 2019, that Palmer was to become Couhig’s Chief Executive under the new organisation – an appointment that was never realised when the takeover plans collapsed earlier this month.

Zoko told the paper that he was aware of Palmer’s involvement back at the club during November 2018, and said that the Football Advisor was directly engaging with the club’s first team players, even to the point of entering the dressing room. He felt that was crossing a line that ‘office’ people should never do:

I felt it from the start. When we were speaking to someone who wanted to take over at the club, as soon as they stepped in and crossed the line the club got worse and worse. From November, Mark Palmer was there and they ruined the club. That’s it. You have an office and dressing room. When someone from the office, like Palmer, crosses the line and comes into the dressing room speaking to players, promising things, you’re kiling it.”

Zoko felt that the levels of uncertainty at the club got into the dressing room. He said his concern was that the situation was still unresolved – both at management and ownership level – and had barbed words for the way that Palmer had sowed those seeds:

I think the mistake was that they (Mark Palmer) don’t know the professional world of football and how it works. They stepped in and did exactly what you shouldn’t do. This is my own opinion on the situation. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think so. Uncertainty is the worst thing that can happen at a football club. Yeovil have had that for many long months and uncertainty is killing the club. They’re still in it. Todsay we are still talking about the same things we were talking about a few months ago. This is what is shocking me. It scares me for next year.”

Zoko said he remained neutral on the subject of sacking first team manager Darren Way – a decision made by the current Yeovil Town Board at the end of March 2019, following a defeat against Milton Keynes Dons. However, he added that he felt the Caretaker Manager appointment of Neale Marmon was the wrong choice, saying that the nature of it, and Marmon’s plans to move ‘upstairs’ at the end of that season into a Sporting Director role under the new ownership extended the levels of uncertainty at the club. He felt the club needed to make a bigger decision than that in order to stay up:

If you sack Darren, you sack him – it’s the club’s decision. The players respect that. You like it; you don’t like it – football is not personal. You have a job to do. We needed to win games to stay in the League. Neale (Marmon) is a very kind and nice man but we’re talking about one of the hardest and most ruthless leagues in English football. It’s not his fault. At that moment we needed certainty. You can’t build anything on uncertainty and that was the case this year.”

Although he has now officially been released from the club, Zoko revealed that his original intention had been to remain at the club as a coach, gradually moving from his position as a player into an off-the-field role within the club. The 35 year old has recently taken two coaching badges and has gained an FA Youth Award as well as an FA Level 3 (UEFA B) in Coaching Football. At present it would appear that he will have to look elsewhere to put that into practice, although doesn’t plan on retiring from the playing side at this stage.

When Yeovil Town F.C. moved to their current ground, Huish Park, in August 1990, supporters assumed that the two open terraces that were at the two ends of the ground would eventually be covered. At the time, the message being spread by club officials was that the lack of a roof was merely only a temporary measure and that it had been a compromise taken in order to ensure that the ground could be opened for the start of the new season. As a sweetener to supporters, the Bartlett Stand was priced the same as the terraces and transfer was permitted between the two areas of the ground, allowing supporters to be protected from the elements if the weather turned bad mid-game. If you look at photographs in the early days of Huish Park it is amazing how many few people stood on the terraces, compared with those that do so now.

Over the passing of time, several events changed the situation for the club. Firstly, the club’s financial troubles as a consequence of the ground move made the building of the roof an impossibility. The supporters tolerated this without question as saving the club was far more important at the time.

As the club moved out of its financial troubles, difference pricing structures made the Bartlett Stand more pricey, and at the end of the 1995/96 season the club stopped supporters being able to change ends at half time or in bad weather. The official reason given was that new safety regulations depended on the four areas of the ground being sectionalised, although fighting between rival supporters on the last day of that season surely was a factor here.

So the terrace supporters were unable to move from their open terraced area, and this coincided with a drop in atmosphere in the ground, particularly when the home team attacked the “away” end, and led to significant drops in crowd figures during bad weather as supporters could no longer transfer to the stand.

With the club now more or less stabilised, and the terraces still proving popular amongst fans, dissatisfaction began to rise about the facilities at Huish Park and and above all the lack of a roof, putting pressure on the current board to take action.

In 1999, the current chairman John Fry, took notice of the situation by applying to the Football Trust for a grant for various enhancements to the stadium, including the covering of one of the terraces. The grant obtained some sort of approval but on the condition that the club had to contribute 30% – 40% of the cost of the roof. The club were unable to do this, and the Football Trust told them to concentrate on issues that they believed to be more geared towards health and safety. A roof was considered to be a luxury, not a necessity.

The media exposure of the Football Trust grant had provoked such interest amongst supporters that it clearly was not going to lie down. Supporters, in particular a group of regular fans known as the Away Day Lads (who Ciderspace will feature in the future) pressurised the board, and although the board were not prepared to contribute financially at this stage, they did agree that they would give their public backing to a fund-raising campaign if it was set up by supporters.

So, on Thursday 15th April 1999 an inaugral meeting was held at Huish Park where a committee was formed to drive the fund-raising and to give the campaign a public profile.

At this stage it is unclear as to exactly how much would need to be raised in order to build a roof over Huish Park. This is down to several factors.

Firstly, with construction engineering materials and costs volatile over time, it will be difficult to put an exact price on the cost of the roof until the fund-raising gets to a certain stage. Secondly, with certain Yeovil Town board members also being directors of building and construction companies, it is feasible that the building of the roof could be financed at a lower cost, although there has been no formal commitment by any directors so far to such a thing. Thirdly, it is unclear as to whether planning permission currently exists in order to build a roof. Planning permission has been sought in the past, but generally expires if the building is not commenced. This should not stop the building work, but may affect what sort of roof will be permissible once planning permission is obtained.

With all that in mind, in an interview between Martin Baker and John Fry in the Yeovil Town programme in April 1999 (details of which will be published in Ciderspace shortly) two figures were talked about. The first figure, 88,000 pounds, assumed that the roof could be built as a “self-help” project, at cost price, with help from various Yeovil Town directors’ companies. The second figure, which the Roof Committee are aiming at, is 150,000 pounds. That figure may well change by the time that sum is raised, and was for an “up and over” covering without corners being filled in and without seating being put into the terraced end.

And so the fund-raising began ……

This post is from the Ciderspace Archives from 3rd June 2000.

When the club announced that we were to go full-time there were mixed reactions, but Ciderspace believes most saw it as a positive step forward. Going full time is certainly the trend being set by some of the more ambitious clubs in the Conference.

With promotion to and relegation from the League now a regular feature, and with the possibility of two or more up and down each season in the future, the number of fully professional teams in the Conference is only likely to increase.

Whilst understanding that this was a huge and radical step that would entail re-building and restructuring the club the majority of fans were probably prepared to go with the “no gain without pain” concept. The clear impression given by chairman John Fry was that the club had been thinking along these lines for some time and that the arrival of the new manager, David Webb, was simply the catalyst that put it in motion.

At the same time many fans felt that the publishing of plans for the new terrace roof (and the granting of planning permission) symbolised the forward progression of Yeovil Town into the new Millennium.

On the 4th of April the chairman John Fry went on YDR FM and stated, as part of a reply to a phone-in question, that the budget for the 1999-2000 season had been based on a figure of 3,500 average crowds. He said that the budget when the team went full-time next season would not be a great deal more than that.

The only surprise was the first part; no one could presumably have thought it likely Yeovil Town would average 3,500 over a whole season even if the club had managed to challenge for the title right to the end. Does this imply that the club has a problematic deficit that it is carrying forward?

The second part, that the next budget would be a little more, seemed reasonable (if tight, given the almost inevitable extra costs of full-time football) and tied in with the impression that had been given in previous press releases and interviews, including one conducted the day after David Webb’s appointment on the club’s Official Site.

A month later in the 4th of May edition of the Western Gazette, as part of an extensive series of comments including the position of the reserve side and a family enclosure, John Fry announced a new Three Year Plan. He said: “We have a Three Year Plan with a 1st June start date. We have a massive job to restructure the club for going full-time and developing the stadium.”

He was also reported as saying that the budget would be based on an average attendance of 1,800. The Western Gazette, in its inimitable style, completely missed the crucial import of this statement and chose to headline a supposed threat to watching the reserves!

In the four weeks that have passed no statement of any sort has emanated from Huish Park to refute this new position, or claim a misunderstanding: that the budgeting for the forthcoming season would be based on average attendances of just 1,800 and therefore the implication that the budget Mr Webb was working to was significantly lower than last season. Not only is this surprising when the increased costs of full time football are considered; it also heavily contradicts several statements made by Mr Fry in the past.

Alarm bells began to ring. Subsequently sources from within the club have suggested what this might mean in actual monetary terms. The budget set for the season 1999-2000 is claimed by these sources to have been around £350,000. This original budget was exceeded – Mr Fry has stated in public that this happened before Colin Lippiatt’s departure.

The budget for the season 2000-01 has, according to those same sources, been set at around £200,000. The proportions of these figures correspond closely to what one would expect from budgets based on 3,500 and 1,800 crowds given the rise in ticket prices across the two years.

Other circumstantial but telling evidence that has accumulated over the past several months supports the contention that the budget in ominously small. Ciderspace does not wish to publicly discuss the financial affairs of individuals but we will assert:

  • A number of higher-earning players would have been more than happy to discuss going full-time. They were not given the opportunity. In one case in particular, the club chose to give the impression that it was the player who was not interested in full-time football. That player has publicly denied that.
  • Several players whom the club wished/wishes to retain found that the money they were offered was no more than they were receiving part-time. Some signed, some didn’t.
  • A valued player would have gone full-time for what we consider to be a very modest recompense, hugely below what he would be giving up in alternative income. It became clear in negotiations that the money was not available.
  • Ciderspace has been led to believe that the sums quoted in The Clarion 2000 on April 19th as being offered to the younger players (150 pounds per week) are in fact pretty accurate despite many of us having a good laugh at Fat Harry’s expense at the time.
  • Dave Webb originally targeted five or six new players, and it was hoped to move for them quickly before the manager departed on holiday. There appears to have been little success on this front and the talk is now of half that number.

Unfortunately whilst the chairman is away no one seems to have been delegated to speak for the club. Manager David Webb also departs on holiday this weekend, and more than one journalist has told us they are finding it increasingly difficult to persuade him to speak to the media. Huish Park is therefore virtually “closed” as far as communication with the media is concerned.

What is left is leaks and rumour. One such rumour that has materialised recently, is that David Webb is no longer comfortable with the allocated budget Claims by the chairman in the past have suggested that he had agreed it, so if this is true, there must be a reason for the change of heart.

Despite being a man who keeps a tight lid on his transfer activities, names have been disclosed by various means, yet none have reached fruition. With Dave Webb now on a two or three week holiday, it seems unlikely that any dealings will take place until he returns. By that time we will be just a fortnight before pre-season training starts.

Leaving aside the number of young and inexperienced players and how they will cope with being thrust into the front line for an entire season, there is no cover in a whole host of positions. The cream of players who were in the Reserves last season have already been promoted to the first team, so there is little visible scope for recruitment from within.

One prominent person on the Huish Park payroll has recently told Ciderspace he is concerned that we may be building a squad of players fit for relegation, not promotion. Young players are inclined to be far more vulnerable to dents in team morale, and lets not forget that the Huish Park crowd are hardly the best for supporting their team through the bad times – that’s where experienced players can help the youngsters ride the storm.

Having a youthful team can act as a good investment for the future, and that is what we hope Yeovil Town Football Club invests in. However, being forced to over-do the “youth” factor, due to budget constraints, could have the same consequences as asking a group of university economics students to run the government. They might know the theory, but when problems arrive, do they have the support of more experienced people that will help them get themselves out of trouble? But what if Dave Webb can’t afford to get those people in?

Ciderspace feels that there is a huge amount of disquiet amongst officials, employees, players and supporters alike at the way things appear to be going. The issue of the budget needs to be addressed.

If the assertions above, which stem from a reported statement from the chairman made a month ago, are erroneous then the club should quickly make that clear.

If the above assertions are close to the truth, then the chairman, board and manager should talk as soon as possible and frankly appraise whether these projections are in fact realistic, and can meet the requirements of sustaining a full-time team that will survive in the Conference. And once they have reached a way forward, then it should be made clear to all concerned.

June is the month when many season tickets are bought. How many people are delaying their renewals because they don’t know what sort of a team they will watch next season?

We are into the third day of the Three Year Plan. We would like to have faith in it. Knowing what it actually is would be a good start. At the moment all the supporters of Yeovil Town Football Club perceive is an apparent gap between aspiration and reality.