Yeovil Town confirmed their place in history yesterday by winning the Conference Championship title with a best-ever total of 95 points after their 1-1 draw with Chester City, beating the previous record of 94 points. Kevin Gall's 8th minute strike ensured the Glovers attained the 100 league goals target set by the players themselves, and the 17 point gap between the top spot and 2nd-placed Morecambe is a new Conference record, beating the existing 15 point margin set by Wycombe in the '92-'93 season. By avoiding defeat yesterday the club also set a new record by only losing 3 matches throughout the season, beating the previous best of 4 defeats held by Colchester; and the Glovers goal difference of +63 is again a new record, beating the previous best of +58, again set by Colchester.
The fans themselves created new records: Yesterday's crowd of 8,111 was the highest throughout the league this season and ensured that the Glovers average attendance of 4,741 beat the previous highest average attendance of 4,602 set by Wycombe during the 92-93 season; a total attendance throughout the season of 99,561 - and that when the first 5 matches were played 20-odd miles away in Dorchester!
But it's not just about breaking records - yesterday was a day of celebration, the day when the Glovers finally became a Football League club in all but name. Credit to Chester - resting several key players ahead of the forthcoming play-offs (and how pleased are we at Ciderspace that we are not involved in them?!), they took the game to their hosts after Gall's 8th minute opener and despite the 69th minute red card for elbowing for Jon Brady, thoroughly deserved their 85th minute equaliser from Kevin McIntyre, the 1-1 scoreline being a fair reflection of the 90 minutes.
Final score: Yeovil Town 1 Chester City 1.
Speaking after the game Glovers boss Gary Johnson praised the visitors, saying: "There were a few big tackles early on and Gavin Williams rode three of them for the first goal! They wanted to close us down and stop us playing football and to be fair to them they did just that. They stopped us playing our best football - on the day we needed that second goal so you have to give them credit. They’ve come here and not just joined our party, they’ve made sure they were going to give us a good game and I suppose that’s the professionalism of them and the professionalism of us - we were still competing in all those challenges and it made it a good game, but I'd still like to have won it."
The scenes at the end of the match when the Championship Trophy was presented to club captain Terry Skiverton will live on in the memory for years to come. "Great celebrations," Gary agreed. "I said to the boys in the tunnel - it wasn’t about today, it's about what they’ve done all season, and that’s why they’ve deserved what happened at the end of the game. I had to pick them up in the tunnel as you know they don’t like not winning and for Chester to get the goal to make it a draw disappointed all of us really. But we knew we had to go back out that tunnel with smiles and obviously the crowd started cheering us and we got presented with the Trophy, and then the realism suddenly came upon us and we realised what we’d done and celebrated accordingly!"
Asked to comment on Kirk Jackson coming second in the overall Conference goal-scoring stakes to Doncaster's Paul Barnes Gary said: "I was disappointed for Kirk but as far as I'm concerned he’s been the top goal scorer in the league for me because he’s only played half a season for us and still got 19 goals. He wont mind, he’s our Golden Boot man and thank god we found somebody like him to come into our squad and get the goals that were so important at that time. He is a good player and I'm very pleased to have him on board."
Darren Way swept the board in the various player of the season awards and was described as "a little terrier" in the press conference after the match. Gary agreed, saying: "And he finished the season like it as well didn’t he? But we say well done to him and I say well done to everyone in the squad. They all have ability and they all have certain strengths and the way they marry it together with their commitment and their passion is why you have a championship winning football team. They’ve done that all season and I'm proud of them all."
"We have the Somerset Cup on Tuesday which is the next game we all have to look forward to, and we're here until May 11th - that’s our official function and up until then the boys will want to train. Five of our boys have been selected for the non-league international tournament at the end of May so credit to them and they will need to keep training and keep fit, so their seasons by no means over, but this group of boys just want to go on playing."
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