Remember when we feared Yeovil? Bogey team. ‘We always lose to Yeovil’. No more. Four games, four wins. Thirteen goals to one. It’d be lovely to play them every week; that is if they were decidedly nearer and didn’t regularly pitch up at our place in the worst away kits ever conceived. Continue reading Yeovil Town 0-3 Doncaster Rovers: 250 word match report
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. Continue reading Five Reasons to Hate Yeovil Town
‘Past his sell-by date’ and ‘living off his reputation for far too long;’ just a couple of early season observations of James Coppinger that were blown out the water against Yeovil. On his 498th appearance the club captain delivered a vintage performance to spur Rovers on to a third successive win. Continue reading Doncaster Rovers 4-1 Yeovil Town: 250 word match report
‘Aye, but it’s Yeovil… we never beat bloody Yeovil’. Thankfully the doom of the old fella I told to cheer up was ill-mongered, as our one time bogey side were despatched for a third time in four meetings. Continue reading Doncaster Rovers 3-0 Yeovil Town; 250 word match report
It began in untypical opening day fashion with Rovers looking lively from the off. This attacking style was rewarded on eight minutes as Harry Forrester slotted Curtis Main through to coolly dink the ball over the onrushing keeper for 1-0. Continue reading Yeovil Town 0-3 Doncaster Rovers; 250 Word Match Report
Amongst all the off-field wrangling and boardroom posturing it may have actually escaped your notice that Rovers have a match tonight. And not just any match either as we host our bogey team Yeovil Town in front of Sky’s many cameras allowing viewers across the nation to watch us to capitulate to a solitary strike late in the first half. This isn’t the first time Rovers have hosted The Glovers live on television though; ten years ago a Conference match between the two teams met at Belle Vue was also broadcast live by Murdoch’s satellite conglomerate.
Yeovil, celebrating a league title secured by Chester’s draw with Woking earlier that afternoon, went on to win 4-0 in that last televised fixture, but much has changed in the decade since. Via the play-offs Rovers also went up that season and the two sides have continued to grow, to the point where tonight they will meet in a fourth different division in a decade. But whilst Yeovil have followed the Rovers up to the second tier, what became of the 35 other teams Rovers came up against in Conference fixtures? As you’ll see from our round-up below, the incredible truth is that a quarter of them no longer exist.
Earlier this week we were admonished on twitter by fanzine reader and Yeovil fan Seb White who was none too impressed with a reference in Issue 60 to the “hot air boasts” of Glovers manager Gary Johnson. There is, we replied, much more where that comes from; most notably a whole double page feature penned by our now editor of popular STAND from back in February 2004. So here is that very article, which initially appeared in issue 25 of the fanzine, where Glen Wilson celebrates Great Things Gary Johnson Has Done.
Great Things Gary Johnson Has Done
Back in mid-January The Observer carried an article about the current lack of English managers in football. Accompanying this piece was a table of ‘the highest rated English managers outside the top flight’, and amongst the eighteen names listed was that of Gary Johnson. Here is a man who has attracted a lot of attention recently, firstly for Yeovil’s promotion and secondly, as anyone who watched the BBC’s coverage of Yeovil versus Liverpool in the FA Cup 3rd round would have noticed, for Latvia’s qualification for Euro 2004.
Apparently, the current Yeovil boss 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. But just how much of an impact did Johnson make on Latvia? Well, I thought I’d check.
When Johnson took over in the summer of 1999 Latvia were sitting in third place in their Euro 2000 qualifying group. Johnson’s arrival had an instant effect… they finished fourth. However, Johnson would show his true worth when he took control of Latvia’s 2002 World Cup qualifying campaign from the start. Before returning to England in April 2001 the Londoner had guided Latvia to a fantastic fourth place in group 6, with four points earned through an away win and a home draw against noted football superpower San Marino.
A fantastic and successful two years, but obviously its harsh to judge Johnson’s reign solely on Latvia’s qualification record. Instead the best measure of his success surely comes through FIFA’s World rankings. Johnson it seemed helped to propel Latvia a whopping 39 places in FIFA’s pecking order as he expertly steered them from 55th, to 94th. The facts speak for themselves. What a man. How anyone can fail to give Gary Johnson full credit for Latvia’s qualification for Euro 2004 two years after he had left is beyond me. Always in awe of true genius at popular STAND we felt we should pay tribute to Johnson’s other achievements.
Winning the Eurovision Song Contest
Johnson’s influence on the rise of all things Latvian had already come to prominence in 2002, when he single-handedly took the Baltic nation to Eurovision glory. “Well when I got involved they weren’t having much luck, they had some talented individuals like, but y’know they were still trying to sing songs the Soviet way,” Johnson told the press. “However I had a look at things and I’d seen this girl Marija Naumova singing in a Gershwin tribute thing so I brought her in on a free and then got them to approach Eurovision the Gary Johnson Way and obviously its paid off”. Johnson claims to have also implemented the name change that saw Naumova compete in the contest as Marija N. “It were just a bit more catchy y’know and that’s the Gary Johnson Way,” said the Londoner who is also believed to have written Marija N’s song ‘I Wanna’. “It’s a great result for this country,” commented Johnson at the time, “and I’m glad to have been involved.”
Finding Saddam Hussein
Having abandoned their search for seemingly mythical Weapons of Mass Destruction (or ‘Colin Sutherland’s as we know them), the Allied forces in Iraq had instead resorted to playing a nine month long game of Hide and Seek with former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. With time fast approaching Saddam’s turn to count and still no sign of the dictator things were looking bleak for the British and American governments, that is, until Gary Johnson took control. “They’d been looking around for months with no luck, but they were still trying to do things the Army way. So I went in there, got the lads together, shook things up a bit and we started doing things the Gary Johnson way, or Operation Red Dawn as we called it,” Johnson told reporters. “Anyway, they took my new approach on board like and within a couple of days he’d turned up in a hole in the ground beneath a farm-house ten miles south of Tikrit. I was getting messages throughout the search about how things were going like, so it’s obviously a great result for the boys to be fair.”
Inventing the Internet
In the mid 1990s civilization took one giant leap forward as the world-wide web finally took off; the result of many decades of research, the Internet took communication to a new level. Many prominent figures tried to take credit for its invention, notably American politician Al Gore, however the man at the forefront of a technological revolution was none other than Yeovil manager Gary Johnson. “They’d spent decades on research towards the internet, but they’d got bogged down doing things the scientific way and to be honest it was time they took a new approach,” says Johnson. “So I went in there and got them working the Gary Johnson way and y’know the results speak for themselves. Obviously the information super highway is a great result for those lads, so I’m made up for them.”
At the start of the 1970s, as the Beatles went their separate ways, John Lennon was looking to write a song with real meaning. Suffering from writer’s block he was struggling to put pen to paper; Gary Johnson takes up the story. “He’d been in the group so long he was still trying to do things the Beatles Way and obviously it weren’t getting him anywhere, so I’ve gone over there and I’ve taken John aside and said obviously y’know, things aren’t working out here lets take stock and try a different approach. So then I’ve got him doing things the Gary Johnson way. We’ve brought in The Plastic Ono Band and those lads have done a great job, and then I come up with this concept of there being no heaven, y’know, above us only sky and we’ve just gone from there.”
Yeovil, short for ‘All Up In Yeovil’, is a town in Somerset, made infamous by its prevalent gang culture. For decades the town has been the setting of a prominent gang war between the Pen Mill Crew in the Eastside and the Westsiders from the Preston Plucknett Ghetto, making it the gun crime capital of the UK, and the go-to setting for many gritty urban films and video shoots. The original Grand Theft Auto video game used the town as its basis, and Yeovil has also been the setting for countless Spike Lee films.
What’s it famous for?
Gloves. Apparently a town can become prosperous on the back of making your hands warm, or given it’s gangster past, more likely, avoiding leaving prints on your fire-arms. However, Yeovil’s prominence in the world of glove means that to this day it remains a popular hang out for magicians and snooker referees alike. Up until his death in 2009 celebrated glove wearer Michael Jackson also often frequented Yeovil, indeed his 1975 hit ‘We’re Almost There’ was penned whilst waiting for a delayed connecting service to Yeovil Pen Mill.
How does one blend in?
Gloves. Stick on as many gloves as possible. Wear your jeans halfway down your arse, perfect your best gangsta roll and hang out near the Radio Shack on the corner of Franklin and 4th. You get me bro.
You’re Just a Small Town in…
Somerset. If you’re fond of accurate football songs then that’d be the ideal ending. Given the lack of large towns in this part of the South West then actual mock endings to the popular refrain are short in supply, so we suggest ending with ‘the grand scheme of things’.
What’s the Stadium like?
Yeovil’s Huish Park is the only ground in the England named after the noise a bus makes when it stops. A relatively modern football ground it was built in 1990, and is situated on the edge of town so visiting fans don’t get caught up in the town centre turf wars.
The modern-day Huish Park replaced Yeovil’s old Huish ground which gained notoriety for its famous sloping pitch, which would often give visiting goalkeepers altitude sickness, and was used in the close-season for Cheese-rolling contests. The site of the old Huish is now a Tesco Extra supermarket, where in certain aisles you don’t have to push the trolley, but it’s quite a long arduous slog back to the check-outs.
Away supporters are housed on the Copse Road terrace behind the left-hand goal, or the right-hand goal if you’re standing on the other side. The terrace is open to the elements, so make sure you’ve memorised the periodic table before setting off.
How do I get to the Stadium?
I’m not a driver, so forgive these slightly vague directions. Head towards Birmingham, once you get there, go past it towards Bristol. Once you get there head south on the A37 to Yeovil. Just before Yeovil, take the 3rd exit on the roundabout for Thorne Lane and then keep going along there looking out the window for floodlights.
Yeovil has two train stations, only one of which, Pen Mill, is actually in Yeovil, so head towards that one. From the station you can get a number 68 bus into the centre of town if you dare, or you can take a taxi straight to the ground.
Lastly, any familiar faces in the Yeovil side?
James Hayter should be familiar enough, and if he’s not now, the inevitable goal he scores this afternoon should help jog your memory. Yep, that’s the fella. Also at Yeovil is ex-Rover Byron Webster, the central defender having joined the Glovers in the summer after spending last season at Northampton Town. Manager Gary Johnson should also be familiar, he being the man who took the credit for everything any football club ever achieved in the early 2000s during his first spell at Huish Park.
James Hayter has gone. Released at the end of the season, he this week joined Yeovil Town amidst generally wistful clattering from Rovers fans; tweets and forum posts wishing him well and commenting on how he’ll always be remembered for THAT goal. Because James Hayter didn’t score a goal at Wembley against Leeds, he scored THAT goal. His place in Rovers’ folklore seemingly defined by randomly deployed capitalisation.
There are some footballers whose spell at one club, or perhaps even their entire career can be defined by a single goal. Roy Essendoh is one. Theo Streete another. Whatever else they have gone on to achieve in the professional – or in Theo’s case semi-professional – game, their respective careers peaked in one unexpected goal, an FA Cup Quarter-Final winner, the last goal at Belle Vue. James Hayter does not belong in this group. And so let us not wedge him ungraciously into the same pigeon-hole, because his five years at Rovers were far from a fleeting moment.
The chief issue I have with folk saying “he’ll always be remembered for THAT goal”, is that his play-off winner is only third on my own list of goals to remember James Hayter by. When it comes to the play-off final, I remember the occasion and the significance before I remember the goal. Indeed, had I not watched it multiple times since then I’d have struggled to describe Hayter’s winner. I knew Stock crossed it, but only because it was a corner and Stock took corners, and I knew Hayter headed it home, but in the euphoria of reaching the second tier I’d have been hard pressed to have offered any greater detail than that. No, instead I remember two other Hayter goals with more fondness and much greater clarity.
I have only ever seen one bicycle kick scored by a Rovers player; James Hayter scored it. At home and struggling to break down the League leaders Leyton Orient in November 2007, Sean O’Driscoll threw on Jason Price at the break and Rovers romped home to a glorious 4-2 victory. Hayter’s goal put Rovers 3-2 ahead; a scramble in the South Stand penalty area saw Paul Green drill a shot goalwards, it bounced back off the Orient ‘keeper and in a split second Hayter managed to react to execute a perfect overhead bicycle-kick to send the ball into the roof of the net. It’s perhaps not the most aesthetically pleasing overhead you’ll ever see, and it’s scored from just four yards out, but the speed of reaction to recognise the opportunity and then execute the volley perfectly is genuinely stunning, and perhaps encapsulates Hayter’s opportunism as a forward. Before Billy Sharp arrived he was our opportune fox in the box, with an intelligence to find a half second or half chance, and the strength and composure to turn that into a goal.
I have never seen a braver player than James Hayter in a Rovers shirt. I have seen harder men (Colin Sutherland), I have seen players who displayed significant physicality (Mark Albrighton, Darren Moore), but there have been none braver than Hayter. He will throw his head at absolutely anything; awkward bouncing balls in a penalty area that you’d struggle to get a toe at, become, in the eyes of James Hayter and he alone, heading opportunities.
The standard line amongst our group in the stands should Hayter ever miss the target with his feet is “He should have put his head on it”, and it’s often meant with greater sincerity than we perhaps let on. He is capable of the sort of headers only previously scored in comic strips; thunderous, unstoppable, flying horizontally to meet the ball, Exocets beyond the capability or even the comprehension of us mere mortals. His finest demonstration of this skill came not at Wembley, but at Victoria Park. Rovers broke forward, from the right edge of the area James Coppinger stood up a cross, and Hayter, charging at full-speed somehow made up ten yards during his flight to hurl himself inhumanely at the ball. No care for the looming boot of the Hartlepool centre-half, all that existed in Hayter’s mind was his head, a football and a goal. No other Rovers player in my time watching could have scored that goal.
In five years with Rovers Hayter was rarely the main man, the majority of his 170 appearances coming in the shadows of Paul Heffernan or Billy Sharp, but when given half a chance, be it in the box, or in the team, he rarely failed to deliver. He brought determination, an intensity, and as mentioned, bravery which we would truly have struggled to find in any other Championship striker over the past four years, all assets which helped him become the first Rovers player to pick up the second tier Player of the Month Award in November 2010.
Perhaps now was the right time for Hayter to move on, time for a new challenge, time to be closer to family, and so I join those in wishing James Hayter well for the future. But remember that Yeovil have signed a thirty-three year-old striker rather than a four-year-old goal, and so let us not define five years of commitment and service by a single header, no matter how satisfying or well taken. Hayter may have scored THAT goal, but he gave Rovers much, much more.
The two personal Hayter highlights I’ve picked out above can be found in the video below; his bicycle-kick against Leyton Orient 33 seconds in, and his Roy-of-the-Rovers-esque diving header against Hartlepool after 1min 23 seconds.