Glovers leg­end has new chance to in­spire

The Football League Paper - - MARATHON PROFILE - By Chris Dunlavy

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.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

PUMPED UP: Skiver­ton in his Yeovil play­ing days SHOUT-OUT: Terry Skiver­ton is call­ing the shots again at Huish Park

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