Hands up League One fans, who had Yeovil Town pinned for relegation again?
We’re getting quite used to proving people wrong at this point. Need I point out again that Yeovil have never been relegated as a Football League club?
In a previous post I proposed that if Yeovil could avoid a Christmas-time struggle, trying to kick ourselves away from the relegation zone, we would give ourselves the chance to emulate the strong finishes of the last few seasons and start to mention the P word. Look where ‘plucky little Yeovil’ are in the table, nestled in amongst the likes of Sheffield United, Coventry, Notts County, Bournemouth and MK Dons – so close to a play-off position we can taste it.
I hoped for a strong Christmas and a strong Christmas we got, with a disappointing Boxing Day Bournemouth result barely marring the good feeling generated by wins against Portsmouth, Oldham twice and Leyton Orient.
After the disappointment of whimpering out of the Johnstone Paint Trophy at the hands of Orient, who we had defeated 3-0 a week previous, two massive victories against Sheffield United and MK Dons has set the Glovers up for a colossal February of seven league fixtures. That feeling is back again. You don’t get it too often as a Yeovil fan, but it’s there. We know what it takes to get to the play-offs having made it to the final in 2007. Gradually over the course of the season, Gary Johnson has put a squad together who seem to be buying into what Yeovil is like as a club, what is has achieved so far and what is expected off them.
Players have been tested and haven’t worked along the way. Reuben Reid has joined Plymouth Argyle on loan for a month having fallen right out of the picture in terms of selection. He is not a ‘Gary Johnson’ style player, in terms of running, endeavour and application. Reid as bags of talent and an intelligent understanding of the game, though it scarcely found it’s way to the surface of his performances.
Another ex-Oldham Athletic player, Keanu Marsh-Brown, also fell by the wayside and has had his contract terminated. The guy also has plenty of talent, he’s quick and can beat a man, however too little was he effective in games and his attitude and lack of commitment frustrated fans and clearly the management.
With Yeovil fans rarely caught up in the whirlwind of Transfer Deadline Day, it’s nice to know that the club have arguably done some of the best business in the league. After an impressive loan spell from Carlisle, striker Paddy Madden has penned a permanent deal and to say it is paying dividends would be an understatement. Six goals in his last three games has seen the leagues third top scorer rise to 14 goals for the season and seems to be in such form that ever opportunity comes close. If I were a Carlisle United fan I would be mightily miffed that we let such an asset go for such little money to a League One rival, but hey, I’m not complaining.
Madden’s childhood friend from Ireland, Kevin Dawson, has also joined the club and has immediately shown the commitment, battle and desire that supporters just love. After two loan spells at the club, Johnson has come up trumps once more by signing Joe Edwards from Bristol City on a permanent transfer, another who buys into exactly what is required at Huish Park and his versatility will certainly prove essential in the run-in to the end of the season.
In most post-match interviews and twitter reflections, players, management and supporters alike are talking about the play-offs. Not that that’s what we expect but because that is what everyone is pulling towards.
What Yeovil need now is for fans to start filing back through the gates, we need bums on seats (cold toes on the terrace) to support the team vocally and support the club financially. If some of the 30,000 or so who made it to Wembley can add to the 3,152 who braved the weather at home to MK Dons then club won’t need to worry about needing to sell the likes of Paddy Madden, Marek Stech and Ed Upson.
After beating Sheffield United away and MK Dons at home, Saturday proves a massive fixture – at home to Brentford. Three points would assert us as real play-off contenders.
The thing is, it could have been so much better. After a bright start saw us hit the top of the table, an record run of six league defeats on the trot left one or two scratching their head as to whether it might be another Christmas of worry. Hindsight is a grand thing, but we could be right in the mix at the top of the table had that run not occurred. Frustratingly, often only by the odd goal – 3-2 versus Preston and 2-1 at home to Portsmouth adding to 1-0 defeats against Bournemouth, MK Dons and Sheffield United, the very sides we find ourselves battling toe-to-toe with for a spot in the top six.
However, that was then, and as I skim through the upcoming fixtures, each game seems as big and important as the last. In the next month we have teams chasing promotion in Brentford and Doncaster as well as teams trying to kick themselves away form the doldrums of the relegation zone in Scunthorpe, Oldham and Colchester.
This is not the time though to go too over the top with a win, too down-heartened with a defeat – come to the game and enjoy it. It looks as though we could have a season without once mentioning the word relegation, if we can’t enjoy that, we won’t enjoy anything.
Written by Ryan Peasland, We Are Going Up’s Yeovil Town Blogger
Ryan tweets at @rpeasland