Glovers legend has new chance to inspire
TERRY Skiverton a bigtime Charlie? Those who’ve worked with the Yeovil legend these past 15 years will surely vouch that he’s anything but.
“He was a great captain,” said former Glover Jamie Gosling. “He had time for everyone and was so down to earth. He played with such commitment and his influence in that dressing room was immense.”
Every Yeovil player expresses similar sentiments, yet ‘Skivo’ wasn’t always the level-headed leader of men so beloved at Huish Park. As a teenager, the East Ender was on the books at Chelsea. His coaches were Graham Rix and Glenn Hoddle, his team-mates Ruud Gullit and Mark Hughes. He dreamed of playing in the Premier League.
So when release in 1996 was followed by moves to Wycombe and then Conference side Welling, the young Skiverton thought he was playing a mile below his level.
“By then, you could make a good living in Non-League football and it had a lot of quality,” he recalls.“But I didn’t realise that. I didn’t show the level nearly enough respect. I thought I would set the world alight. I believed I was a bit too good and I got a few roastings before I wised up.”
Suitably chastened, Skiverton then set about forging the lowerleague career he’d once scorned, first at Welling and then, from 1999, at Yeovil.
Signed by the late Colin Lippiatt (“He saved my career,” said Skiverton.“I was going nowhere and without Colin taking that gamble I wouldn’t have had the career, the life or the family I’m blessed with today”), Skiverton made his debut in a friendly against lowly Bradford Abbas of the Yeovil and District League. Stamford Bridge it wasn’t.
Yet 16 years on, he has played 382 games, scored 42 goals, skippered the Glovers all the way from the Conference to League One, won promotion to the Championship as coach and, as of last week, is now in his second spell as manager.
If Gary Johnson was the mastermind of the Glovers’ golden decade, Skiverton was his finest general; no player – arguably in the club’s history – has been so influential.
“Skivo was the main man,” confirms Lee Johnson, son of Gary, a long-time team-mate at Huish Park and now manager of Oldham.
“He took to what my dad wanted, like stopping the consumption of alcohol. Terry passed it on to all the lads so he was certainly a big factor in Yeovil’s success.
“If the captain goes the other way to the manager, the lads tend to follow him. He was a massive part of changing the ethos of the Yeovil Town players.
“He had everything to play at the levels he has done – and the only thing he probably did not have to play at the top level was that pace which you need in the modern era. He certainly had everything else – football brain, bravery, reading of the game and leadership.”
Johnson’s views are supported by Warren Patmore, another former team-mate who says Skiverton was management material even as a player.
“Off the field he was a fun guy to be around and there was a bit of banter, but on the field you can see why he is captain,” said Patmore, voted Yeovil’s greatest ever player by supporters.
“He had that heart-on-sleeve effort, determination and passion to win games. He had respect from 99 per cent of the players. And even as captain, his man-management skills were first-rate.
“He knew when to gee up someone and he knew when to put an arm around someone and tell them ‘You can do it’. He knew when to get serious. It was obvious where he was heading.”
That moment arrived in February 2009 when Russell Slade was dismissed with Yeovil languishing at the foot of League One. Then just 33, Skiverton remained at the helm for almost three years, each time keeping the Glovers up on a shoestring budget.
Having racked up a century of matches, Skivo agreed to revert to assistant when Johnson returned in January 2012; the pair had a heart-to-heart in which Johnson said he wouldn’t take the job unless his old mate agreed. The result – famously – was Yeovil’s first-ever promotion to the Championship in 2013.
Now, following relegation and a poor campaign in League One, Johnson is gone and Skiverton is back at the helm alongside former team-mate Darren Way.
“If anyone can keep Yeovil up, it’s them,” said Johnson this week. “They have been great coaches and great players over the years for me. They have both got a big career in the game and that’s genuine.”
PUMPED UP: Skiverton in his Yeovil playing days SHOUT-OUT: Terry Skiverton is calling the shots again at Huish Park