After Slimbridge decided that they didn’t want to keep me around I went looking for new digs. I had interviews with a couple of clubs however it was Great Yarmouth town who made the first approach. After some serious consideration I decided that this was a good option for me and so I packed up my stuff and tootled across the country.
When I arrived at Great Yarmouth Town I joined a club which was recently promoted and looking to establish themselves at a higher level. The club was reasonably OK financially and I though that this was a good step up from Slimbridge.
The side was locked in and I didn’t want to blow out the budget so I was reluctant to release too many players. My long term plan was to see out this season, avoid relegation, and then start a rebuilding process. That sounds good in theory, but as they say in the army, no plan survives first contact with the enemy.
Great Yarmouth Town had been recently promoted from County Leagues and the board requested that I avoid relegation. Looking at the squad I had available I liked what I saw. I changed my approach from a narrow diamond to a 4-3-3 with inside forwards.
I added one player in the midfield and released a couple whose contracts were expired. The player added was one Kevin Kitchen who proceeded to be one of the most influential players of the campaign. Other than that we had a stable side apart from the odd injury.
Avoiding relegation promised to be a difficult task. It was had to judge whether the side would be able to compete at the new level, and given that I had no money available, I had to make do with what I had. Looking at past seasons, a points talley somewhere in the mid 40’s would be sufficient. Broken down simply that entailed 11 wins and 11 draws.
We got off to a good start and at the mid point of the competition we were sitting in third place. Somehow we had managed 10 wins out of 22 matches which put us ahead of where we needed to be to be safe. At this stage I decided that I wanted to make the playoffs!
The fairy tale continued as we made our way into the new year. After 30 matches we had secured safety and we were part of the chasing pack seeking to hunt down high flying Ramsgate. Early leaders Worthing had slipped back slightly.
We managed to keep on winning while teams around us faltered. Pace setter Ramsgate were caught and passed, and with five matches left to play any of the top four could win the whole thing.
We fell off the pace at the end, dropping some key games. However other teams fell off the pace even more and somehow we managed to win the title with a game to play. This was totally unexpected and very satisfying. My first silverware in only my third full season as manager.
We were involved in two cup competitions this season. The goal was to go as deep in each competition and see how much prize money we could rack up.
We did reasonably well beating Mangotsfield (3-2) and Harrow (3-2) before exiting in the 2nd qualifying round at the hands of Mickleover (1-2).
Isthmian League Cup
This competition is secondary as it pays way less than the F.A. Cup. We exited in the 2nd Round going down narrowly 2-1 to Marlow.
The club finances were in a good state for about two days. That changed when I foolishly let my scout off the leash. In two months he spent £120,000 on scouting costs, turning a £40,000 positive balance into a £80,000 deficit. I managed to curtail this extravagance however the damage was done.
The only signing I made for the whole campaign, and what an inspired signing. He was player of the season and is a candidate to become a captain in the future.
Not many movements really. I stuck with the team I inherited and took them to great heights.
Players of the Season
Tommy Wilks was a top performer for us. He broke the club goal scoring record, however he created as many goals as he scored which made him a very important player.
Grant Hutchinson was an unsung player in the squad. He chipped in with some key goals and assists, and played in every League game this season.
For only 16 years old, Da Silva put in some wonderful performances. His form fell away a bit towards the end of the season which probably reflects his inexperience and youth.
Kevin Kitchen was my player of the season. He was always a first pick for the side and was a very consistent performer.
After winning the title I looked at the situation in the club. I was losing half my players, the club was in the red, and there was not a lot I could do to fix this. Rather than battle in the next level up I thought it was better to find a club which was not going to be struggling as badly and settle in there.