On a quiet late lunch hour, I noted Yeovil Town blog Best Team in the West, had done their best to hype up this Saturday’s match with ‘Five Reasons to Hate Doncaster Rovers’. An enjoyable read, and an admirable effort to bring some meaning to what is an otherwise nondescript league fixture – for both teams.
So it seems only fair to reciprocate, after all, what is football rivalry if not a serious of irrational hatreds. If they can find reason to hate us, then I sure as hell will find reason to hate them, after all this is a town built on the glove trade. Who even lives there, besides magicians and snooker referees? And while we’re at it, given the relative football strengths of their locality, Best Team in the West is a pretty empty boast. It’s like claiming to be the best golfer in Greenland, or Rotherham’s biggest heartthrob.
Anyway, here goes. Eyes down, look in. Five reasons to hate Yeovil.
It’s in the middle of nowhere, thrice
If it wasn’t for football, no-one would know where Yeovil is. Even with football, no-one’s truly sure. Past Bristol, but not quite Devon. A weird hinterland between the rise of city hipsterism and where you once went on a rain-drenched clotted-cream fuelled holiday. Not even the trains know where it is. In the Victorian age the railways came to cities and towns nationwide, just not Yeovil, instead they just made a half-arsed effort to go in its vague direction. Acknowledged it, but steered well clear, like a dull colleague on a works night out.
Town in middle of nowhere, station in middle of nowhere… guess where the stadium is? Yep, that’s right, in the middle of f***ing nowhere. Perched on a trading estate, like a participant in an identity parade where the crime was committed by a giant nondescript box of corrugated metal and breezeblocks. ‘I’m sorry, it could be any of them officer. They all look the same’. I had a Bulgarian taxi driver when I was last in Yeovil, I asked him why he’d chosen to live there of all places. He replied ‘Small town, small problems,’ good answer, but in hindsight I suspect the truth is, ‘because I drive a taxi and everything is in the middle of f***ing nowhere’. Mind, I should’ve guessed when he took my fare and used it to light his cigarette, laughing.
Yeovil’s ground is the only one in England named after the noise a bus makes when it stops. It’s also one of those early new-build grounds, like Scunthorpe and Walsall, when architects seemingly decided to do away with pencils and see what they could design with Meccano instead. Subsequently it’s as no-frills functional as they come – the football equivalent of a Parkway rail station; where once there was character, now there’s just grey. The soulless, funless sods didn’t even try and replicate the notorious slope that had been the most famous feature of their old pitch. Apparently the site of the old Huish is now a Tesco Extra supermarket. Presumably in certain aisles you don’t have to push the trolley, but it’s quite a long arduous slog back up to the check-outs.
I don’t even know if he’s still their manager, it just seems safe to assume so. In the same way that Martin Allen is always in charge at Barnet, and Lee Fowler is always wherever Dean Saunders is. If it’s not Johnson it’ll be Terry Skiverton or Darren Way or some other such former player who can’t leave the south west owing to their chronic fear of modernity. The sort of people who still have the key sounds on full volume on their 3310, and who sit in the other room whilst Sky Plus-ing anything so as not to get the noise of their tea slurps on the recording of Silent Witness.
Anyway, Johnson. I’ve never liked him – ever since he gleefully took all the credit for Latvia’s qualification for Euro 2004, telling anyone who asked, and many who didn’t, that he got the Latvians to stop playing their ‘traditional Soviet way’ and instead encouraged them to play ‘the Gary Johnson way’ thus completely changing the fortunes of the Baltic nation. And fair play, he did that, propelling them 39 places in the FIFA rankings… downwards, from 55th to 94th. An absolute chancer, happily offering up fake news and alternative facts to suit his own ends, long before such a thing was the soul-crushing norm.
The press entrance at Huish Park
Tying together the two points above is the fact that if you want to get in to the cupboard that doubles as the press room at Huish Park you have to do so by entering Gary Johnson’s arse. It’s the sort of shit there ought to be counselling for. It’s been three years, but I still occasionally find myself standing still at green lights, caught in a trance, never quite forgetting.
Imagine John Terry without the talent; if you’ve ever encountered Paul Terry then you don’t have to. Yeovil humoured him for four years, God knows how, I rarely made it to half-time in any match he featured in without hurling a far from flattering name his way. A loathsome, thuggish carthorse of a footballer and sleazing oaf off the pitch, he’s every inch his brother’s sibling. Apparently he’s an agent now. Figures.
Of course, like Best Team in the West, this largely tongue-in-cheek. Well, aside from the bit about Paul Terry… and Gary Johnson… and the press entrance… and some of the other bits too come to think of it. But I don’t mind Yeovil. Just so long as I don’t need to go there, they’re alright by me.