This season has again proved to be a very frustrating one, which has mirrored the last two campaigns. We had an excellent pre- season, as we beat Newport, drew with Cowes and lost to Vics but only to a very late winner.
We signed a top keeper in Andy Payne, but before a ball was kicked in anger, we lost him to work!! New signings included Elliott Day and Liam Mulholland , both ex-players, returning to a very young and exciting squad. Also, several youngsters signed for the Romans, the “A” team returned in Division 3, but 2 of those youngsters were to make huge strides as the season progressed.
A 0-3 defeat at home to ECS, a result which gave hope to our rivals and a huge kick up the arse to us!!! Our next game was the Jubilee Cup, we faced Cowes Sports Res at St George’s Park. We won the trophy in a thrilling game, which finished 5-2. Some of the football played was breathtaking and standards were set!
We then had a string of injuries, which included losing Adam Connor, Ollie Buckett, Justin Henderson for the season.
Will Quigley, James Ranson, Caymen Collins and Luke Hitchcox were lost for large parts of the season.. It made things really tough and results suffered. As well as losing players to injuries, we lost players for other reasons. Kev Read due to work and family commitments, while Oli Wilson and Josh Younie decided to move on.
Our home form was terrible, with only 3 league wins all season, incredibly our away form was the complete opposite. We won 9 and drew 2 of our 11 league games away from the Peter Henry Ground!! If we had anything like that at home we would have been Champions.
The Hampshire Cup again saw some highlights, but like last year in big games ( this time the 1/4 final) we didn’t perform.
In the IW Memorial Cup Final, we played W & B FC, a side that had won their league, without losing a game. Also winning the IW Junior “A” Cup final. Again the big occasion seemed to affect us and we lost 1-0, to a side full of top players and more importantly, experience.
We were lucky to secure the service of American goalkeeper, Ryan Brose, who joined us from Newport and has had an outstanding season. A great lad and a very good keeper, Ryan will be sorely missed.
Another highlight for us was the emergence of the youngsters. The reserves, due to injuries and other problems, have had a very young side all season but several ” nippers” have played football for the first team and made big impressions. Sam Cant and Sam Lancey in recent weeks, have done very well when called up. Dan Thomas, as well as being a big part of the reserves, has been involved with a lot of first team fixtures as well. Two 16 year olds have really been outstanding this season…..Liam Bennett and Matty Oatley have performed with a maturity well beyond their years. They have been superb all season, so much so, they have been regulars for the most part of the season.
The lads have been brilliant and the top performers will be awarded at the presentation in a couple of weeks time. Special mentions to Ells and Rans for their help with training and warm ups, also Dan Vale, who took over the captaincy when we lost Adam back in September. Dan has also scored 30+ goals for the fifth consecutive season, this year being his personal best, with 39.
I want to thank Geoff Ruck, who in my opinion, is the best chairman I’ve certainly been involved with, in all my years of playing and managing. The committee have been hard working and committed as always. Big thanks to Rob in the tea bar, who has done an brilliant job again. Thanks to Stan Dupp for all his hard work behind the scenes with the paperwork and the website.
Paul and Wayne have produced an amazing pitch this year, in very testing conditions. It is in the best condition that I can recall, in the 20 years I’ve been here…superb effort. Big thanks to Chambo, Keith and Phil Davis, who have worked so very hard, supporting the club and working hard with their respective teams.
Also to my right hand man, Steve Rowe, who I have a great relationship with and enjoy working with. Thanks also to Pete Hudson….the best club linesman on the Island…bar none.
I’m currently busy speaking to players, in the hope to strengthen what we have and to go that next step in 2014/15 and hopefully become Champions.
Steve Lawton, UTR!