Sunday, 29 December 2013

Huddersfield Away 29/12/13

Having missed Barnsley due to finances (bloody Christmas...) and Bournemouth due to family Christmas party obligations (and eating wayyyy too much food), my latest Yeovil away trip was to Huddersfield after the epic win at Watford.

I drove up to my dad's in Leicestershire and he drove the rest of the way. We made it to Huddersfield at around 1pm, and headed just around the corner from our free on street parking space to Ricky's pub. Turns out it's a strip club by night, but it was decent enough by day! After a swift pint of cider we headed around to the Galpharm John Smith's Stadium and paid on the gate (very old school). £23 quid for us and yet £26 quid for them. Worth it, as it turns out...

Selfie at the John Smith's stadium
We were woeful. Embarrassing. Abysmal. Whichever your adjective of choice. 

We scored first, arguably against the run of play, in the 14th minute with a decent finish from Miller at close range from a corner after a lot of pinging around in the box. And.... then it fell apart. 3-1 down before half time from a free header and tap ins. We conceded two in the second half, decent strikes from range the pair of them but I was barely watching at this point. 

The game was immaterial by the end as the calls for Gary Johnson's head from some fans and the fact Gary had been missing for large parts of the second half overshadowed discussion.

I recorded my thoughts on the long old poke home, apologies for sound quality and ranting but it was much easier than writing everything down!

My next game is Birmingham away on the 18th of January, let's hope I have better things to discuss!

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Watford - 30/11/13

Having not made a game since Middlesbrough due to being on holiday for Leeds and unable to get the day off for Doncaster, I was really looking forward to the game at Middlesbrough. Recent results didn't fill me with much optimism, but the chance to see a ground I'd never been to against a side Yeovil had never played before was a good one.

I set off at 10:30 with this being a "home" game for me - barely an hour down the road on the M25 for me from Aldershot. The main thing I noticed coming in to Watford was that there wasn't a single road sign for Vicarage Road, I ended up on the road purely by chance as I drove around. A friend told me that due to a lack of parking, they didn't want to encourage people to drive to the stadium. I worked my way back from the ground finding some free street parking around a half mile away, and there were lots of signs for pedestrians for me to follow to find my way easily back.

Having initially got into football as a young teenager following Chelsea obsessively from my armchair, I was really excited at the prospect of playing against a Gianfranco Zola side. I wanted to get to the stadium really early to bolster my chances of meeting him. As it happens, the Watford players and management all arrive at the same time, by coach, around 1:20pm. I thought this was a nice touch - they all arrive together, and all leave together, which I think really shows unity. Having waited over an hour... I was extremely excited to be able to have my photo with Zola and found myself reverting to that young teenager again!

Me and Gianfranco Zola! I have never looked so pale...

We grabbed a (very lovely) bacon cheeseburger from a van next to the ground (we were pushed for time... don't judge!) and entered the ground. The ground... well. Ramshackle barely covers it for the most part! They only have 3 stands at the moment as one has been demolished to build a whole new one, and the building site does leave a little to be desired...

The rest of the stadium seemed a little run down but the stands themselves were fairly decent, especially the home ends.

I was feeling strangely optimistic come kick off - no idea why. Perhaps the new signings we'd made in midweek - two strikers and a midfielder. We've seriously been lacking strike power this season and had been crying out for new some blood in that regard so I was looking forward to getting a good look at them at Watford. More on them later.

The game itself... well let's start from the beginning. In the first five minutes, we seemed a little panicked at the back at Watford repeatedly ran at us. We managed to get into our stride quickly however, with a great last ditch tackle from Davis in the box and some great clearances from Duffy. Watford then had a shot at the near post which pinged around the box and finally hit Davis on the back (which he seemed to know little about) which was then hurridly collected by Dunn. While Watford had a lot of space in our half, lots of chances and a few decent shots on goal, there were no efforts where I genuinely thought "this is going in". We meanwhile were playing some lovely passing football on the deck, with a few chances here and there but no killer breakthrough. And then it came, in the one minute of added time, when Byron Webster rose like the cliched salmon to head in corner. Absolute elation from the amazing travelling Yeovil support. 945 of us were going absolutely mental as we were trying to remember how one actually celebrates a goal!

Going in to half time a goal ahead is always a dodgy position to be in, especially when you're Yeovil. In the past we've always come out a different side in the second half, and it's hard to really pinpoint why - sitting back, complacency? Who knows. But at Watford, that wasn't the case. we came out stronger, faster, better. For all their possession, corners and flair, Watford's finishing was absolutely woeful and the onslaught from Yeovil going forward was relentless. We soaked up the pressure with relative ease, with Byron Webster and Duffy absolutely class. We made it 2-0 on 53 minutes when -  shockingly -  A STRIKER SCORED!!!! Brand new signing Ishmael Miller, on loan from Forest, headed in from a few yards out. It was well taken as it looked like he was going to miss by a mile. Absolute mayhem in the away end as people fell from rows above onto the fans below them and down onto the terrace between the seats! How was this happening? We weren't only winning 2-0, but deservedly so, and we were playing really WELL. Watford threw everything at us, with corner after corner after corner. They had more possession, sure, but we were always going forward whenever we got hold of the ball and in my opinion, always looked dangerous. And right at the death, after the board went up for injury time, Joe Edwards slotted home a really decent finish to make it 3-0 and to cement what had been a brilliant performance, pretty much from start to finish.

Thew new players -  Morgan ran his socks off and while he didn't get on the end of anything, he looked lively. Miller really put himself about and bothered the Watford defence at all times and his finish was well taken, cooly and calmly. Great to see him get on the score sheet early and hopefully bolster his confidence. And Lundstram in midfield was absolutely class  - where he gets his energy from I don't know but he closed everything down and ensured everything was kept tight in midfield.

Overall performances were fantastic. There was the usual slicing from Ayling and the usual giving-the-ball-away from Upson but generally, we were class. And I don't just mean that as a Yeovil fan - we were objectively a million times better than we have been for months, we looked confident and assured. My man of the match was Lundstram -  I think he will be a serious asset for us during his loan.

I picked up a few cans of cider (sorry, purists!) on the way home and celebrated a wonderful day all round, and an epic victory for the Town! Onwards an upwards, with my next game at Barnsley. This is a real winnable game, with us now off the bottom of the Championship and Barnsley taking our place.

Enjoy your weekend Yeovil fans.... I know I will!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Middlesbrough 5/10/13

With only a week between away games, it was a rare novelty that I had a football trip two weekends in a row. As I had spent the last one at my parents instead of travelling all in one day, I decided I'd do just that for Middlesbrough. I wanted to be able to have a Saturday night at home, in my own bed, and have the whole day Sunday rather than football taking up my whole weekend. Unfortunately housework doesn't do itself... ;) so the plan was settled - I would drive up and back to Middlesbrough all in one day.

I left the house around 7am, and with a stop at Tibshelf services halfway up the M1, I made it to Middlesbrough at around 12. I found some free on street parking just a short walk from the ground, and an even shorter walk from Doctor Browns - the away fans pub as recommended by Boro fans. After meeting up with my dad and a swift half of cider in the pub (can't be too careful when driving!) we headed on down to The Riverside.

Another very impressive stadium - it's quite clearly a a Premier League ground in the wrong division. We bought our tickets and were told we had to sit in our seats... guffaw :)

Being on the side of the pitch we couldn't get our customary top left of goal seats, but it was a pretty decent view from where we were!

The travelling contingent was much smaller this weekend -  probably due to Bolton away, Leicester at home on the Tuesday (another defeat...) and having been to the Riverside before in the cup fairly recently. There's something different about visiting a ground in the League though - we were finally on the same level, or so it seemed...

A bright start for Yeovil with the goal coming on just 4 minutes from Liam Davis. It was a beautiful strike too - as he sprinted past the defender to slot it home from outside the box. Absolute jubilation from the 236 Yeovil fans who had to be impressed by our early showing. But all too quickly, it fell apart. On just 8 minutes, Grant Leadbitter slotted home a well taken shot from a corner that we just didn't deal with. And that became the recurring theme. End to end didn't even begin to cover it, with both sides having chances and running at two poor defences. But it was Middlesbrough who capitalised and after scoring their penalty on 20 odd minutes - a definite penalty we couldn't argue with - they completely took over. It was embarrassing, to say the least. Middlesbrough absolutely cut us to ribbons with our defence stationary. It was quite clear, to me at least, that the issues were in midfield. Middlesbrough just has so much room, and we were chasing shadows to coin a popular cliche.

Our substitutions, in light of where the obvious problems were, were baffling. Andy Williams was taken off after half an hour and quite rightly so - he was absolutely dire. But he was replaced by Hoskins -  a little dink against massive midfielders and defenders -  a poor choice. And at the start of the second half, an ineffective Paddy Madden was replaced by.... KIEFFER MOORE. A completely untried forward from Dorchester. All the while we were still completely wide open in the midfield.

We did finally bring on Dawson with around 10 minutes to go. This should have been at least half an hour earlier, half time or even before. I don't know what Foley and Dawson have to do to get in this side. I really don't.

I go over all this in the video anyway so give it a watch if you like! Thought it would make a nice change. Sorry its poor quality though, it's clear that driving and making videos doesn't mix with all the road noise. If I do a video again I'll make sure I'm stationary first! Bear in mind this is also very raw after an embarrassing and gutting defeat so I am not exactly complimentary...

A very bad photo of me at The Riverside
The trip home wasn't too bad -  I stopped on the way to pick up some cider as I had a feeling it was going to be necessary to try and forget the absolutely dire performance. I made it home just before 10, after over 9 hours driving in one day and costing me around 100 pounds including petrol and the £27 ticket price. Just not good enough...

Bolton 28/9/13

Having not been to a game for what seemed like an eternity, the away trip up to Bolton finally came around. Since my last game away at Burnley in August, we'd played seven games - at home to Derby, Birmingham in the cup, Reading and QPR, and away at Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich. A draw and five losses (we lost on penalties to Brum). Ouch.

The prospect of Bolton Wanderers, who were on their own bad run of form, was therefore a promising one. I'd booked train tickets up to Horwich Parkway - the station right next to the ground - and arrived at 12;15. I met up with a couple of Yeovil fans on the train from Manchester. We all seemed cautiously optimistic...

I met up with my dad at the station and we headed to The Beehive - the pub recommended by Wanderers fans for the away contingent. It's becoming a recurring theme that Championship clubs do NOT like away fans in the pubs close to the ground. Fair enough - but we're only Yeovil! Our "firm" quota is pretty small, if not none-existent with very few arrests since joining The Football League. But I guess they have to have the same rules for all fans. The Beehive was only a 15 minute walk, and was full of Yeovil fans so it was worth seeking out. It also had amazing food - we got two meals for a tenner and they were absolutely beautiful. After meeting up with our usual crew we headed on down to the Reebok.

In The Beehive

A very impressive stadium and a little daunting to say the least. We bought our tickets and were told we had to sit in our allocated seats, and remain seated for the whole game. But we're Yeovil - we do what we want :) we picked our customary top left of goal seats, and of course, stayed standing. The stewards seemed to have no problem with it, at least!

It was my first viewing of the absolutely massive Little Old Yeovil flag - it's probably been aired at home games but I'd never seen it before. I also had the honour of holding one of the corners as we held it aloft over our heads during the warm up and before kick off.

Little Old Yeovil flag

It may be an impressive stadium but it sure was quiet. The Wanderers fans were almost silent, for large parts of the game. Perhaps they haven't had a lot to cheer about in recent months :)

The game itself was a largely uneventful and flat affair, particularly in the first half. Bolton hit the post early on, which was a big let off for us, and we were losing possession far too easily in the midfield. Bolton had probably the best of the chances, but possession was pretty much equal over all and it was hard to think of any events of real note in the first half. 

In the second half Yeovil had a bit more of a rush about them, but Bolton came out the brighter, putting pressure on us and forcing some good saves from Hennessey. But it was Yeovil who were the fortunate, with a gifted goal from Bolton keeper Bogdan. A shot from Ed Upson, which was a pea-roller from about 20 yards out, went under the keeper's legs as he bent to collect it. It was a delayed reaction from Yeovil fans, who had all turned to each other in dismay at the effort from Upson, and took a few split seconds to realise what had actually happened. Complete elation as everyone hugged and jumped around, and we were looking good for the win with just 10 minutes left to play. 

All we had to do was keep it tight, all we had to do was see the game out. But Yeovil Town cannot do that. We have to make things difficult for ourselves. With just four minutes to go in added time we gave away a free kick which we defended poorly, and allowed BWFC to head home the equaliser. As it turns out, the cross was way over the touchline and the goal shouldn't have stood - but it was only in replays that this became apparent. Bolton had a chance to nick the win in the dying seconds, with a header that was thankfully straight at Yeovil keeper Hennessey. 

It shows how far we've come that we were disappointed with a point away at Bolton, and I don't like to continually blame the officials, but we should have come away with three points from that game, and it was gutting to have given it away in the dying embers in the game. 

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Burnley 17/08/13

Two weeks after Millwall and following a narrow victory in the cup at Southend and an equally narrow defeat at home to Birmingham, we travelled up to Burnley. I watched the Birmingham game on TV and there certainly didn't seem to be a gulf of class - we played well but didn't take our chances. I travelled up to my parents in Loughborough with optimism for our first ever visit to Turf Moor.

I woke up at 5:45 and after packing a bag and making a coffee to go, I made my bleary-eyed way to the station. I am lucky that the train station is only a ten minute walk from our house - meaning I can leave it fairly late before I have to head out. I say late, I left at 6:15 which is stll fairly early, collected my tickets and boarded the 6:34 out of Aldershot to London Waterloo. That early in the morning there was barely anyone on the train, and it was an easy, uneventful journey. I got to Waterloo and made my way to the underground. I had checked on an app on my phone for the best lines to get to St Pancras, which recommended the Northern Line to Leicester Square and to change for the Piccadilly Line. Unfortunately when I got there, with no real warning, the Northern Line was closed, and of course there is no phone signal under ground. Thankfully my few days working in London every so often covering for Westminster colleagues meant I knew I could get the Jubilee Line to Green Park to get on the Piccadilly Line there instead without too much delay. Local knowledge always comes in handy :)

I made it to St Pancras with plenty of time to get to train to Loughborough, a really quick service with only one stop beforehand - Leicester. I stumped up the 4 quid for wifi - always worth it as at those speeds you rarely get phone signal. I whiled away the hour and a bit with no problem and my dad met me at the station. We set off for Burnley at 9:45.


The roads weren't too bad - a few hold ups for roadworks but nothing too drastic. We made it into Burnley for just around 12:30 and headed over to the Cricket Club behind the away end. I had asked on Twitter for some advice from Clarets fans for where the best place for away fans to get a drink was. It always amazes me how friendly people are on Twitter, especially "rival" football fans. A few people recommended the Cricket Club and we headed there for a couple of pints. I had a chance to meet up with a long time Twitter friend, Nick - a Burnley fan. We had been talking on Twitter for a couple of years, and its always nice to have a real life "tweet up"! 3 pints of cider and some serious cheap food later (god love Northern prices!) and we headed round to the ground.

The Cricket Club

Soooo cheap

Me and Nick in the Cricket Club

The ground itself is very close to the town centre, almost in the middle of a housing estate. Its a very old-school stadium, with the outer perimeter wall and turnstiles and corrugated sheeting. Inside, we had half the stand behind the goal. Unfortunately the wrong side for us - we like to be top left of the goal but we had to settle for top right! The seats were wooden and if possible even WORSE than Leyton Orient!! Though there was a little more leg room.

After the injury to our goalkeeper Marek Stech against Brum we were all left wondering who would deputise. We were meant to be signing Wayne Hennesey, just on a one month loan, but he injured himself in a warm up for an international for Wales. Twitter rumours were rife, as always, with names of possible replacements. As it turned out, we had signed Sam Johnstone, a youngster from Man United, on a 3 month loan. A pretty much untried, untested keeper which was a little worrying, in my opinion anyway. "We've got the best keeper in the league!" our fans sang - I wasn't so sure.

The game itself was a fairly scrappy and largely uneventful affair. The first half was very forgettable with little incident to recall, apart from the glaring miss from Davis of an open goal about 3 yards out. He somehow managed to sky it over the crossbar. Overall we competed well and matched them, with few chances for either side. The only one additional minute of added time said it all - naff all had happened. Burnley did not look to be a good side, and certainly nothing to be afraid off.

Second half, and it couldn't be much worse, could it? Well again we competed well for up to 70 minutes, without really creating any clear cut chances. There were opportunities to shoot from range, but a lack of confidence seemed to be telling. Paddy Madden looked to be off his game, again a matter of confidence perhaps, and James Hayter certainly didnt look himself. The main blow was on 74 minutes when a cross-shot from a Burnley sub that should have been easily dealt with was pushed into our own net by the rookie keeper. And after that we fell apart. Burnley cut through our defence as if they were absent, and we lost all shape. Defensively we looked scrambled and shaky. In no small part due to the substitution of Tate, in my opinion. Johnstone in fairness pulled off some cracking saves, getting down well for a couple of shots and some good parries. It could have been a lot worse. But the sucker-punch came just a few minutes later as we failed to settled after the goal and from 2-0 there was just no coming back. Heads dropped and the game might as well have finished at 80 minutes for all we did in the final 10.

Oddly the tunnel was under the away end so the players - and Gary Johnson - had to walk over to our fans, applauding as usual. I don't think that would have been the case had the tunnel been along the side of the ground, or they certainly would only have made a fleeting appearance. Gary did not look happy, and rightly so. We didn't do the basic things and fell apart.

My dad drove me back to my parents through some torrential rain, which reflected the mood. Deflated and gutted - but not entirely defeated! No cause for panic so far, not from my view anyway. Gary has previously said to judge a side after 10 games. We are 18th in the league and I would be more than happy to finish there. Its a long old season and a couple of losses does not a season make. Onwards and upwards with Derby making the trip to Huish Park next.

I am missing the Sheffield Wednesday game as I am visiting family, so my next game is actually 40+ days away when we head up to Bolton. It seems like forever!

Until then, then!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Millwall 3/8/13

The season is finally upon us!

Living in Aldershot means that Southern games as a general rule are pretty easy for me to get to, especially London based games. I got a really cheap return train for just 15 quid, and that avoided the hellish sweat bath that would have been the tube. I got the train at 10:04 at Aldershot and an easy journey to Clapham, Peckham and then South Bermondsey saw me arriving at 11:30. 

I met up with my dad who had driven down to Stanmore and got the tube down to Canada Water and had walked from there. We decided to try and find a local watering hole, in spite of being warned off them, as neither of us were wearing Yeovil colours and neither of us have telltale West Country accents! We walked for miles (or so it seemed) down Old Kent Road before we finally happened across The Five Bells.

My Millwall supporting friend informed me afterwards on Facebook that this was DEFINITELY a Millwall only pub, but no one was any the wiser that we were Yeovil fans and we made it out unscathed :)

After that we headed down to the ground and had an ice cream from the van parked up outside the stadium. Very refreshing after our couple of mile trek, all for an illusive pub!

After meeting up with some friends we made our way into the stadium. 

It seems that we are not trustworthy now we're Championship, us big time Charlie's aren't allowed bottles on our pop any more :) Time to go back to keeping a spare lid in my pocket!!

Thankfully it was unreserved seating even though a big crowd was expected. My dad and I always like to sit to the top left of the goal, a little tradition we've had for the past 12 years or so watching The Town. It wasn't a bad view!

The pitch looked to be in superb condition, which you would hope it would be for the first game of the season, but its been particularly hot and dry round London way so it was good to see the pitch wasn't too firm or starting to cut up as the lads warmed up. It was the first opportunity I had to see the new boys, having been unable to make any pre-season games. Trying to pick them out while warming up was proving a little difficult, but it was much easier once they had their squad numbers on!

The game itself in my opinion was, for large parts, all Yeovil. We dominated the first half, though the better of the chances perhaps were falling for Millwall. They came back into it second half but just couldn't take their chances, and we were bossing large parts of the game. Some lovely flowing football from us at times while Millwall were pretty much just hoofing it route one. Outstanding games for Dawson, Seabourne and Upson, but everyone was well on their game and well up for it. I was very impressed with Seabourne, He looks a class act. Confident, calm and no nonsense. He worked well with Byron Webster who looked a lot more comfortable than he has sometimes in the past. Alan Tate seemed solid, and I think he will be a great addition to our defence.  I also really liked the look of Michael Ngoo when he came on for Paddy; he certainly isn't afraid to put himself about and he is a real physical presence which I think we are going to be in great need of in this division. He is a bit of a change to Paddy which I think we will really benefit from against some of the stronger, bigger sides. Millwall were very physical and a lot of their fouls seemed to be unnoticed by the referee, but thankfully none were too costly on our part. There was a definite penalty shout for Hayter when he was pulled back in the box, but we didn't feel too hard done by when Ed Upson's shot hit the back of the net in the 88th minute! I have to admit I did have a few tears in my eyes when Ed scored - absolute ecstatic jubilation and pride overcame me a little :)

The trip back home was an easy one for me as everyone seemed to be going the other way at South Bermondsey - to London Bridge whereas I was headed back to Peckham and then on to Clapham. I made it literally just as the doors were closing at Clapham and made it back home for 7:15, which isn't a bad time for a away game. 

Next up for me is Burnley away, very much looking forward to that and will of course be blogging about it afterwards!

The Brakesy xxx

Friday, 2 August 2013

The Season Begins

It seems like a long time coming, but at the same time the summer without football seems to have flown by. For Yeovil especially, - our season was extended with the playoffs - and of course the season starts earlier this year than last as there's no Olympics to contend with.

The season gets underway tonight with the first football league game in League One, Sheffield United vs Notts County. But of course for us Glovers fans, all eyes will be on The Den tomorrow as Yeovil embark on their first ever game in their first ever season in The Championship.

I have been to The Den before, which is a bit of a shame for the first game to not have been  "glamour" tie at a new ground, but its a chance for us to get some points on the board and familiarity is never a bad thing. We've made quite a few signings this close season and unfortunately I haven't been able to get to any pre-season games, unlike usual. So tomorrow will be the first time I set eyes on the new boys and hopefully get a good look at them and see what the potential is there.

I am getting the train down in the morning, which isn't too bad, just two changes to get to South Bermondsey and it was only £15 return which for London and back really isn't bad. It will be a great opportunity to catch up with friends that I generally only see in the football season, and to get back to normality of football on Saturdays. I've certainly felt a little lost the past couple of months, tending to sing Gary Johnson songs to myself as it draws closer to 3pm :)

Very much looking forward to the season getting underway proper, and I'll put up a match report here and a few photos tomorrow after the game.

COYG #bestinthewest :)

The Brakesy xxx

Saturday, 25 May 2013

They've Only Gone And Done It...

That's a famous phrase among Yeovil fans - "They've Only Gone And Done It" - uttered by a commentator as Marcus Stewart heads home and brings the play off semi final between Yeovil and Nottingham Forest to 3-3 on aggregate in 2007. Yeovil won 5-4 on aggregate after extra time to set up a tie with Blackpool at Wembley Stadium. As it had only very recently opened, thousands and thousands of Yeovil fans flocked to the New Wembley, more as a day trip than anything. No one expected us to beat Blackpool, did they? It was just a day out - we'd had our final up at Forest and anything other than that was a bonus. Unfortunately, it seemed to be how the squad were thinking too. Long story short - we were garbage. The disjointed fans couldn't get a song going, and on the pitch was even worse. 

So when Yeovil Town finished in the playoffs at the end of this season, what were the thoughts of the Yeovil faithful? Another day out? Another day trip to London where the result didn't matter? Absolutely not - and the main reason for this change is one man - Gary Johnson. 

Gary Johnson came back to Yeovil Town in January 2012 after seven seasons away. When it was announced that he was taking over at the helm, everything changed. The mentality, the belief, the camaraderie, and more importantly the results. We had struggled for several seasons under Terry Skiverton, but the wonderful club man stepped down to be Gary's assistant and what a decision that turned out to be!

The Sheffield United away game kicked off our playoff campaign, and although we were 1-0 down by the end, no one really believed it was over. Sure, there was some negativity - its hard to remove that from Yeovil fans after several seasons of languishing in the bottom 6 or 7 places of the league. But no one genuinely thought the tie was over. We'd played reasonably well, most certainly not outplayed, and the atmosphere had been outstanding. Taking just a 1-0 deficit back to Huish Park meant all we had to do was score 2 goals in front of our home crowd - an almost sellout home crowd at that. 

At home, we outplayed Sheffield United for large parts of the game, with Kevin Dawson leveling the game on aggregate only six minutes into the game, but this is Yeovil Town - we don't do things easily. A nervy 80 odd minutes ensued until Ed Upson's towering header sent the home stands into absolute pandemonium and sealed the Glovers fate - we were off to Wembley again! The pitch invasion said it all - this meant so much to the Yeovil fans and this time, we were NOT going to let it pass us by.

Almost as soon as the final whistle had been blown at Huish Park, speculation about Wembley and the club's plans were rife. It emerged that there were going to be designated "singers blocks" so all those who wanted to start and carry on a chant would be surrounded by like-minded individuals. Nothing against the "glory hunters" but their presence at the 2007 final made us look like complete amateurs. Not this time! We had two season ticket holders primed and ready to order the 16 tickets we needed all together as soon as the season ticket priorities were on sale. And we got them, in block 112, right in the middle of the singers!

Those two weeks between the Sheffield United games and the final were just absolute agony. Every day seemed to drag - no matter how busy I was at work - and Sunday the 19th of May just couldn't come round quickly enough. We arranged travel plans, speculated on the squad and injuries, and even started (in our minds at least) thinking about what teams we might be playing next season if we did it. This was definitely different to 2007 - I don't remember even glancing at the Championship sides to see what might have been. 

The day finally came around and I was nervous. So so nervous. "In Gary We Trust" as so many Yeovil fans cite - but now this was down to those 11 men of the field. Those 11 men that over the season Gary had moulded and shaped and sculpted into a team of enormous team spirit and confidence. But while I was nervous, I was confident, which is a strange set of emotions to have. On the train into Waterloo from Farnborough (engineering works on the Aldershot line) I went from ecstatic and excited to subdued and nervy in split seconds. It finally felt real, as we were on that train into the Capital. This really was it, today.

We headed to The Torch, the designated Yeovil pub for the day and in spite of massive queues, we finally got drinks. I got two pints of cider and I barely even remember drinking them; they certainly didn't do their intended job of fending off the sick feeling of nerves. We downed our drinks and walked up the famous Wembley Way with that imposing arch bearing down on us. And now I really felt sick. We found our seats and met up with our fellow Yeovil faithful and watched the pre-match build up. Those 45 minutes or so just flew by - I can barely remember them (and my memory isn't great even at the best of times...) but I do remember belting out Yeovil True - the club's song released for the FA Cup tie against Liverpool - at the absolute top of my lungs. 

The game? Well, what can I say about the game! We'd played Brentford twice during the season but that had no bearing on today. They were going to be dangerous and we were going to be a danger to ourselves, I could just feel that right at the start. But Yeovil started so brightly and you could see we were confident, and well up for the game. In only the first few minutes an injury to Captain Jamie McAllister (which transpired after the game to be a broken nose!) stopped play and we had a moment to take a breath and look around. We were at Wembley Stadium; 17k+ Yeovil fans all singing and shouting together and within touching distance of the second tier of English football. Unreal!

The wonderkid that is Paddy Madden hit home on six minutes with an absolutely beautiful strike - well worthy of any goal of the month competition - and set us up nicely for our one minute of "There's Only One Adam Stansfield". Stanno was a Yeovil player between 2001-2004 and sadly passed away in August 2010 after a battle with cancer. Stanno was instrumental in our rise up the leagues, with the catalyst being the winning of the FA Trophy. It was well observed, and respected, and we sang our hearts out for the full minute. In fairness, we sang our hearts out for 96 minutes, even more if you count before the game. The atmopshere was unbelievable - getting everyone together who wanted to belt out chants at the top of their voices was a great move by the club and I think it really raised the game of the lads on the pitch. Brentford were unnervingly quiet. 

Just before half time, Dan Burn fired a shot at goal that seemed to travel through several bodies and James Hayter claimed he got the final touch as the ball hit the back of the net -  but it was definitely Dan Burn's goal having watched the replays - and that took us to 2-0 up at half time. But, what have I said before? This is Yeovil Town! We do NOT do things the easy way. At the start of the second half Brentford were sprightly, resurgent, and dangerous. Several shots in quick succession and then, 51 minutes into the game they got their goal. It was only from a few yards out but it was powerful and beat the Yeovil goalkeeper Marek Stech. A very, very tense 40-odd minutes ensued and Brentford kept on pressing. We were really holding on by the end, especially with the 6 minutes added time that felt like eternity. But the final whistle eventually came and absolute followed as we'd actually done it, we'd really done it, YEOVIL WERE A CHAMPIONSHIP SIDE!! 

The celebrations on the pitch were fantastic, Gary Johnson got absolutely soaked with champagne and the ice bucket that was up-ended over his head. Terry Skiverton came over to the fans, pulling at and kissing the Yeovil badge on his shirt with a passion that's so rare. We all hugged, jumped, punched the air and screamed at the top of our lungs together as the trophy was presented and held aloft. We'd only gone and done it!! I never wanted to leave my seat - I could have stayed there forever - but as the players made their way down the tunnel we started to funnel out of the stadium and into the concourse to chants of "we are going up!". No, we aren't going up, WE HAVE GONE UP! 

After the game I felt almost deflated - the tension and euphoria of the day had just hit me so hard. The train journey back was quiet and reflective, but once I got home and saw the goals on Sky Sports News and had a few drinks with my husband, it started to hit me and started to sink in - Yeovil Town FC, non league just 10 years ago, are now in The Championship; and with an amazing season ahead of us...

Monday, 20 May 2013

This Blog

This blog will be about the meteoric rise up the the Championship by Yeovil Town.