Friday, 11 April 2014

Cherry Chimes speaks with The Back of the Blackthorn (Yeovil blogger)

Match Preview
Yeovil v AFCB
Blogger Interview - The Back of the Blackthorn

Cherry Chimes poses some difficult questions to Andrew Foot, the author of The Back of the Blackthorn, as we try and find out who are the heroes and villains are at Huish Park and what kind of shape the Glovers are in as they aim to fight for their place to stay in the Championship.

CC: How long have you been writing the Blackthornstand blog because I have also seen an older Wordpress site with the same name and what made you start blogging on Yeovil Town FC?

TBOTB: I’ve been writing my blog on and off for a few years now, but I’ve been trying to do it more consistently for maybe the past 18 months or so. I’ve always enjoyed writing – I used to do match reports and mock up newspaper pages about the club when I was a kid – so blogging seemed like a natural thing to do. I also thought it’d be interesting as a record for me to look back on in years to come. You go on such a rollercoaster journey as a football supporter and it seems like a good way to document it. The fact we won the play-offs not long after I started just goes to prove that.

CC: What's it been like this season to be a Yeovil supporter?

TBOTB: It’s been frustrating and disappointing at times but for the most part it’s just been amazing. We were in the ICIS League when I started supporting the club back in the mid-90s and to see us play at this level is beyond the wildest dreams of all of us I think. We are battling relegation and obviously no one takes pleasure in losing matches but for the most part, it’s been an honour to be there for this experience.

CC: Yeovil have beaten some of the bigger teams like Forest and Watford and drawn a good many games, but do you feel the team could have done better?

TBOTB: We could have but to be honest we have probably done better in this league than I expected us to before the season started. Having never been here before we didn’t know how we’d fare but we’ve competed well through most of the season. I think the biggest area where there’s been disappointment has been the amount of leads we’ve dropped. We’ve lost around 30 points from winning positions which is hard to take when even 10 of those points would have us almost safe by now. It shows why this league is sort difficult for a club like us, though, and where the difference between us and top sides probably lies.

CC: What did you think about the team's performance in your last game against Charlton? (That was a six pointer if ever there was one)

TBOTB: I couldn’t make it due to work commitments but I’ve heard plenty about the performance. It seems we just switched off at the start of each half and at any level that is likely to cost you. I think where that has been our biggest problem this season, just having that little bit of extra concentration and focus and when it comes down to it, that tiny bit of quality. It was disappointing to hear we switched off at such crucial times in such a big match but that’s probably why we are where we are. It sounded like we created a few chances, though, and on another day it could have been a very different story.

CC: What was the defining game of the season for you that sums up what your team is all about?

TBOTB: I’d probably say the Bolton match a few weeks ago summed up the season pretty well. We played some lovely football at times and got ourselves in to a great position (2-0 up at half time). We were unable to kill the game off in the second half, though, and despite having a penalty and Bolton being reduced to ten men we ended up drawing 2-2. It just summed up our lack of that killer edge to see matches out, but also showed we are good enough to compete.

CC: Which Yeovil players have been your leaders on the pitch?

TBOTB: The two centre backs have been rocks at the back this season and almost act as two captains. Byron Webster has all the leadership qualities you’d want from someone in that role but possibly a little more surprising is the control on-loan Everton defender Shane Duffy takes on. He isn’t shy to tell people what they should be doing and he also leads by example by throwing himself in front of shots and putting himself on the line for the team.

CC: Why is Gary Johnston such a good fit for Yeovil Town?

TBOTB: I think he knows how every aspect of the club works so well he can help make sure all the parts fit. He understands the supporters, the board, the team and his management staff and by acting as a bridge to bring all of those factors together he creates a great spirit and belief around the club. He is also very good at working on the budget we have and instilling a mentality that those players respond to. He isn’t perfect and he has his critics but he has performed miracles here and will rightly go down in our history books.

CC: Were you disappointed with the way Ishmael Miller said he no longer wanted to play for the Glovers on his recent return to Forest?

TBOTB: It just makes no sense to me. He has been out of favour at Forest and wasn’t playing there but he’s come here and scored some goals which can only help his career in the future. Quite why he’d throw that away I don’t know, but I guess some people just have that kind of personality. The club made the right decision letting him go though, and many aren’t too disappointed. He often came across as lazy and is the sort of player who will get the fans frustration levels up when things aren’t going well. He scored goals, which we need, but no one is bigger than the club.

CC: What's the latest news on plans for development of the Huish Park stadium?

TBOTB: The club want to build a retail development behind the away end but they’ve been in dispute with the council over planning permission. It seems now that Asda want to move there should it go ahead but a recent council meeting deferred any decision for a couple of months. I’m not got convinced the plans are as strongly presented as they could have been but hopefully this buys us the time we need. Much as I’m unconvinced by aspects of the plan, we need income from somewhere so I hope this does go ahead. My bigger concern, however, is that we don’t seem to have a Plan B should this be thrown out by the SSDC.

CC: Yeovil have been in the bottom three for most of the season but do you see a chance of making the great escape with the fixtures you have remaining?

TBOTB: It’s really hard to see it happening now sadly. We’ve put in some decent performances recently and have battled well all season but poor results against Barnsley and Charlton have been two pretty substantial nails in the coffin. I think most of us have the attitude now where we just want to enjoy the rest of the season and whatever will be, will be. That said we won’t be giving up until we are mathematically down but it’s just difficult to see how we can get out of it now.

CC: If Yeovil do drop down a league do you think the experienced gained will put the team in a good position to come straight back up?

TBOTB: League One is a really hard division to get out of and we are still by no means a big club at that level. We have gained real experience this season though and I certainly think it’ll help a lot next season. A bigger factor is likely to be the attention some of our players have now got. It’s hard to keep good players quiet at this level and if we should go down it may be hard to hold on to some of them. That said, the other bonus of being a Championship side is, should we go down, we will be an easier sell to potential new signings. I just hope we can build as a club and come back to this division in a better position. That’s if we go down of course, there may be still be time for a miracle!

CC: You lost at Bournemouth on Boxing Day, but looking at the results I'd say Yeovil are a better team that are fighting for every point so what is your score prediction for the game?

TBOTB: We were dreadful at Bournemouth and have looked much better than that in most of our games this season. I’d like to think we are a very different side now and confidence has grown over the past few months. We have a terrible record against you, though, and it’s almost become a running joke now that we never beat Bournemouth. It may just be that we need to win this one to keep our hopes alive, though, so I hope we will show more fight than we did on Boxing Day. Oddly it gives me more confident that you guys are on the crest of a wave at the moment as we seem to do better against better teams. I don’t really predict scores so I’ll just say I’m hoping for a home win and am not really in a position to say I’d be happy with a point.

CC: Are there any good pubs and eating venues near Huish Park ground?

TBOTB: This is a bit of a sore point with Yeovil supporters. There is a tent at the ground but that’s all you’ll find there. We are hoping the change of use that is part of the planning application for the retail development will mean we can build something more solid but at the moment, there’s a tent. That is usually only open to home fans for a match like this, too, and there aren’t many pubs that close to the ground. The Arrow is probably your best bet if you do want to a drink, though. It’s on the Abbey Manor Estate about a 15 minute walk from the ground and is a decent place to go for food and a pint or two.

CC: Thank you Andrew for giving all of those answers. I think we worked you hard. I think a lot of Bournemouth fans have a bit of a soft spot for Yeovil if I am honest as we love the underdog having been in that position ourselves for so many years. We will of course still see the game as a derby fixture and will hope to win but Gary Johnson and his team have been a credit to the Championship and I am not the only one that would love to see Yeovil lining up in the Championship again next season.

For more discussion and insight into the Glovers make sure you read up on their journey which is told expertly by Andrew on his The Back of the Blackthorn blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment