THE GLOVERS, DON T FIT
SHERIDAN ROBINS looks at the fall from grace of her beloved Yeovil Town over the last couple of years and asks whether the highs were worth the lows…
SUPPORTING a football club engraves both euphoric and devastating moments into your memory. But would anyone sacrifice the ecstasy in order to avoid the dark days? Many would say: “Of course not.” However,Yeovil Town have suffered such a monumental fall from grace after becoming the fairytale story less than three years ago that it’s something I’ve often thought about.
“Ten years ago Yeovil Town were playing in the Conference – next season they will be playing in the Championship.”
Those were the words that the Sky commentators uttered as the Glovers secured promotion after a 2-1 Wembley win over Brentford in 2013.
This was an achievement that was admired by many and shocked even more due to the lack of funds at Huish Park.
The following season was, admittedly, disappointing. We finished bottom, seven points from safety, but no one was too surprised taking into account the size of the clubs we were up against.
Yeovil even celebrated their Championship journey when they officially went down, at Brighton, live on Sky Sports.
Celebrating dropping a division may seem alien but “Little Old Yeovil” won hearts and went down with pride.
Yet now the Glovers are the butt of jokes, sitting precariously in the depths of League Two.
Cynics will say that success comes at a price and had they not reached the Championship, they may still be a competent League One side.
So why is it so hard to get back to winning ways?
Managers, players and fans’ attitudes no doubt play a part but so too do finances and expectation.
The football world is full of clichés. Personal favourites include: “a game of two halves”, “goals change games”, “confidence is key”. But there is an element of truth in all of these notions, especially the last one.
As I write this in early November,Yeovil have won just 20 league games in two-and-abit seasons. The players have forgotten what win bonuses are, confidence has drained away.
The manager has changed. Following Gary Johnson’s sacking, new gaffer Paul Sturrock recruited 19 new players for League Two so a losing mentality clearly edges deeper than personnel.
The fear of the next relegation will haunt Yeovil Town deeply as they boast a ground with a 9,000 capacity and have spent 13 years in the Football League following a 108-year history out of it.
With just 3,000 fans making their way to South Somerset each week in League Two, it is unlikely the support would increase, or even stay the same, if they were to face the drop this season to complete the most unwanted hat-trick.
Let’s face it, we’re still getting used to being back in the Football League’s basement. A trip to the King Power Stadium of an evening has been quickly replaced by a Tuesday night 552-mile round trip to Accrington.
The stark reality of a losing mentality has hit Yeovil as hard as that 6ft 5ins centre-back that fouls your star striker and puts him out for four to six weeks.
However, is it better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all? Memories may fade but are, crucially, still there.
With YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, re-living those precious moments is just a search for “Yeovil Town play-offs” away.
Fans of AFC Bournemouth may read this and remember their own dark days, and reassure every football fan that it does get better as they settle into the Premier League. This would have been unimaginable just a few years ago as they faced bankruptcy.
We cannot all be as lucky as Cherries fans but we can all be optimistic for no other reason apart from the fact that it is our team.
And, you know what, despite all the misery we’ve suffered over the last couple of years, I’d still take the adventure that we had over muddling along in mid-table.
The lows may be very low, but we had some great highs – and, as a fan, you always believe there are more to come.
Now if we could just learn how to defend corners…
Going up... Going down...