“Gary Johnson = My TUFC Man of the Year”
Dom Roman – @DomRoman
I didn’t feel very festive watching the updates coming in from Boreham Wood last Saturday. What did I request in my last blog? No injuries, no red cards and a win all wrapped up would be perfect…well it was the exact opposite, just about!
Boreham Wood FC have had plenty of negative criticism for their lack of support, and their miniscule turn-out that afternoon just invited more. Out-numbered by our travelling Yellow Army, who decided that it worth the trip to support the lads – I never fail to be amazed by their effort. The trip wasn’t totally in vain, as GJ’s guys dug in deep and battled all the way into a painful extra time*. In the end unfortunately it wasn’t enough, and the Trophy is out of our hair for another year. I’d pretend to be disappointed, but you wouldn’t believe me anyway!
(*Unlike last Xmas our team has heart)
Ruairi’s red card sounded cheap. RK does get frustrated at times and throws himself into some silly challenges, but apparently this wasn’t one of them. A 3-match ban and Christmas at home with the family was his punishment…or reward! And then to compound my frustration whilst I was preparing dinner, off goes Kyle and news filters through of knocks to both Janners and Reidy. As early Xmas presents go, this game was akin to a lump of cole or garish socks – aside from the noble effort with 10 men, it was one to forget.
One name that did get the plaudits on Saturday was the one and only Paul Bastard. Sam Jones reported back on Paul’s ability to wear shorts in the coldest of conditions…that and many other things makes Paul a total Yellows legend. In the evening Helen Chamberlain, Kevin Nicholson and others all debated the man himself and gave some Xmas cracker anecdotes on a chap who simply never misses a Gulls fixture (see below). My gaze from Bristow’s to the Popside always finds PB, usually stood down one end – usually bouncing around and berating a linesman! Just getting involved in the PB appreciation threads, made me appreciate what being a Gulls fan is all about – we are a big family after all.
The big(ish) news this week is Brett Williams departing for Sutton Utd on loan, due to a lack of 1st team opportunities and family reasons – which is entirely understandable and not a bad move for the striker. Mind you, he could just end up on their bench instead of ours! The incoming story of Brett returning last season gave everyone a temporary lift; I say temporary as his saviour tag was never justified. It wasn’t all bad, he chipped in with a few goals and clearly wanted to be the hero once again – it just wasn’t to be.
The decision by Gary Owers to pick him as club captain back in August probably goes down as one of the most bemusing in our history (which is saying something). Brett is no leader of men and never will be; the choice completely mystified me. Since then BW has been consistently bottom of our Player of the Month lists and cut a very tired looking figure when I last saw him at Plainmoor, I say tired as he was yawning as an unused substitute! The cut and thrust of Gary Johnson’s TUFC evolution doesn’t suit Brett’s style of play and I’d suggest barring bad injuries he’s unlikely to return. Thanks for those Dover and Braintree memories Brett, but best for all concerned that we move on.
My one concern with BW’s departure is our lack of squad depth, something that will surely need rectifying as we hit the unforgiving winter months. Ruairi’s suspension leaves us with only three strikers – Reidy, Janneh and Olaf. Reidy has played every game and we run the risk of him losing fitness and sharpness on these pitches. It’s a long season and ideally I’m sure GJ would like to juggle the squad around – with our current numbers there’s very little room for manoeuvre. Incomings please.
Olaf Koszela made his case at Boreham and Harry Lovering was very happy with how the lad adapted in his first start for the senior team. One thing that strikes me about Koszela upon seeing him in the flesh is how physically strong he looks for a 16-year-old. Our youngsters in the past have sometimes had the talent, but rarely appear robust enough to hold off big professional footballers – I don’t think Olaf will have that problem. How superb would it be for the teenager to make a big breakthrough this season at Plainmoor and pop a few goals in as we win promotion! Maybe it’s too early for him, but you never know.
Tomorrow’s game is yet another away fixture London-way for the lads! Mid-table Hampton and Richmond have had a funny old season, high up the table in September and then back down by November – before steadying themselves as currently 13th in the NLS charts with 8 wins, 4 draws and 8 losses. If we are to stay Number 1 for Xmas, then another professional performance is required. H&R beat us under Owers and were worthy of the 2-0 win on the day – organised and committed against a Gulls team struggling for identity. If they repeat that then we could have some problems.
Let’s not sugar-coat it Kyle Cameron being out is a potential issue. The centre back has been excellent and brings fire and aggression to that backline. In his place will come either George Essuman or Jamie Sendles-White, both men can do the job but Cam has been such a mainstay it may take a little while to adapt without him. Meanwhile fingers crossed Opi Edwards can bring his pace and ability back into the line-up after injury. I’ve missed Opi, his zest for the action and natural width he gives us can open up teams at will. The alternative is Jake Andrews moving to the wing or a formation shift; to be honest I’d rather avoid both of those options. Reporting back from the Beveree Stadium for TT will be Jonny Joseph – it may be Christmas, but TT towers will continue for your pleasure!
After that it’s Truro-Gloucester-Truro. With both Truro games scheduled for Plainmoor, the Gulls Nest and Boots & Laces better ensure sufficient beer supplies are in stock, not to mention staff (it always takes too long to get a pint)! We should win every game, bringing the New Year in with a cheer. Life’s not that simple though, and a revitalised Truro team will have other ideas, especially with Leigh Robinson now in charge. Leigh arrived at Truro with a decent reputation forged at Taunton Town and he would love to take some points off Gary Johnson (my TUFC man of the year) to enhance it even further. Let Pete Masters have his NYD pay-day Gary, but make sure that’s all they get! Check out our opposition fan interview with Tigers fan Josh Miller on the site over the weekend. Meanwhile Gloucester boss Chris Todd will be desperate to bag some points over Xmas, at the moment they need everything they can get. I’m sure Chris will receive a warm welcome from the Yellow Army (and deservedly so).
FINAL WORD: I probably won’t get round to another blog in 2018, with all these fixtures there’s just no time! It’s been a year of growth for the site, as the views keep increasing and word spreads on what we do (yes we have infiltrated Facebook, and it’s not that bad!). Going down to the NLS wasn’t a moment to call it quits; instead it’s been a time to push forward. Many thanks to Samuel Jones who has been brilliant deputising in the editor role (whilst I try and maintain a decent balance between work, family and…sport!). Without his considerable effort I would be struggling to keep it all afloat. Also the likes of Luke Hunter, Matty Hayward and Sam Druiff continue to contribute and others such as Marcus Arscott, Elliot Milner, Rich Heesem, Rachel Malloch and Andy Charles have stepped up to the plate. They’ve all put their own stamp on proceedings and over Xmas I’m hoping to see as many of the TT team as possible (and drink as many beers as possible). Into the New Year I expect the team to keep on winning under GJ, but also this multi-purpose stadium idea to keep bubbling along as the Clarke/Mayor partnership push for an unlikely victory of their own. Remember what Clarke’s end-game is and remember to join the TUST if you can – much like Santa Claus, our future as a club is still up in the air. HAPPY XMAS TO ALL – “I just want 9 points at home, more than you will ever know” (Mariah) X