Blackpool 0 Yeovil Town 1 – Sunday 10th December 2000

Tony Pennock will be fondly remembered by many Yeovil fans as the long-standing goalkeeper who was ever-present through years of recovery from Isthmian League winners, to consolidation in the Conference and finally Conference title challengers. Tony’s time was certainly one of great change, and he played for five different managers in two divisions. The team that he ended his time at the club with, narrowly missing out on promotion to the Football League under Colin Addison in 2001, was very different to the one Graham Roberts put together to challenge for honours in the Isthmian League (then sponsored by the unfortunately named ICIS) in 1995.

During Tony’s time, Yeovil missed out on promotion to the Conference in 1995/96, and then won the Isthmian League with 101 points following an epic battle with Enfield the following year. Yeovil became established under Graham Roberts, and then moved towards the top end of the Conference under Colin Lippiatt, enjoying an FA Cup run to the Third Round in 1998/1999. Unfortunately, Tony’s mistake in extra time of the replay in rolling the ball out too far was seized upon by Kevin Nugent to score the winner in the most cruel of circumstances. However I don’t think any Yeovil fans held that against him, and it was soon forgotten – as heartbreaking as that late goal was, the fact is that mistakes happen to every goalkeeper and sometimes they happen at critical moments, there is not one keeper who has not made a mistake which has cost a match. In the wider scheme of things Tony had been in good form and saved his defence on a great many occasions. He certainly developed enormously while at Yeovil – despite some league experience with Wigan and Hereford, continuing that prestigious line of players who have turned out for the Bulls before moving to Yeovil, he was still only 24 when he joined us and improved greatly during his time at the club. Not the tallest of keepers, he was always very agile and a great shot-stopper. However, especially in that first Conference season, he was perhaps prone to rushing off his line and would occasionally get lobbed for opposition goals. He was very quick off his line in this game against Morecambe, although that could be put down to the chaos going on in front of him, with all four defenders other than Rob Cousins either on debut, or only very recently arrived. In time, he did learn to control those instincts and become a better judge of when to come for a ball and when to stay at home, becoming a great keeper as a result.

Tony was certainly not afraid of the limelight, and enjoyed the attention and adulation of the fans. On the last day of the season in 1996/97 as Yeovil celebrated their return to the Conference, he memorably took (and scored) a penalty in the 4-0 home win over Chertsey Town. In the FA Cup run of 1998/99, the replay against West Auckland went to extra time and penalties, during which he saved a penalty and then scored the next one as Yeovil won the shoot-out to secure a tie against Second Division Northampton.

When the club turned full-time in 1999/2000 there was another exodus as many who were not willing or able to turn full-time were allowed to leave. Established players like Kevan Brown, Rob Cousins, Jamie Pitman, Matt Hayfield and Adrian Foster left the club and youngsters promoted from the reserves took their place. David Webb’s Yeovil took on a much more youthful look, as the likes of Anthony Tonkin, Andy Lindegaard and James Bent made their debuts while still teenagers. Although there seemed to be a fairly hard line taken as quality players were allowed to leave if they could not turn full time, exceptions were made for only three who were allowed to stay on in a part-time capacity – Warren Patmore, David Piper and Tony Pennock. Pennock and Patmore became the senior players of that very youthful side, as the only two men in the squad over 25. This showed the value those three in particular had to the team, as despite the undoubted quality of some of the departures, David Webb was able to make an exception for someone like Tony Pennock, and he was not a man known for his flexibility.

Despite the youth and inexperience of that side under David Webb, and later Colin Addision after Webb’s sudden departure, the young Glovers squad gave Rushden a run for their money in 2000/01 and went on a successful FA Cup run. Wins over Division Two Colchester and Division Three Blackpool led to an away tie at First Division (now Championship) Bolton, and a very late narrow defeat. Pennock played his part in keeping Yeovil in that one until very late, as well.

The second round tie at Blackpool was live on Sky, and would probably have been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch had the TV cameras not been present. Despite the atrocious conditions, the 1200 or so travelling Yeovil fans were buoyant throughout and were treated to an excellent performance from Pennock in particular, which was far more the Tony they knew than the Cardiff game had been. He was quite rightly recognised as man of the match by both fans and TV commentators.

The win over Blackpool was Yeovil’s 20th scalp as a non-league club, an FA Cup record which stands to this day.

Tony left along with a number of other out of contract players while Yeovil were without a manager in the summer of 2001, as the club had neglected to discuss new contracts during the season and would not offer extensions until a new manager was appointed. Sadly some of our best and longest serving players in Pennock, Patmore and Smith were able to sign for League clubs for no transfer fee, taking with them a huge amount of experience that it would take some time to replace. Goalscoring legend Warren Patmore in particular, arrived at Yeovil in the same summer as Pennock, they also left at the same time (for the same club). For around six years, Pennock and Patmore would have been the first names on the team sheet and played together almost 300 times.

After leaving Yeovil, Tony spent a brief time at Rushden and Diamonds where Brian Talbot showed his managerial know-how by keeping him on the bench behind Billy Turley. He soon moved back to the Conference with Farnborough, where he encountered another managerial ‘character’ in the form of Graham Westley, although he remained with the Hampshire side when Westley took the money from a lucrative FA Cup run and half the squad with him when he moved to Stevenage in 2003. As much as I would hate to question the man’s professionalism, I felt he could possibly have done better with some of the goals when Yeovil won 4-2 away at Farnborough on their way to the Conference title in 2003. The relationship with the away fans that day was still good despite his move to Rushden and I am sure it filled him with pride to see former team-mates such as Way, Skiverton, Crittenden and McIndoe find the success they narrowly missed out on two years before, not to mention his understudy Chris Weale in goal. Weale had made a couple of appearances in Pennock’s absence having only just turned 19 in 2001. Following Farnborough’s relegation, Tony played and then managed in Wales for a few years, before moving to Hull City as a goalkeeping coach.

Tony will always be well-regarded by anyone who saw him play, there was always good humour between him and the fans when we came up against him, which we did several times when playing for Farnborough in 2002 and 2003. He was virtually ever-present in goal from the time he arrived in 1995 to his departure in 2001, playing over 300 times, keeping around 100 clean sheets and scoring one goal (not including penalty shoot-outs).

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