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Thurs 28th June 2001
More Signings Imminent

According to this week's local press, more new signings are expected at Huish Park within the next week - and possibly by as early as the weekend. Manager Gary Johnson saying to the papers: "I am talking to two or three people who I would like to come in. A couple of them are still on contracts. I cannot say anything - I am still ducking and diving at the moment. I just want to keep the ball rolling. So, I hope, if not by the weekend then early next week I shall make a couple of signings." Another goalkeeper and striker are the priorities for the manager to bring in, but no names are mentioned by the press as possibilities.

As far as the out-of-contract players at the club are concerned, Johnson said, "I am talking to Tom White at the moment - he is out of contract. I told him I want him and he knows that and that is where we stand with him. I do not think there will be a problem with him at all." He said that he had spoken to the other out-of-contract players and told them that they had an equal chance of proving their worth to him and staking a claim for a place in the first team. But he added, "A new manager cannot go throwing new contracts around without seeing people (play). Until I have seen anybody properly I cannot put people on big contracts."

Following on from the club's denial of recently receiving a bid from Southend United for Barrington Belgrave, chairman John Fry has now gone on record denying that another bid has come in from Roots Hall, this time for young goalkeeping prodigy Chris Weale, saying: "We have not had any bids for any of our players." From a fans' point of view let's hope it stays that way!

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Thurs 28th June 2001
Pennock Backs Glovers

FORMER Yeovil Town goalkeeper Tony Pennock has backed the club to be successful next season and has said that their results will be the first he looks out for on a Saturday afternoon.

The popular Welshman, who left Huish Park earlier this summer after six years at the club, wrote to the Yeovil Express’ chief reporter Steve Sowden this week asking him to publicly thank members of the Yeovil Town Independent Supporters’ Association for their support and to say that he still held the club in high regard.

Pennock, who has followed striker Warren Patmore to Football League newboys Rushden and Diamonds, said: "This is just a quick note to say thank you to members of the independent supporters’ association for their help, support and assistance during my six wonderful years at Yeovil Town.

"The support that I received from them is much appreciated and I will always be grateful to them all. My family was always made welcome and treated so well by the supporters.

"They always gave me much valued support and I would like to think that I went some way to repay that by always feeling proud and honoured to wear the shirt of Yeovil Town and by giving my all on the pitch.

"During my testimonial year the independent association was always the first group of people to offer me support and that helped my testimonial greatly and I am proud to be the first player to win the YTISA Player of the Year Award.

"Yeovil Town will be the first result that I will look for on a Saturday and who knows - I might be back at the great club one day. I am sure that the club will have a successful season and that they will be supporting a Football League club soon - something that the fans deserve."

Association officials are already gearing up for the new season and as well as giving fans the chance to become a Life Member of the group - they have also given new manager Gary Johnson their full backing. See the YTISA Section on Ciderspace for the details.

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Sun 24th June 2001
It's The N-LP Wot Dun It......

...... well so says The Non-League Paper. In a double page spread Britain's favourite Non-League tabloid claims that the arrival of Gary Johnson at Yeovil Town was all down to their intrepid correspondent Graham Nickless. Reporter Colin Mafham - the man Nickless obviously wasn't talking to as Mafham exclusively revealed to us a succession of definites for the Huish post, hardly any of whose names were either Gary or Johnson - reveals all. It was Nickless who brought the ad for a manager at Huish Park to Johnson's attention.
To be perfectly honest I was a little reluctant at first to mention Yeovil to him. I didn't think he would want to drop from international football to the Conference, especially as I knew he was speaking with clubs from the Premiership and First Division about a coaching role. But Gary had no doubts whatsoever about Yeovil because he knew he could build from the bottom upwards, and the longer the whole thing went on the more he wanted the job.

The article suggests that the Yeovil Town board was not initially convinced. It states that the board was looking for someone to fast-track Yeovil into the League by concentrating on the First Team. Nickless says he convinced John Fry to phone Johnson, telling the Yeovil chairman he'd regret it for the rest of his life if he didn't. On the strength of that phone call Johnson moved onto the shortlist. However the board was still primarily looking elsewhere. Another push from matchmaker Nickless, allegedly, got Fry to see Johnson face to face a couple of days later but he departed for his Caribbean cruise unsure of the future as John Fry was still interviewing other candidates. On 14th June it was Nickless who faxed cabin number 9592 to tell Johnson that John Fry wanted Gary to phone him, and his belief that he'd be offered the Yeovil job. The rest is history.
So, if it all goes pear-shaped, send your letters, faxes and e-mails to:
Graham Nickless, c/o The Non-League Paper, Elvin House, Stadium Way, Wembley.........

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Fri 22nd June 2001
Johnson Hits The Ground Running

Andy Turner (right) meets captain Terry Skiverton (left) and manager Gary Johnson
Andy Turner (right) meets captain Terry Skiverton (left) and manager Gary Johnson
Photo © Clarion 2000

The ink had barely dried on the signature of Gary Johnson's contract yesterday [© Crap-Cliches-R-Us] before Yeovil Town's new manager had announced his first new signing for the club - step forward ex-Spurs, Portsmouth, Crystal Palace and Rotherham winger/striker Andy Turner!

26-year-old Andy joins Yeovil on a 2-year contract looking to kick-start his career after having been released by newly-promoted Div 1 side Rotherham in May after a season frustrated by niggling injuries. "I can't wait to put on a Yeovil shirt," he said. "I had a difficult time with injuries last season but I want to forget that now and I'm raring to go. The set-up here is fantastic and I'm here to help Yeovil get into the Football League." See the YTFC official website for more details on Andy's career to date.

More new signings could be on their way as early as next week as Gary Johnson looks to replace those players who have left since the end of the season. The manager told the Western Daily Press: "I know what we need and I have been speaking to a lot of players since I knew I was coming to Yeovil. A couple of them are taking the weekend to think things over and it could be that we make another signing early next week, but I don't want to say too much. I want players who represent value for money for this club and signing Andy is a good start. He will be a great asset."

Ciderspace wishes Andy the best of luck during his time at Huish Park.

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Thurs 21st June 2001
Bad Luck Fat Harry!

Local press review

Hard luck Fat Harry! The appointment of Gary Johnson as Yeovil's latest manager came too late for publication in this week's edition of the Clarion, though Harry does have his own good news, being the first of the local papers to break the news that Terry Skiverton has come off the transfer list, Skivvo saying, "I was bitterly disappointed when we failed to make it last season and I’d still like to get there [the Football League] with Yeovil Town. I’ve spoken to loads of people and I think that one more year at Yeovil might just be enough to achieve that ambition so I’ve told the club that I will stay for another year."

Good news there then, but it's the appointment of Gary Johnson as the new Yeovil boss that steals the headlines in the other local papers. 'Gazza is new gaffer' says the Western Gazette, whilst the Yeovil Express goes for a slightly more restrained 'It's up to you now, Gary!'.

Both paper's quote extensively from the new manager's press conference on Tuesday. Johnson, who was on holiday on a cruise ship last week and has been described as a "workaholic" by chairman John Fry, told the press: "I borrowed some videos of Yeovil before I went away on holiday recently. So, while everyone else was sunning themselves on deck, I was watching the matches against Hayes and Dagenham & Redbridge in a conference room on the ship. I realise we have a good nucleus of players at the club. I know the ones who will be vital to our squad and I know the ones who I feel we can get better players than. It will not be easy to replace a 20-30 goal-a-season striker but I have some ideas. I am already talking to a couple of players and I realise we need to bring two or three new players to the club. I only want players who are committed to this club and this area. I will be committed to this area and I expect players to do the same."

Johnson went on, "I share the vision of the board and I think this club has massive potential. I want to take that further. My main aim is to get into the Football League and make sure that we stay there. I am the kind of manager who likes to structure a club from top to bottom. That is what the board want me to do and that is what I intend to do."

According to the press Johnson will continue one idea started by former boss David Webb by insisting that the same playing formation is used by the club's youth, reserve and first teams, ensuring continuity throughout the club. He says, "The structure has to be right and the same throughout the club. I will be speaking with the youth and reserve-team managers and discussing that idea. It will allow players in the reserve and youth teams to realise they can move up if they are playing well. It will also let the first-team players know that if they are not playing well they will be dropped to the reserves."

It seems that Johnson is very keen to build upon Yeovil's already impressive youth system, saying, "Why should players in Somerset at the age of 16 and 17 go to Cheltenham, Wycombe or Reading? We want a set-up where we will tell them that this is where they will improve. If they are good enough for Manchester United, Tottenham or Chelsea we will sell them at the right time. The current state of the game means that if they start at a big club they probably have less than no chance of reaching the first team with the influx of top foreign players. They need to look at a club where they will be developed to the best of their potential and then sold on." Music to John Fry's ears, no doubt!

There is a possibility of up-and-coming Latvian players being attracted to the club, but not immediately - Latvia is at present not a member of the European Union which means that Latvian nationals have to have international caps before they could move to this country. Johnson says, "At present players have to play 75 per cent of games for their international team before they can move abroad. However, recently the FA have become a little more relaxed about this issue. Latvia are set to become members of the EU in the next six months, which will make their players eligible as Europeans. I still have a very good relationship with the president of the Latvian Football Federation and I am sure we will have first pick of their top talent. I would sell Yeovil Town as a possible shop window for players to move into the higher divisions, if they do well and bring success to this club."

It appears that Johnson has already learned one vital lesson to ensure a lengthy stay at Huish Park - agree with the chairman! He has backed plans to introduce play-offs to the Conference next season, saying: "I was very disappointed to hear that there was only one going up. But I think the next best thing is the play-offs which will keep the interest going at the end of the season. If we finish first next season we will be disappointed with the situation at having to play one more game, but if we finish fifth we will be very pleased."

Finally, the Gazette reports that chairman John Fry has denied claims that former Bradford City and Sheffield Wednesday manager Paul Jewell was ever in line for the Yeovil job. It was thought that Jewell, now manager at 2nd Division Wigan, was the man Fry was referring to when he said some weeks ago that he was "99.9% certain" to be the next manager of Yeovil, but the chairman has insisted this is not the case and that Jewell was never in the frame for the job. Fry has declined to say who the mystery man was.

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Tues 19th June 2001
Skivvo Withdraws Transfer Request?

Today's Western Daily Press makes claims that Yeovil Town captain Terry Skiverton has withdrawn his request for a transfer from Huish Park. The popular central-defender, who turns 26 years old next week, was reportedly unhappy with what he saw as being a "lack of ambition" by the club, following their failure to hang onto goalkeeper Tony Pennock and striker Warren Patmore.

However, with the arrival of former Latvian International manager Gary Johnson at Huish Park today, Skivo has given the new man a major boost by withdrawing his request. The timing of the withdrawl, unless it is totally coincidental, would seem to be a ringing endorsement of the new appointment by the Yeovil Town captain.

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Tues 19th June 2001
Gary Johnson Named As New Manager

Gary Johnson

New YTFC manager Gary Johnson.
© BBC Web Site
As widely expected, 45-year-old Scot Gary Johnson has been named as the new manager of Yeovil Town.

The former Cambridge United and Kettering boss, who resigned as manager of the Latvian national side in April, has been given a 2-year contract and will move house from Watford to live in the West Country.

Ciderspace has featured Johnson's career to date on these pages previously (see 10th June news article), but one detail of his career we weren't aware of was brought to light by last week's edition of the Yeovil Express. According to the paper, Johnson, prior to his appointment as assistant manager at Cambridge United, was working as a scout for the club when he saw a 19-year-old forward score 5 goals in one match for Northwood FC. Johnson was sufficiently impressed to recommend the player to U's boss John Beck and a week later the young forward signed for Cambridge United. His name..... Warren Patmore! Ironic then, that one of Johnson's first jobs will be to find a replacement for the former Yeovil striker he was instrumental in discovering. The very best of luck to Gary Johnson in the Yeovil hot-seat from all of us at Ciderspace - if he can find us another Wazza we won't be complaining!

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Sun 17th June 2001
Jewell Heist

Ciderspace has good reason to believe that the candidate for the vacant managerial post at Huish Park who pulled out at the final second, having been declared a 99.9% certainty to sign on the dotted line by Chairman John Fry, was Paul Jewell. The ex-Bradford City and ex-Sheffield Wednesday boss - unemployed since February - was, we hear, in line for a three year contract with The Glovers, but the lure of the unexpected vacancy at the JJB Stadium that materialised when Steve Bruce walked out to go to Cyrstal Palace was too strong. "I've had one or two offers before this came along but I didn't feel they were right," said Jewell. "Once I knew that the Wigan job was available I was immensely attracted to it. As an ex-player, I have a very close affinity with the club."

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Sun 17th June 2001
Ciderspace says: It's Johnson............

......... Joh Fry says little of substance. We'll all know for sure on Tuesday

Yeovil Chairman John Fry was at his oblique best as he avoided actually naming the man who will formally take over the job of manager at Huish Park at a press conference called for next Tuesday morning. Coincidently - we think not - ex-Latvia manager Gary Johnson returns from holiday in the Caribbean on Monday.

Fry says: For the first time I cannot wait to get to work because I am so excited by this appointment. I am here for one reason: to get the club promoted to the Football League and make Yeovil Town wealthy. [That's two reasons, John!] And the interest I have in this manager only makes me want to work twice as hard as I have done in the past. We wanted someone who genuinely wanted to commit himself to the club and who had overseas connections. [Eh?! So that's the key to Yeovil's failures in the past........ no overseas connections? :-)]

He is a hands on manager who wants to build from the bottom upwards. He does not want to work just with the First Teanm squad. I believe he is an honest bloke who is going to be good for this football club, and I know the players will support him. We are not going to put the new man in a strait-jacket - he has got to be able to do things his own way. There will be no interference from the boardroom. We just ask that he keeps us in touch with everything that is going on.
I think we are good enough to win the Conference this season, but to reach the play-offs is the objective. We have all got to work together to achieve promotion, but it won't be a disaster if we don't because we are building for the next two, three, four years.

Screeeech of tyres:
Excuse us Mr Chairman. So why exactly was last season's second place such a disaster that it was necessary to force the previous manager out of the club?
Carry on driver.........

Whoever gives Somerset its first Football League team will be forever a hero down here, and I believe this manager will enjoy the job because I know he will be totally committed.
We are not the Manchester United of Non-League because we haven't been winning things. We're more like Manchester City.
[Well, we certainly change our managers often enough, John.] We don't want to be compared with other clubs [what, like Man City perchance?] and we want to put the past behind us. We just want a manager to win things and balance the books. [So, no pressure then.]

More seriously, having slightly mocked our chairman's tortured used of clichés, Ciderspace sincerely hopes that the new man, and we think it will be Gary Johnson, is left by the board to do things his own way. And, most importantly, is given the time to do so, a gift that has been sadly lacking for the men in the hot-seat at Huish Park for far too many years. To be fair [cliché copyright Ron Atkinson], John Fry has a pretty good record at appointing better than average managers; it's the keeping of them he needs to work at.

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Fri 15th June 2001
The Conference Play-Off Rules

Ciderspace believes these are the rules as currently exist for the play-offs next season. Conference Chief Executive John Moules has been given the brief to work out the 'finer details'.

Play-off Rules

At the end of each season, the five highest placed clubs, who have a ground that has been inspected on or before April 1st in that season, and has achieved a Football League Grading as per their current criteria, shall enter the Play-Off Competition. The club who finishes the season top of the Conference will automatically qualify for the final tie after the play-offs.

The semi-final matches shall be played over two legs with final ties being a single leg. This rule may be varied prior to the season at a properly constituted AGM, EGM or Special Meeting of all clubs, but must not be varied following commencement of the season.

In the semi-finals, the two teams who finish second and third respectively in the Conference, will play away from home in the first leg against the fourth and fifth placed team respectively (based on the qualifying requirements in Item 1 above). Should teams in first, second, third, fourth and fifth not have confirmed Football League Graded Stadiums by 1st April in that season, they will not be able to participate in any of the play-off matches. In the event of any team not able to meet this criteria, the sixth placed team and so on will be invited to participate in any vacancies that occur.

The two highest placed teams will always play away first in semi-final or final ties should they be declared two legged matches. These pairings will be reversed for the second legs of the semi-finals.

In the semi-finals, in the event of the aggregate scores being level at the end of 90 minutes play in the second leg, extra time will be played in two equal periods of 15 minutes. Should one of the teams score a goal during the period of extra time, the match will be considered as finished and the team, which has scored the goal, declared the winner. If the tie is still undecided after the period of extra time, the winners will be determined by the taking of kicks from the penalty spot in accordance with the International Board Decision in the Laws of the Game (i.e. five kicks per team taken alternatively followed by sudden death).

In the finals, in the event that the score is level at the end of 90 minutes play, 30 minutes extra time will be played in two equal periods of 15 minutes. Should one of the teams score a goal during the period of extra time, the match will be considered as finished and the team, which has scored the goal, declared the winner. If the tie is still undecided after the period of extra time, the winners will be determined by the taking of kicks from the penalty spot, in accordance with the International Board Decision contained in the Laws of the Game (i.e. five kicks per team taken alternatively followed by sudden death).

The club who finished the season in top position in the Conference and who automatically qualified for the final tie, will have home advantage in the Champion Final Tie with the play-off winner. [Alternative sources suggest that the top placed team from the regular season will have choice of a neutral venue for the final.]

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Fri 15th June 2001
Latest Conference Odds

Bookmakers Surrey Sports have published their latest odds for the coming season - and already Yeovil have started slipping down the rankings. Formerly solid favourites at 9/4, The Glovers have now been reduced to 6/1 following the turmoil at Huish Park so far this summer.

Those odds in full:

5/1 Stevenage, Doncaster
6/1 Yeovil
7/1 Boston
8/1 Scarborough, Barnet
10/1 Hereford, Dagenham
12/1 Farnborough
20/1 Leigh, Chester, Woking, Morecambe
25/1 Margate, Southport
33/1 Telford, Dover
40/1 Forest Green, Nuneaton
66/1 Hayes, Northwich, Stalybridge

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Fri 15th June 2001
Bazza Wants Southend Move

Following on from reports on the Official Southend Utd Website that Blues manager David Webb has made an offer for striker Barrington Belgrave, the player has been talking to the Southend Evening Echo about the possibility of a move.

Belgrave is quoted in the paper as saying: "I've heard that Southend have made another bid for me and of course I'd be interested. I'm going on holiday at the weekend and I need to call my agent to find out just what is happening. Then I can sit down with my girlfriend and family and decide what my next move is."

Belgrave refused an identical offer from Southend on transfer deadline day last season. He told the paper, "I had to turn down Southend's offer before for personal reasons. I also wanted to help Yeovil get into the Football League and it was best for me to stay with the club at the time. But we didn't make the jump up into Division Three and I don't think I want to play in the Conference for another season."

"I've never made a secret of the fact that I'd like to play for David Webb again as he has played an important role in helping me to develop as a player. If Southend have come in for me again, I think it would be hard to refuse a move to Roots Hall a second time."

The twist in the tail to all this is that Yeovil chairman John Fry has since denied receiving any bid from Southend for Belgrave. Fry has told the YTFC Official Website that if any bid is received it will be deferred until the new manager is in place.

And talking of the new manager, it seems that - at last! - the choice has been made. The club have announced that the new man will be unveiled at a press conference at Huish Park this coming Tuesday (19th June) at 11am.

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Thurs 14th June 2001
Play-offs To Decide Promotion Spot!

It has been decided at today's Conference EGM that next season the best team in the Conference, i.e. the team that finishes 1st in the table, will not necessarily be the team that gets promoted to the Football League. Play-off's will decide who goes up.

Next season (2001-02) the champions of the Conference will go into the final of a play-off. They will be joined by the winners of a knockout between the sides finishing 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th. The winners of the final play-off will be promoted to the Football League. The season will end early by April 27th to accomodate the play-off games and (of course!) to allow Sky TV to screen the play-off games at times most conveient to them. Finally, the Conference has unilaterally decided that from the 2002-03 season they will only accept the same number of clubs from the feeder leagues as are promoted to the Football League, which by our arithmetic equals 1, instead of the 3 accepted at present.

Conference chief executive John Moules said: "Having suffered the disappointment of the Football League AGM what we came here to do was to look at something positive and I think we've done that, not just for the Conference but for football in general at this level. We had a number of options and I believe we have taken a revolutionary step. It will not only make good television viewing but it places the Conference at the forefront of new ideas."

Yeovil chairman John Fry was quick to concur: "These are very positive and very progressive proposals that we hope will lead to a two-up two-down system. They move the ball into (the League's) court and the Conference clubs were happy to apply them. From a Conference point of view, we need these play-off games to generate revenue in an area which is dying. We now need to find out what the League wants. Do they want a Fourth Division of the league? They need to tell us."

At Ciderspace we like to think that we're open to new ideas. We can certainly appreciate that as many clubs as possible need to maximise income for as long as possible during the season and that play-offs are an excellent way of doing that. However play-offs are, in our opinion, only a sensible option when there is more than one promotion place at stake. Where there is only the one promotion place available, then that place must go to the best side in the league - the side that has, over 42 games proved itself as the best by finishing on top of the league. Natural justice demands nothing less.

Anything else demeans the Conference, as does the incredibly petty decision to only accept one team from the feeder leagues from the season after next. If it's wrong for the Football League to only accept 1 team from the Conference each season, then it's equally wrong for the Conference to threaten do the same. Both this and the play-off decision smack of panic and short-termism - and could easily be counter-productive. The idea advanced by Mr Fry that this 'put's the ball into the League's court' is at best ill-advised and more likely simply wrong. The danger must be that the FA and Football League will see these measures as a self-imposed 'solution' to the problem of 2-up/2-down and will be relatively happy to allow the Conference to stew in its own juice for good.

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Tues 12th June 2001
Belgrave Next To Join Southend?

Former manager Dave Webb is trying to increase the Yeovil Town representation at Southend United still further. Having already snapped up Ben Smith and Gareth Risbridger on free transfers from Huish Park this summer, Webb has now made an offer for pacey striker Barrington Belgrave, according to the Official Southend Utd Website.

The offer made by Southend is identical to the offer made by Webb last season for the same player, widely touted as being around the £40,000 mark. Belgrave turned down the move then, saying he wished to concentrate on helping Yeovil's championship challenge. The Yeovil board have said that no players will be bought or sold before the new manager is appointed, whenever that may be, but that didn't stop them selling Paul Steele to Woking for £20,000 last month. It would be no surprise if Belgrave is announced as a Southend player in the very near future.

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Sun 10th June 2001
Les Phillips Cup Draw

Preliminary Round

Welton Rovers v Ilfracombe
Hallen v Taunton Town
Bath City Reserves v Westbury United
Clyst Rovers v Bideford
Bishop Sutton v Wellington
Minehead Town v Melksham Town
Chard Town v Paulton Rovers
Brislington v Team Bath

Ties to be played on Saturday November 3rd, 2001.

Yeovil Town Reserves enter in the First Round proper:

First Round

Dawlish Town v Keynsham Town
Brislington / Team Bath v Bridport
Bitton v Welton Rovers / Ilfracombe
Torrington v Yeovil Town Reserves
Worle St John v Bridgewater Town
Willand Rovers v Clyst Rovers / Bideford
Corsham Town v Shepton Mallet
Barnstaple Town v Larkhall
Devizes Town v Cadbury Heath
Calne Town v Street
Minehead Town / Melksham Town v Bishop Sutton / Wellington
Blackwell United v Bristol Manor Farm
Odd Down v Chard Town / Paulton Rovers
Hallen / Taunton Town v Bath City Reserves / Westbury United
Exmouth Town v Frome Town
Elmore v Warminster Town

Ties to be played on Saturday December 1st, 2001.

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Sun 10th June 2001
Yet Another Name In The Frame

This week's speculation from The Non-League Paper touts yet another name for the managerial vacancy at Huish Park: Gary Johnson. Gary who? You mean you don't know?! Gary Johnson, 45, was manager of the Latvian international team from the summer of 1999 until he resigned from the post on the 26th of April this year. That Gary Johnson.

Johnson is a Scotsman, but his career in the League began in England as second to John Beck at Cambridge United from 1990 to 1992. When Beck left Johnson was initially passed over for Ian Atkins after a spell as caretaker, but took over as manager from 1993-1995. Cambridge in those days were a poor man's Wimbledon, playing the ultimate long-ball game but reaping success with it. The Beck-Johnson axis gained promotion as Champions from Division Three in 1991, and went straight through to Division 1 via the play-offs the next season. They were immediately relegated back down again. Johnson's two virtually complete seasons in sole charge saw a tenth place in 1993-94 and relegation back to Division Three in 1994-95. He parted from the club a few weeks before the end of that season. Cambridge also reached three cup quarter-finals, including the Coca-Cola Cup, during these five years. He is credited with preventing the release of a young striker who initially made little impact in the team, one Dion Dublin. This decision gained Cambridge United £ 1 million when they later sold him to Manchester United. Other players who went on to bigger and better things after playing under Johnson include Steve Claridge, Gary Rowett, Danny Granvill and Micah Hyde.

Johnson joined up with Graham Taylor at Watford as Academy Director, and was just about to move to the position of coach when a trip to Latvia to scout a promising prospect called Marian Pahars brought him to the attention of the Latvians who were looking for a manager for their national side.

Gary Johnson at Watford

Gary Johnson presents the Watford Young Player of the Year Award whilst Latvia's manager, 9th June, 2000
Johnson's time in Latvia was not uncontroversial. Opinions seem sharply divided. Scotland manager Craig Brown personally intervened to support Johnson when he came under pressure this Spring, sending a letter to the Latvian Football Federation describing him as being: held in the highest regard here in Scotland and also among football people in England. Latvia stars Marian Pahars and Imants Bleidelis, both of Southampton, and Bristol Rovers player Vitalijs Astafjevs also called on the LFF to back Johnson. However he was roundly criticised by others, with Johnson's record and tactical ability being called into question. Under Johnson some felt a very creativite side of youthful players abandoned the culture of the passing game and were schooled in ugly kick-and-rush football - perhaps the Cambridge legacy emerging. On the plus side for some of us though, Johnson appears wedded to the flat back four! Further, even his critics conceded that he was a good manager, with excellent organisational abilities, and a shrewd eye in the transfer market. It is his coaching ability where the jury seems to be out. The final departure involved some acrimony with Johnson accused of assaulting a critical local journalist - Fat Harry watch out! Johnson denies the accusations of throwing a flurry of punches: I was on the stairs, and I turned to him, pointed a finger and asked are you happy now? Maybe he lost balance; it was not an attack for sure.

Johnson has also been involved in a managerial capacity at Newmarket Town and Kettering Town during his career, but Ciderspace has been unable to discover much further detail. Initial comment from fans who remember his short time at Rockingham Road has not been favourable.

Whilst always dubious over speculative articles in the Non-League Paper, on this occasion Ciderspace believes there might be something in it. John Fry has confirmed that a manager with international experience has made an application to the club concerning the post. Also the chairman has said that one of the applicants is off on holiday, and Johnson started a vacation in the Caribbean on Saturday. Finally it is rumoured that a figure very similar to the ex-Latvian manager has been seen in John Fry's company. Ciderspace believes that all these little snippets put together strongly suggest that Gary Johnson is a candidate for the post of Yeovil Town's next manager - whether he becomes it is another matter.

Finally, the Non-League Paper includes in its article the claim that the front-runner for the post, who it does not name, fell at the last because he decided against moving his family down to the West Country. This would appear to rule out his identity as being one of a number of names speculated about recently such as Jimmy Quinn and Stuart Pearce, as they already live in the area.

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Sat 9th June 2001
Conference Shafted Once Again

Today's vote by Nationwide League club chairmen was the most predictable result since... er, Thursday. Ciderspace has consistently expressed cynicism that the League had any intention of delivering a reformed promotion and relegation system between Division Three and the Conference. Sadly the news from Chester today confirms our suspicions.

Football League chief executive David Burns announced:
This change has not gone through and I do understand, and indeed share, the concerns of the clubs that these proposals did not fully address the financial effects of losing league status. We have asked the Conference and the Football Association to present a financial proposal that will reassure our clubs and allow them to take a step they are genuinely keen to take. The board of the Football League remains committed to working with the Conference and other interested parties as part of a wider review of promotion and finance within the Football League. We are confident that this will ultimately lead to a successful resolution of this issue.

Quite frankly we don't believe very much of this at all. The claim that League clubs are "genuinely keen" to see increased promotion is laughable considering the rumoured size of the majority against. Whilst the board of the Football League might be credited with having some commitment to a fair resolution of the issue, the vast majority of chairman have displayed their usual commitment to perceived immediate self-interest. Ciderspace has no faith that there is any intention on the part of the majority to do anything other than stall and prevaricate ad infinitum.

The alleged reason that the proposal was turned down is over the issue of parachute payments. As the F.A. and the Conference had already promised to meet these themselves - in itself a ridiculous requirement, the poorer Conference expected to subsidise the Nationwide League which is rolling in money from its latest television deal - and it has been rumoured that a package of half a million pounds was available over two years for each club relegated, Ciderspace sees this as a dissembling excuse. The League is aware that the case for increased promotion places is unanswerable on grounds of fairness, and a real head of steam has been building on this amongst much of the media, many politicians, and a lot of the footballing public over recent weeks and months. Thus obfuscation on some arcane points about parachute payments is obviously a much better route for them in public relations terms than a flat refusal for the real reason: that they are a bunch of self-serving greedy bastards who want to cling on to every advantage they've got, and maintain their virtually closed shop for as long as they can.

Ciderspace predicted [Friday 1st June at the bottom of this page] that the feeble T.V. package the Conference had negotiated with Sky would do us no favours in our pursuit of more promotion places. There are only two routes in our opinion by which the issue won't be constantly referred back and avoided by the League. One is if there is not such a wide gap in the financial remuneration for all clubs in Division Three and the Conference from T.V. and sponsorship. In our opinion the Conference missed an opportunity to get a much better deal from Sky Sports, which is likely to be short of football "fillers" around it's Premiership package next season, having lost Nationwide League football. The window of opportunity was short, as Sky will doubtless already be engaged in the process of finding other things to fill its air-time, and it's been missed. The other route is to try to place direct penalties on the League clubs if they continue to maintain their current position. However the only really effective one we can think of would be a reciprocal denial of promotion places to the Premiership. Whilst we can see the Premiership being quite keen on doing this for their own selfish reasons, we can't see them being interested enough to threaten to do it for our sakes.

Unless one believes that the League clubs do have that genuine keenness to create a proper promotion structure at the bottle-neck between Conference and Third Division, and we don't, it's hard to see where things can go from this massive slap in the face.

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Sat 9th June 2001
White's Warning

And still we wait.... Despite repeated assurances from the board that the arrival of a new manager is imminent (assurances that have been given with regularity for more than a fortnight now), Ciderspace understands that no press conference to announce the name of the new boss has been arranged for this weekend after all, and that it is now unlikely that a new manager will be in place by Monday as widely forecast in this week's local press.

And now, following the departure of Gareth Risbridger, Paul Steele, Warren Patmore, Tony Pennock, Ben Smith, Bradley Peters and Marcus Jones, plus the transfer request and public criticism of the board by club captain Terry Skiverton; central defender Tom White has now added his voice to the chorus of unease around Huish Park.

Speaking on Radio Bristol, out-of-contract White has urged the club to appoint a new manager as soon as possible, saying, "I want to sign a new contract, but Yeovil aren't offering me anything yet because they are waiting for the new manager. I've chatted to one or two other clubs, and if Yeovil keep leaving it I'll have to sign for someone else."

Conference rivals Stevenage are believed to be one of the club's to have offered White a contract. In the meantime, the silence from Huish Park is deafening.

Those wishing to catch the full broadcast of Tom's Radio Bristol interview should tune into Radio Bristol this afternoon (Saturday) between 1pm and 5pm for Alistair Duerden's sports programme. The interview is scheduled to be broadcast around 2.30pm, though this may change depending on news from live sporting events taking priority. The interview is scheduled to last 35 minutes.

Radio Bristol can be reached on 95.5FM, 94.9FM or 1548AM. Ciderspace hope to publish more details of the content of Tom's interview later this weekend.

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Fri 8th June 2001
Just A Bit Of Fun

Peter Snow didn't seem to cover this one so Ciderspace brings you: The Conference Parliament.

Barnet - Con
Boston United - Con
Chester City - Lab
Dagenham & Redbridge - Lab
Doncaster Rovers - Lab
Dover Athletic - Lab
Farnborough Town - Con
Forest Green Rovers - Lab
Hayes - Lab
Hereford United - Lib Dem
Leigh R.M.I. - Lab
Margate - Con
Morecambe - Lab
Northwich Victoria - Lab
Nuneaton Borough - Lab
Scarborough - Lab
Southport - Lib Dem
Stalybridge Celtic - Lab
Stevenage Borough - Lab
Telford United - Lab
Woking - Con
Yeovil Town - Lib Dem

Lab 14, Con 5, Lib Dem 3.

Not a Tory free zone unfortunately, but a few strategic relegations next season could get pretty close to it!

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Thurs 7th June 2001
New Boss To Be Named By Weekend?

According to today's edition of the Western Gazette Yeovil are "99.9%" certain to name the new manager this weekend, more than a month after Colin Addison walked out following criticism from chairman John Fry after Yeovil finished 2nd to Rushden And Diamonds in the Nationwide Conference.

The chairman told the Gazette: "A person is 99.9 per cent committed to the job. Contractual terms and conditions have been agreed and the directors have decided to increase the club's budget out of their own pockets. We spoke with the person last Friday and agreed terms and conditions. We have had a series of meetings this week to discuss budgets and other details surrounding the appointment, but we have been asked not to make an announcement just yet. It is just a matter of dotting the Is and crossing the Ts before we can take things one stage further - but I would expect the new manager to be in place by Monday."

According to the paper, 2 men are in the frame for the job. Former Reading and Swindon boss Jimmy Quinn, and the favourite, current Chester City manager Graham Barrow. At the same time rumours around Yeovil and on the Ciderspace Fans Forum and Mailing List suggest that Salisbury resident and current West Ham defender Stuart Pearce could also be a contender.

Whoever the final choice is, the new man has provisionally agreed a 3-year contract. Fry says of him: "I shall be exceptionally pleased if we get our man. He is a career manager and the right manager for the job - it fits him like a glove. He knows what he is doing and has experience even though he is young - and most importantly he is a winner. He will get the team performing at the highest level and play a brand of football which will win titles not just individual matches."

In the meantime - and not entirely unsurprisingly given the 3rd rise in prices in the last 4 years and all the turmoil at the club lately - season ticket sales appear to be slow. The chairman has appealed to fans to buy them now, saying, "We need supporters to turn out and buy season tickets because without them we cannot achieve our dream of a place in the Football League. We (the board) are putting a great deal of our own money into this club. As much as one third of next season's budget will be funded by the directors - but we cannot do it alone."

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Thurs 7th June 2001
Smith - Yeovil Let Me Down!

The beleagured Yeovil Town board have come in for some strong criticism from former player Ben Smith, who signed for Southend United earlier this week. Speaking to this week's Western Gazette, Ben described Yeovil as a "rudderless ship", and added: "The club has got no leadership and everything seems to be falling apart."

The midfielder goes further in the Southend Evening Echo, saying: "I've left Yeovil as a matter of principle because they have gone back on their word. I agreed a new two-year contract with Yeovil before the end of last season and even shook hands with the chairman on the deal. I didn't ask for written confirmation because I expected Yeovil to honour their promise - everything just needed to be signed and sealed. But as soon as the season was over the club broke their promise. They sacked the manager Colin Addison and offered me a two-month contract instead. I was told this was because they wanted to appoint a new manager before making any decisions on the players' futures. But that wasn't good enough for me. My contract expired at the beginning of May and I wasn't prepared to just sit around in limbo because the next Yeovil manager might not have wanted me. Because of the way Yeovil had treated me I was entitled to a free transfer. I jumped at the chance to join Southend and I don't think I have been disloyal - Yeovil are in the wrong and have let me down."

Chairman John Fry has responded in the Gazette, saying: "There is plenty of leadership at this club. A lot of chairmen go off on their holidays at this time of year but I am here working my socks off."

Fry added: "We have asked the players, respectfully, to wait until a new manager has been appointed before they decide their futures. They have not done this - but what can we do about that? If these players want to move on, they will move on. There is no problem with players. The new manager knows the players he wants and he will bring them in. I have no doubt about his ability to do that."

The message from the top then appears to be: 'No need to worry about players leaving, they're an expendable commodity and can easily be replaced.' And yet Mr Fry expects the players to show loyalty! The appointment of a new manager really cannot come about soon enough, before the chairman's tortured logic drives everyone away from Huish Park.

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Tues 5th June 2001
Tony Pennock Leaves

Yeovil Town's first choice goalkeeper for the last six years, Tony Pennock has signed today for Third Division Rushden & Diamonds on what is believed to be a three year contract.

As many others have been over the years, Tony was an acquisition from Hereford United. He signed on August 1st 1995, and clocked up 312 appearances. Some players spend whole careers on the treatment table, but Tony seemed almost immune to injury. In his time at the club he only missed a handful of games, broken ribs and appendicitis the only times he was out for more than the odd match.

We might forget, in these days of Tony as a seemingly permanent fixture and crowd favourite, that he took a while to gain the confidence of the supporters. Tony Panic was one of the less fair nicknames bestowed on him by someone, though in truth Pennock's handling of the high ball did produce some heart-stopping moments in the early years. However it was an area of his game he worked hard on, and in the last couple of seasons he added a much surer grasp of the cross to his brilliant talents as a shot-stopper.

By the 1999-2000 season he was a firm favourite with the fans, scooping a raft of awards: the Western Gazette Merit Marks Player Of The Season, the YTISA Player Of The Season Award, and second place in the G&WSC Player Of The Season Award, plus second again in the YTFC Internet Fans' Player Of The Season vote. Last season, in a team with a multitude of excellent players, he was the Yeovil Express Player of the Season.

His maturing qualities have seen Tony gain two Semi-Professional International caps for Wales, something, as an up-front Welshman, he is enormously proud of.

One of Pennock's more unlikely stats is in the goals for column, where he features twice for the club. But it's for his work at the more traditional end of the pitch for a goalkeeper that we shall remember him. Outside of Yeovil his greatest claim to fame is the clip that made A Question of Sport - the costly error in extra time in the F.A. Cup Third Round replay against Cardiff City. Doubtless the nation sniggered, but far more to the point was the reception the crowd gave him as he ran out for the next home game. He got a heartfelt ovation from Yeovil fans. Don't know whether it brought a lump to his throat, but it did to mine.

The number of terrific saves Tony Pennock has made to keep us in games over the years are simply countless. It's difficult to pick a favourite performance, but the one that springs to my mind was at Rockingham Road in January 2000. On a pitch drenched by cloud-bursts all afternoon, with a ball like a bar of soap, in about a fifteen minute spell at the end of the match, as the home side laid continuous siege to the Yeovil goal, Tony brought off a string of saves of heroic brilliance, the like of which one sees just a few times in one's life. We won the match by the odd goal.

So, thank you Tony. You have been a tremendous asset to our club and we shall miss you desperately. I never dared hope Yeovil Town would find another Tony Clark, but we did! The best wishes of Ciderspace go with you to Nene Perk, and wherever else your future takes you.

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Mon 4th June 2001
Still No Managerial Announcement

According to Westcountry TV Teletext, Yeovil Town are close to announcing the name of their new manager. Teletext reports:

Yeovil Town chairman John Fry is set to announce the club's new manager after weeks of speculation.

Town now have a shortlist of two, with Barnet boss John Still the favourite to take over following Colin Addison's acrimonious departure.

Fry said: "We know who we want and hopefully we'll make an announcement on Tuesday. It's just a matter of thrashing out the figures."

At Ciderspace we're not sure where Teletext got the quote above from John Fry, nor do we know if John Still really is favourite to take over from Colin Addison (who probably doesn't know whether to laugh or cry at current events at Huish Park). What we do know from reliable sources at the club is that there is no press conference scheduled for tomorrow, so take the above item with as many pinches of salt as you require. Doesn't mean there wont be a hastily-arranged press conference at some point tomorrow of course - anything's possible at Yeovil Town! - but as of now, none has been scheduled.

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Mon 4th June 2001
2000-2001 Conference Awards

The following awards were made at the Conference AGM at Chester on Saturday June 2nd:

Manager of the Year Trophy - Brian Talbot (Rushden & Diamonds)
Player of the Year Trophy - Duane Darby (Rushden & Diamonds)
Goalscorer of the Year Trophy - Duane Darby (Rushden & Diamonds)

Team of the Year (as voted by Nationwide Conference Managers):
Goalkeeper: Wayne Brown (Chester City)
Right Back: Tarkan Mustafa (Rushden & Diamonds)
Centre Backs: Terry Skiverton (Yeovil Town); Scott Guyett (Southport)
Left Back: Paul Underwood (Rushden & Diamonds)
Midfield: Darren Way ( Yeovil Town); Geoff Pitcher (Kingstonian); Nick Crittenden (Yeovil Town)
Forwards: Duane Darby (Rushden & Diamonds); Justin Jackson (Rushden & Diamonds); Steve Jones (Leigh RMI)

Programme of the Year: Doncaster Rovers

Nationwide Conference Fair Play Award: Hereford United

The following 'Conference News Awards' given during the season were ratified:

Goalscorer of the Month Awards:
August: Duane Darby (Rushden & Diamonds)
September: Marc McGregor (Nuneaton Borough)
October: Tony Black (Leigh RMI) and Ken Charlery (Boston United)
November: Marc McGregor (Nuneaton Borough)
December: Mark Quayle (Morecambe)
January: Duane Darby (Rushden & Diamonds) and Warren Patmore (Yeovil Town)
February: John Norman (Morecambe)
March: Steve Jones (Leigh RMI)
April / May: Darren Collins (Kettering Town)

Performance of the Month Awards:
August: Dover Athletic
September: Hednesford Town
October: Leigh RMI
November: Kingstonian
December: Dover Athletic
January: Southport
February: Dagenham & Redbridge
March: Hayes
April/May: Hereford United

Manager of the Month Awards:
August: Brian Talbot (Rushden & Diamonds)
September: Brian Talbot (Rushden & Diamonds) and David Webb (Yeovil Town)
October: Jim Harvey (Morecambe)
November: Keith Alexander (Northwich Victoria)
December: Colin Addison (Yeovil Town)
January: Brian Talbot (Rushden & Diamonds)
February: Gary Hill (Dagenham & Redbridge) and Colin Lippiatt (Woking)
March: Garry Hill (Dagenham & Redbridge)
April/May: Steve Evans (Boston United)

Our congratulations go to all concerned.

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Mon 4th June 2001
Webb Hooks Ben Smith

According to the Shrimpers Net website, out-of-contract midfielder Ben Smith has signed for Southend United, joining former Yeovil manager Dave Webb and fellow midfielder Gareth Risbridger at Roots Hall.

Ben has joined Southend on a free transfer, despite being under 24 and therefore not eligible for a 'Bosman' move. According to Shrimpers Net website Yeovil protested to the PFA about the fact that no fee was involved, but had their protest rejected. Ciderspace understands that because the player had a contract offered to him by the Yeovil board and then withdrawn, Smith was then permitted to move for free. If no contract had been offered in the first place, or if Smith had turned down the contract offered by Yeovil then a fee - probably set by a tribunal - would have been paid. As it is yet another player has been allowed to slip through our fingers and for nothing. Another triumph of management by the Yeovil Town board!

Ben Smith played a total of 143 games for The Glovers, scoring 17 goals. Ben can be a hugely frustrating player to watch, but at the same time is blessed with more natural talent than most players and when motivated is good enough to play at a much higher level. Probably his best performances for Yeovil came under Dave Webb's tutelage - we wish him the best of luck at Roots Hall.

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Mon 4th June 2001
Wazza Is A Diamond

Out-of-contract striker Warren Patmore has this afternoon informed Ciderspace that he has signed a 3-year contract with Rushden And Diamonds. As his contract had expired, Yeovil will receive no fee.

Warren returned from holiday this weekend to find no improved offer on the table from Yeovil Town (he had previously been offered a 1-year extension to his part-time contract by the board) and no sign of the new manager the club desperately needs. The offer from Rushden would not have been kept open forever, therefore he was left with little alternative but to sign for Brian Talbot's side. An interview with the player will appear on this site later this week.

Wazza scored a total of 140 goals for Yeovil in the 6 seasons he was here, from a total of 290 appearances. He was unquestionably one of the best strikers ever to have played for Yeovil Town and was wanted by clubs as diverse as Rushden, Stevenage, Woking, Farnborough and Southend United. One can only speculate as to how the Yeovil board intend to replace him. All of us at Ciderspace wish Wazza the very best of luck in the future - we're gutted he's gone.

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Sun 3rd June 2001
League Cup Scrapped

One of the first pieces of news to emerge from Saturday's Conference AGM at Chester is that the League Cup, which has gone under a number of names during its existence - the National Variety Club Trophy last season - will not take place in 2001-02. About as popular with fans as an under-attended irrelevance on a wet Tuesday night [ Isn't that a description rather than a simile? Ed.] it's hard to think of anyone who won't agree with this piece of common sense.

The AGM also discussed the issuing of next season's fixture list. It is expected it will be published in the second week of July, shortly after the Premiership and Nationwide League fixtures.

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Fri 1st June 2001
Never Knowingly Over-Sold

Whilst welcoming the T.V. exposure the Conference will be getting through the accommodation with Sky next season, with its implications for club sponsorship deals and the general higher profile it will give this league with the general footballing public, the bottom line, as ever, is money. What will the twenty-two clubs involved get out of the proposed ten live games, weekly highlights, possible F.A. Trophy coverage, and even more hypothetical play-off games that could be broadcast?

The Premiership deal is £ 1.67 billion over three years. The Nationwide Football League deal is £ 315 million over three years. The going rate for one F.A. Cup First Round match is £ 150,000 (£ 75K to each club). So what great deal have John Moules and the Conference executive got us from Sky? Apparently £ 200 thousand. Each? That's not too bad. Unfortunately no:
£ 200 thousand to be divided up between the twenty-two teams - so £ 9,090.91p (approx.!) each. Those Sky executives must have been squirming in their seats as John "Harry the Haggler" Moules and his team got to work on them.

Much as Ciderspace supports the Play Fair for the National Game campaign we can see that League chairman might be wondering if they really want to increase the risk of their financial futures being in the hands of a Conference executive if this is the best we can do! Coming on top of, in our opinion, a poor deal over the renewal of Nationwide sponsorship (Ciderspace News: 17th April) the time for the Conference to get its act together in the commercial world is well overdue.

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This Page Written By Martin Baker/Jon Morgan/Hugh Gleave
©Ciderspace 1999-2001
Last Updated 28th June 2001


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