Roger Slater talks about his team Wealdstone FC
Hi Roger, so what’s your thoughts on the match being played behind closed doors?
Pretty pissed off! To counter that, I don’t believe there is anyone specifically at fault…it’s an old ground and we are fans funded, not rich. Things age, shit happens. Glad no-one got hurt as that would have been far more of a concern…. Financially it will hurt us and on the field the lack of support will hurt too…..
How would you summarise Stones’ season so far?
Big question! Outstanding, jittery, fearless, frustrating, remarkable, excruciating, devastating, thrilling, horrifying, I really think you can choose a different adjective game on game. The one that may not appear is ‘boring’ but I think we’ve covered the rest thus far!
How’s your recent form been?
See above! Good wins against B*rnet (they get battered (almost) everywhere they go, you know!) and Yeovil followed by defeat snatched from the jaws of victory versus Wrexham (where we really were stitched up by the Ref*) and Solihull….. *Let me explain: harsh free kick for accidental handball results in a second booking (the first was harsh too) and Cookie takes the long walk….. The direct free kick on the edge of the box cannons back from the crossbar untouched by human or George Wickens hands and falls at the feet of the player who took the kick – he immediately despatched it into the far corner of the net…..no other player touching the ball between his two efforts, therefore, indirect free kick to us…… No. Goal given and we’re under pressure.
Early in the second half, we took the lead with a penalty. The ref in his wisdom added time for the various substitutions and for that decision. Without a trainer on the field in 90 minutes, SIX minutes was added and Wrexham scored the winner with about 15 seconds of the added time remaining…. (I could add that we were stitched up by the ref at Solihull too but we weren’t. They had a player sent off deservedly and immediately improved, stifling our efforts to get forward then – and actually I can blame the Wrexham ref again here – we didn’t clear a corner that Cookie, serving his one match ban would have had for dinner (I promise). another late goal and no points to take home despite actually outplaying a good footballing side for over an hour.
What’s been your highlights and lowlights of the season?
The highlights, being here playing at this level is up there. Competing in almost every game this season is up there too. Little old Wealdstone talking nigh on 300 to Notts County on a Tuesday night (eventually losing 3-2) and out-singing 5,000 home fans was big, as was a similar fans performance in a crowd of 8,600 at Wrexham where we took a point.. Beating then top of the table Grimsby was very satisfying and doing the double over B*rnet……priceless. As for the low lights, I guess the FA Cup and Trophy defeats at the first attempt. Details are painful so I’ll skip over those and giving both yourselves and Stockport at home three goal starts wasn’t going to end well, was it……
Who are your key players and why?
It’s a cliché but they all count. George Wickens in goal has been immense. If ever there was a young lad that grew up quickly it’s George. He will have a career and we’re pleased to be a part of it. Connor McAvoy is another with a great future in front of him, and to be fair (with one exception) the lads that the Management Team have been able to secure on loan have all performed. From the players signed last summer, Nik Tavares, Jack Cook, Rhys Browne, Josh Umerah, Charlie Cooper have all won us games. Perhaps the most unexpected thing though has been the two-fold – the fitness and togetherness of this part-time – I’ll say that again – part-time squad. We don’t get as much time on the training pitch to put things right as these guys are together for about four or five hours a week, competing in a league where most clubs have their team together for that long every day….
How does the manager like to set the team up?
Well, we certainly don’t park the bus. We want the ball, so possession is key to the platform we want to build from. The build-up is measured when needed but can also be decisive and immediate if the opportunity arises. It matters little what personnel are out there as the players are just as comfortable being in your face as they are playing a deliberate possession game.
What’s your likely line-up for Saturday?
I think Cookie will come back in and there maybe a space for Nik Tavares on the bench, the midfield worked hard in the last two games so there may be a change there, but I’m 110% sure Stu and Matty will have watched your last few games and they’ll use the players that best match your style. Not just to stop you, but to beat you. Winning is the aim. We can still learn along the way and no doubt we’ll get rolled over once in a while…..ask me on Saturday night how that pans out!
What’s your main strengths and weaknesses as a team?
Effort, willingness to learn and the ability to adapt are the strengths. For me, one or two individual errors too many have cost us points and games, but (and I think this is still the case) this is the youngest squad in the division as well as being one of what – is it two completely part-time teams….
Which opposition teams and players have impressed you most?
Few actually! Put Stockport to one side as a team as they were once again clinical against us, and no-one really has stood out. Certainly, there are players out there we could sign to do a job and no-one would turn down a twenty goal a season striker or two….but just like Tshimanga their one tackle from a injury no matter what they cost. What has been unimpressive thus far are some of the big money signings that have played against us. When a club is spending hundreds of thousands on a player you’d expect him to be a stand-out even on an average day….all I can say is quite a few must have had bad days against us.
You’ve been busy with ‘Where’s the Bar?’ magazine, tell us a bit about it?
Its new – Issue 2 out now – available from wheresthebar.co.uk and also from the Wealdstone Megastore boys at home games, so you can all buy a copy on Saturday and save the postage! It’s a project I was asked to help with and that’s involved a bit of writing and more badgering other people to contribute (thanks Dom! Next deadline end of March…..) but it’s not a Wealdstone thing, it’s a non-league magazine that leans towards the fanzine end of the market, but it will cover any good story we’re sent, past, present or historical, it doesn’t matter.
We’re open to contributions from pretty much any club, any level or even just personal stories and opinions. There are two rules – be entertaining and don’t get us sued! If anyone else reading this fancies trying their hand, email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll reply with some further details. We hope there will be another issue around Easter and another in the summer, but the eventual aim is to do six issues a year – maybe even monthly if we get enough interest and enough material, so sharpen those pencils (how do you do that on a keyboard btw?) Its early days, but we’d like to break even in a couple or three issues time and may then even be able to pay for some contributions too!!
And finally, what’s your prediction for Saturdays match against the Gulls?
If we turn up, we’ll win it, and we do owe you………
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